Lexus has an exceptional reputation for building dependable, reliable, luxurious vehicles, but does that include Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV)? Their renowned personal-service oriented Service Departments are also well known, not only for their high quality, if infrequent, routine maintenance and repairs, but for their top notch super-luxurious waiting areas, which include free refreshments (coffee, pastries, fruit, yogurt, bottled water and soda pop). You are also offered a free “loaner car”, and your car will always be returned freshly washed after servicing.
J.D. Powers and Associates has named Lexus well over a dozen times as “most reliable brand” in the US., and Consumer Reports has repeatedly designated Lexus “among the top 5 most reliable” vehicles. The Lexus reputation is unsurpassed!
What about their mid-sized SUV, the GX470? Is it a pre-owned vehicle you should consider? Debuted in 2002 as a 2003 model, and based on the Toyota 4Runner, the GX470 is a few inches smaller than the Toyota Sequoia, and the Lexus modeled after the Sequoia, the LX470. A few inches can make a huge difference; the difference between a full-sized SUV and a mid-sized SUV, in fact.
The early GX470 won various awards, including 4-Wheeler of the Year in 2003 and 2004 from 4X4 Magazine, and Mid-Size Sport-Utility All-Star for 2003 from Automobile Magazine. J.D. Power and Associates named the GX470 the highest premium luxury SUV in initial quality in 2005, and Kelly Blue Book gave it its Best Resale Value Award in 2006.
The GX470, a front-engine 4-wheel-drive SUV, is powered by a 4.7 liter, VVT-I, 32-valve, four-cam V8, rated at 235 HP. For 2005, the HP was increased to 270. With EPA ratings of 15 MPG city and 19 MPG highway, we recently achieved 22 MPG on our first trip to the Oregon Coast in our “new” 2004 GX470. The GX470 features an electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission and enhanced permanent four-wheel drive with center locking Torsen limited-slip center differential, self-leveling rear air-suspension and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), which manually adjusts to four different settings. It’s not as smooth riding as a sedan, since it is a truck after all, but it is exceptionally quite and luxurious. We traded in our 2001 Lexus ES300 Coach Edition we had owned for five years, which is very well known for its quiet ride, and the GX470 is actually much quieter than the ES300. We were surprised, and impressed!
The GX470 has seating for eight, with the optional third-row seat. The third row seats can be folded down, or to the side, or just taken completely out. The second row reclining seats can easily be folded forward, out of the way, or taken out too, giving immense cargo capacity for a mid-sized SUV.
For us, upon driving the 4Runner, Sequoia and LX470, and then the GX470, it was a very clear choice; the GX470, hands down! We LOVED it from the moment we first drove it. As “SUV-virgins”, never having owned, or ever having any interest in, an SUV of any size or kind (or 4-wheel-drive either, for that matter), it was a totally brand new adventure in car shopping. The difference between the full-sized and mid-sized SUVs was remarkable. My wife is very petite, and though our first choice was a 2000 to 2002 4Runner, because of price, it just did not fit her right. To get close enough to the foot pedals, the steering wheel was just too close for comfort, or safety. The larger “full-size” SUVs were just that, larger. Too large for us! Like Goldie Locks and the porridge, the GX470 was “just right” for both of us!
On our first test-drive of a GX470, we were extremely impressed by several aspects of this mid-sized SUV, not just the fit; the handling, the power, the visibility all around, the many standard “options”, the pure luxuriousness of it! After much more research, looking and pricing, we bought a used 2004 GX470 from our local Lexus Dealer, and we LOVE it!
There are just a few shortcomings, however. The biggest one: There are not a lot of storage compartments, large or small, anywhere. Also, Consumer Reports “Auto Reliability Charts” note that the Drive System had a few more problems than average for the first several years, but ours had that problem fixed under warranty long before we purchased it.
The few shortcomings don’t detract from the many standard features we enjoy so much, such as: variable heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate controls plus rear air-conditioning controls, navigation system with voice recognition for many of the commands, plus backup camera, side mirrors with tilt-down backing aid, water repellant windshield and front-side windows, rain-sensing wipers, AC power inverter outlet, etc., and all the many normal Lexus accoutrements we’ve grown so accustomed to over the years.
Check KellyBlueBook.com for current pricing. Also check my AC article on purchasing used cars, titled “Seven Best Tips for Purchasing a Reliable Used Car”, published a few months ago.
Overall, for us, our 2004 Lexus GX470 certainly does (with the few reservations noted above) capture the Lexus slogan, “The Pursuit of Perfection”, and in a mid-size, 4-wheel-drive, SUV! Who would have thunk it? Certainly not this writer!
(Source: Wikipedia, and personal experience)