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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
downshifts promptly for good passing punch
shines brightest when traveling off-road
Most reviewers rate the performance of the 2009 Lexus GX as about average.
ConsumerGuide reports that the Lexus GX 470 has decent acceleration, with a transmission that "downshifts promptly for good passing punch." Kelley Blue Book calls the Lexus GX 470's V-8 engine "spirited." Cars.com observes this 2009 Lexus is powered by a "4.7-liter V-8 [that] produces 263 horsepower and 323 pounds-feet of torque." According to Automobile, "The [2009 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 2009 Lexus GX 470 to "tow up to 6,500 pounds when equipped with the optional towing package." Edmunds states that the 2009 Lexus GX 470 demonstrates "off-road competence" and lists a towing capacity of around 3.5 tons. In addition, this source mentions a "better reputation for reliability" than its competitors.
Official EPA estimates have the Lexus GX 470 achieving 14 mpg in city driving and 18 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy is low; ConsumerGuide's test drivers average less than 15 mpg. Furthermore, this source says the 2009 Lexus requires premium-grade gasoline.
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 finds it "too floaty" on the Comfort setting and "too jittery" on the Sport setting. Semi-Comfort and Semi-Sport modes are "just adequately absorbent." 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.
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 lacks "road feel." Sudden stops cause the vehicle to "nose-dive," but braking is solid.
Kelley Blue Book reports that the Downhill Assist feature and the Hill-Start Assist Controls are the company's solution to riding the brake. 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. 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.
Off-road handling—not on-road performance—is the 2009 Lexus GX 470’s forte.