Full 2008 Lexus GX 470 Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Lexus GX 470 SUV receives minor interior and exterior styling revisions.
Occupying the not-too-big, not-too-small slot in Lexus' SUV lineup, the midsize 2008 GX 470 could be an appealing choice for a select group of SUV shoppers. This well-seasoned design (it debuted for 2003) strikes a nearly perfect balance between tough four-wheel-drive capability and well-dressed road-going manners.
The GX 470 is built using a traditional body-on-frame design, and much of the underlying hardware is similar to that used for Toyota's rugged 4Runner and FJ Cruiser. The GX also benefits from the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which enhances both on- and off-road ride and handling by automatically adjusting sway bar resistance by up to 50 percent. In regular driving, KDSS can minimize body roll, while off-road it allows the wheels to independently articulate more fully.
Inside, passengers are treated to all the luxury, convenience and technology they'd expect to find in one of Lexus' passenger cars. Last year, Lexus updated the GX with state-of-the-art capabilities like voice-activated navigation and a high-resolution DVD-capable dashboard display. This year, the GX is unchanged, though there are minor interior and exterior cosmetic upgrades.
Only a handful of luxury SUVs combine luxurious comfort and capable off-road and towing performance in a reasonably sized and well-crafted package. And compared to its closest competitor, the Land Rover LR3, the 2008 Lexus GX 470 enjoys a much better reputation for reliability. But if you're not planning on fully utilizing the GX 470's capabilities, keep in mind that there are better choices that provide better on-road performance and interior versatility. For daily duty, modern crossover SUVs like the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class will likely serve you better.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Lexus GX 470 is a midsize luxury SUV. In typical Lexus fashion, it's offered in one fully equipped trim level. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, heated outside mirrors, illuminated running boards, leather seating, heated power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and 11-speaker premium audio with a six-disc in-dash CD changer and auxiliary audio jack.
A navigation system is optional and comes bundled with a phenomenal 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. Also optional is the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, a rear-seat entertainment system and a folding 50/50-split third-row seat with rear air-conditioning. A Sport package adds special interior and exterior styling details as well as KDSS.
Powertrains and Performance
The Lexus GX 470 is equipped with a 4.7-liter V8 that produces 263 horsepower and 323 pound-feet of torque. It's coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission that transfers power through a standard dual-range transfer case and full-time four-wheel-drive system. Properly equipped, a GX 470 can tow up to 6,500 pounds -- more than its car-based crossover rivals. EPA estimated fuel economy for 2008 is a little below average for this segment at 14 mpg city and 18 mpg highway.
Standard safety equipment on the 2008 Lexus GX 470 includes antilock brakes, front seat-mounted side airbags and roll-sensing first- and second-row head curtain side airbags. Stability control and traction control help keep you on the road, while the full-time four-wheel-drive system is supplemented with Downhill Assist Control and Hill-start Assist Control to more effectively handle off-road adventures. A rear back-up camera is included with the optional navigation system, and Lexus Link communications is also available.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like other Lexus products, the GX 470's cabin is chock full of luxury features and rich leather everywhere you look, and it's put together with exacting fit and finish. Quality materials -- including your choice of elegant wood trim finishes -- extend to the finely detailed door panels and dashboard that incorporates the now familiar Lexus Optitron electroluminescent instrumentation display.
Upgraded last year, the optional navigation system features voice activation, an improved high-resolution display and an input jack for connecting external devices. There are a maximum of 78 cubic feet of cargo space available, which is competitive for the midsize SUV class. However, the optional third-row seat is very cramped in terms of space, and curbside loading of the cargo area can be awkward due to the GX's side-hinged rear door that blocks access when opened.
With car-based crossovers now the standard for midsize luxury SUVs, the 2008 Lexus GX 470 can feel like something of a throwback to the mid-1990s. However, it's still reasonably refined and delivers both a smooth ride and competent handling. Depending on driver preference, the standard four-mode adaptive variable suspension (AVS) can be set from Comfort to Sport to automatically adjust shock stiffness based upon road conditions and driving style. Adding more flexibility is the standard Rear Adjustable Height Control (AHC), which can offer an additional 1.6 inches of clearance for negotiating challenging terrain or lower the rear of the vehicle 1.2 inches for easier loading.