The Lexus GX470 had the Lexus tradition written all over it. It provided the luxury for travel in a sport-utility vehicle that's quiet and comfortable, thanks to its polished interior, smooth V8 engine, and three-row seating for better flexibility. Though adorned with luxury in its design, this mid-size SUV was very much capable of conquering the off-roads. Its features even earned it a number of awards during its stint. In 2003 and 2004, it was named Four Wheeler of the Year by Four Wheeler Magazine. It also made the Automobile Magazine All-Star list for 2003 in the mid-size SUV category and got the highest ranking in terms of initial quality for premium luxury SUV in 2005 by J.D. Power and Associates. In 2006, it got the Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Award. But even though the Lexus GX470 was a top-rated luxury SUV, it had its own disadvantages, especially in light of a faster-growing crossover SUV market at that time. It had an impressive towing and off-roading capabilities, but some related features made it heavier, a bit cramped, and less energy-efficient compared to other luxury SUVs.
2003-2009: The changes in the Lexus GX470
The GX470 was initially unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in the early part of 2002. It was launched as a 2003 model, making it the third SUV to be part of the Lexus family. The GX development plan began as early as 1999. The GX shared some common features with the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. These vehicles had the same platform, body work, mechanical features, and basic dimensions. They both had a welded steel body-on-frame and an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. They also came equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and center locking Torsen differential. When it comes to suspension, the layout of the GX was similar to that of Toyota 4Runner. The earlier GX was powered by a 4.7L 32-valve, four-ca, 2UZ-FE V8 engine that could generate up to 235 hp at 4,800 rpm and as much as 320 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,400 rpm.
For 2003, the towing capacity of the Lexus GX470 was rated at 5,000 lbs. The 2004 model came with an upgraded transmission. An optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension also became part of its numerous changes, along with some safety upgrades such as the optional rear backup camera system and tire pressure monitoring system. The 2004 model had a better towing capacity of 6,500 lbs. In the 2005 model, the V8 power was upgraded to 270 hp. However, this power rate was dropped to 263 hp with changes in the testing procedure in 2006. The Sport trim became part of the lineup for the 2005 GX. Various options were also introduced, including voice commands for the climate control and Bluetooth compatibility. For the 2007 model, the navigation system underwent another upgrade, along with the use of a larger screen for rear-seat entertainment and the addition of an auxiliary audio jack. The 2008 GX also got a dark metallic grille, revamped turn signal lights, liquid graphite wheels, exterior and interior chrome, among other updates. The next-generation was introduced in 2009. This was later rebadged as the GX460, as the SUV now shifted to a 4.6L V8.