2008 Lexus GX 470 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 14, 2008

The 2008 Lexus GX 470 brings off-road credentials to the Lexus brand, but its skimpy rear-seat room and sluggish performance tarnish the image.

The car experts at TheCarConnection.com studied a wide range of road tests (and off-road tests) of the 2008 Lexus GX 470 to compile this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident off-roaders also drove the new Lexus GX 470 to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

The 2008 Lexus GX 470 is based on the Toyota 4Runner, but a distinctive look inside and out, as well as a big new engine, give it passable luxury credentials.

The big disappointment with the GX 470, however, is that it looks like a scaled up Suzuki XL-7 in profile. The GX's interior is sumptuous in the way a Lexus's interior should be, though. The leather upholstery is rich, the instrumentation lights up with electroluminescent lushness, and the wood veneers look expensive.

Power for the 2008 Lexus GX 470 comes from the familiar 263-horsepower, 4.7-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V-8 that has been a mainstay of Toyota trucks for a decade. The 4.7-liter V-8 is backed by a five-speed automatic transmission that shifts silently and neatly. With 4,675 pounds to slog around, the V-8 has to work hard and can feel taxed. It's not quick, but there's enough thrust aboard to sustain speed in most situations. Lexus rates it to tow up to 5,000 pounds, but don't expect it to haul half that without straining. Fuel economy lags as a result of the heavy-duty use; it gets 14/18 mpg.

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The Lexus GX 470's front suspension is an independent system of double wishbones and coil springs, while the solid rear axle uses control arms and (unlike the 4Runner) air springs with adjustable height control. There's good travel at every wheel and a dual-range full-time four-wheel drive system is standard. Off road, the GX470 is surefooted, thanks to all manner of electronic systems meant to help prevent mishaps. On road, the GX is quieter than any 4x4 should be. The steering feels good if not overly communicative, and ride motions are nicely controlled in normal traffic, but heavy crosswinds can be felt.

Elsewhere inside the Lexus GX 470, there's not a great deal of room. The third-row seat is practically useless, but front seat passengers are treated regally, and the second-row seat is well shaped, if not endowed with an overabundance of legroom. Shoulder room is also scant throughout the cockpit. A DVD entertainment system, a navigation system, Bluetooth, and a Mark Levinson sound system are available.

Stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, and front-seat side and head/curtain airbags are standard. A rear backup camera is included the optional navigation system.

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2008 Lexus GX 470

Styling

The 2008 Lexus GX 470 doesn’t inspire excitement with its styling.

There is little that is remarkable about the styling of the 2008 Lexus GX 470.

In fact, very few sources had much to say about the appearance of the 2008 Lexus GX 470--good, bad, or indifferent. Most comments regarding this 2008 Lexus were neutral and descriptive: Cars.com mentions its strong familial resemblance to other vehicles in the Lexus lineup and that a "few more metallic finishes outside and inside differentiate this 2008 Lexus model from its former self." Road & Track says essentially the same thing: "On the outside, the [Lexus] GX 470's family resemblance is obvious. The signature grille leads the way for the tall body and narrow greenhouse look."

The Lexus GX 470's styling includes integrated fender flares and lighted running boards. Kelley Blue Book considers the flared fenders a "bold" touch that softens "contouring on its front and rear quarters." Otherwise, it's described simply as an updated version of the same SUV design that's been around for several years. Mother Proof snipes that the Lexus GX 470 size and shape "makes me feel like I have a big butt" and would bump into everything in attempts to park.

ConsumerGuide praises this 2008 Lexus's "well-appointed and high-quality cabin." ForbesAutos says "the Lexus GX 470's comfortable and well-equipped cabin features leather upholstery [and] bird's eye maple wood trim."

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2008 Lexus GX 470

Performance

This 2008 Lexus GX 470 is tailored more for off-road handling than on-road performance.

TheCarConnection.com found that most reviewers rate the performance of the 2008 Lexus GX at just slightly above average.

Cars.com reports this 2008 Lexus is powered by a "4.7-liter V-8 [that] produces 263 horsepower and 323 pounds-feet of torque." Kelley Blue Book calls the Lexus GX 470's V-8 engine "spirited." According to Automobile, "The [2008 Lexus] GX 470 inherits its drivetrain from bigger brother LX470, including the 235-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission." Cars.com notes this engine and transmission combination allows the 2008 Lexus GX 470 to "tow up to 6,500 pounds when equipped with the optional towing package." ConsumerGuide reports that the Lexus GX 470 has decent acceleration, with a transmission that "downshifts promptly for good passing punch." Edmunds also states that the 2008 Lexus GX 470 demonstrates "offroad competence" and reports a towing capacity of around 3.5 tons. In addition, this source reports a "better reputation for reliability" than its competitors.

However, fuel economy is low; ConsumerGuide's test drivers averaged less than 15 mpg. Furthermore, this source says that the 2008 Lexus requires premium-grade gasoline. Official EPA estimates at FuelEconomy.gov have the Lexus GX 470 achieving 14 mpg in city driving and 18 mpg on the highway.

According to Cars.com, the Lexus GX 470 is at its best in an off-road setting, and indeed some of the optional equipment is designed for just that purpose. On the topic of handling, ConsumerGuide reports that this SUV's truck ancestry becomes noticeable on rough roads, with a "slight bounce and occasional wobble." Lexus graciously provides four different adjustment modes for the suspension, but ConsumerGuide found it "too floaty" on the Comfort setting and "too jittery" on the Sport setting. Semi-Comfort and Semi-Sport modes are "just adequately absorbent."

ConsumerGuide reports that the Lexus GX 470, built on a truck platform, has the trucklike tendency to lean when turning, but "doesn't feel tippy," largely thanks to the proprietary Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which allows each wheel to move more freely without affecting the others during off-road travel. However, the steering is said to lack "road feel." Sudden stops cause the vehicle to "nose-dive," but braking is solid.

One issue addressed in the new 2008 Lexus GX 470 is downhill control. Back in the days when people were actually taught how to drive a stick shift, the rule was to descend the hill in the same gear in which you climbed it--in short, shift into low going downhill and allow engine compression to slow the vehicle. Today, almost everyone rides the brake, which is not conducive to long brake life. Kelley Blue Book reports that the Downhill Assist feature and the Hill-Start Assist Controls are the company's solution. Intended for off-road travel, the Downhill Assist Control, as described by Cars.com, is actually a governor that slows the vehicle on downhill grades unless the driver touches the accelerator or the brake.

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2008 Lexus GX 470

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Lexus GX 470 has a high-quality interior with a dysfunctional third-row seat.

This 2008 Lexus GX 470 offers reasonable comfort for a mid-size SUV.

Kelley Blue Book reports that the Lexus GX 470 has three rows; "the second-row 60/40-split bench seat has the headroom and legroom to handle three average-size adults." The "power-adjustable front seats provide good comfort and support"; however as with many vehicles reviewed by TheCarConnection.com, "significantly less space in all critical dimensions means the optional third-row 50/50-split seat might be best for children." Mother Proof is rather taken with "the second row seating," which is "more inviting" than those of similar SUVs.

Cars.com reports that the 2008 Lexus GX 470 has "seating for five is standard, but the [Lexus] GX 470 can seat up to eight when equipped with an optional third-row seat"--which Edmunds describes as "cramped." The reviewer at Mother Proof also points out that ingress and egress of the Lexus GX 470 is no easy thing, particularly for short adults and children. Very small children find it "impossible ... to step high enough to get in, even with the assistance of the running board."

Not all sources were enchanted with the Lexus 2008 GX 470's third row. Mother Proof said the first negative thing encountered was the "strange mechanics with the third row seating configuration." What the test driver reports here that Edmunds does not is that the third-row seats do not, in fact, fold downward into the floor, but up along the sides of the cabin, where they "hang," taking up a significant amount of the 78 cubic feet of valuable cargo space.

Edmunds goes on to point out that "curbside loading of the cargo area can be awkward due to the GX's side-hinged rear door that blocks access when opened." The cargo space of this 2008 Lexus can be increased by removing the third row, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Despite its criticism of this 2008 Lexus's lack of room, Edmunds praises the interior materials, describing these as "well-appointed and high-quality." Kelley Blue Book also comments favorably on the "well-isolated cabin...awash in supple leather and tastefully polished wood." In terms of quietness, Cars.com says that other than a "slight driveline drone, the GX 470 is quiet." According to ConsumerGuide, however, the Lexus GX 470's engine "rises to a muted growl in full acceleration," and wind noise becomes apparent at speeds in excess of 55 mph.

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2008 Lexus GX 470

Safety

Occupants should enjoy a relatively high level of peace of mind when traveling in the 2008 Lexus GX 470.

Although no crash test results were found from either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the 2008 Lexus GX 470, TheCarConnection.com notes that the SUV has many standard safety features.

According to Cars.com, standard safety features for the 2008 Lexus GX 470 include side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for the first and second rows, traction control, and an electronic stability system. The 2008 Lexus GX 470's electronic stability system and traction control help to maintain contact with the road surface, according to Edmunds. Kelley Blue Book also mentions "anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution" as standard safety equipment.

Kelley Blue Book reports that driver visibility behind the wheel of the 2008 Lexus GX 470 is no problem, as "its large and fairly upright glass area helps optimize driver sightlines in all directions." Visibility in the Lexus GX 470 is also aided by an optional "back-up camera...[that] improves rear visibility," according to MyRide.com.

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2008 Lexus GX 470

Features

The 2008 Lexus GX 470 has an extensive list of high-end features.

You'll not want for features on the 2008 Lexus GX 470.

Unlike other models that usually come in multiple trims, this 2008 Lexus, as noted by TheCarConnection.com, has only one, which simplifies things a great deal. Edmunds reports that the company has been quite generous in the features it offers: 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, moonroof, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and an 11-speaker stereo system with a six-disc in-dash CD changer and auxiliary audio jack for an MP3 player. Cars.com also reports that the Lexus GX 470 "powered front seats" and "an overhead console with an integrated HomeLink transmitter."

And these are just the standard features available for the Lexus GX 470.

Additional features for the 2008 Lexus GX 470 are "the optional navigation system features voice activation, an improved high-resolution display and an input jack for connecting external devices," according to Edmunds. Should the buyer opt for the navigation system, a substantial upgrade to the stereo system is included. Other available options for this 2008 Lexus include rear air conditioning, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and a folding 50/50 third-row seat. Kelley Blue Book notes that Lexus GX 470 buyers interested in driving performance "can put an enthusiast edge on handling with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), available alone or as part of the Sport Package that also includes interior and exterior trim enhancements."

Mother Proof was less than enchanted with one aspect of the Lexus GX 470: "as nice as it is to have that [optional] DVD player, this one is hard to figure out," and the CD changer is inconveniently located in the glove compartment.

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July 5, 2015
2008 Lexus GX 470 4WD 4-Door

Purchased GX470 used / Great ride

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I purchased my GX470 used with over 100k miles & thus far I've not regretted this decision. A few months in & I've yet to experience any issues with this vehicle so I thought I would write a review on my... + More »
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Styling 6.0
Performance 6.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
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