Premium midsize SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $15,200 – $34,500*


2003 Lexus GX470


2004 Lexus GX470


2005 Lexus GX470


Lexus GX470 interior

Pros:
  • Build quality
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
Cons:
  • Fuel economy

The GX 470 is roomier than an Infiniti FX or BMW’s X5, though not as sporty. More modern than the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, it’s no larger inside. The quality and red-carpet dealer service associated with the Lexus brand help this embellished 4Runner compete in the luxury SUV field. Still, car-based rivals such as the Acura MDX and Lexus’ own RX 330 are more sensible choices overall.

Overview

Lexus added a third luxury sport-utility vehicle for 2003, to fill the gap between its car-based RX 300 and truck-type LX 470. The GX 470 shared a new body-on-frame design with the redesigned 2003 4Runner from parent company Toyota. Its V8 and five-speed automatic transmission also were found in the 4Runner, as well as the 2003 LX 470. So was the standard all-wheel-drive system, with low-range gearing and a locking center differential.

Unique to the GX was Lexus’s new Downhill Assist Control, which automatically applied the brakes to limit speed down steep grades. Also included was Hill-start Ascent Control, which could hold the vehicle in place on an incline for five seconds.

Standard features included 17-inch wheels, antilock four-wheel disc brakes with full-power assist, and an antiskid/traction control system. In addition to front torso side airbags, the GX 470 had curtain side airbags for the first two seating rows. Also included were a self-leveling rear air suspension, height-adjustable suspension, and automatic shock-absorber control within four driver-selectable modes.

Further imitating big-brother LX were standard leather upholstery, automatic climate control, an in-dash CD changer, driver-seat memory system, and lighted running boards. Unlike 4Runner, the GX 470 offered a third-row bench seat for up to eight-passenger capacity, the same as the LX. The GX had a swing-open tailgate with fixed glass, versus the 4Runner’s liftgate with power-opening window.

Options included a navigation system, premium Mark Levinson audio, heated front seats, rear air conditioning, and a rear DVD entertainment system. A sunroof and rain-sensing windshield wipers also were available. Maximum towing capacity was 5000 pounds (6500 with the optional towing package). GX rivals included the Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX, and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

Yearly Updates

2004 GX 470
As the 2004 model year opened, the GX 470 stood pat, until several new features appeared early in the calendar year. A tire-pressure monitor joined the standard-equipment list at midseason, along with a roll-detection sensor for the head-protecting first- and second-row curtain side airbags.
Also at midyear, Lexus’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension became optional. It used sensor-activated electro-hydraulic couplings that temporarily “released” the antiroll bars as needed to improve comfort and stability on rough surfaces. Starting at midseason, the optional navigation screen also served as a monitor that displayed a rear view when Reverse gear was selected.
2005 GX 470
More power marked the 2005 model, as the V6 engine gained 35 horsepower. Hill ascent/descent control was designed to maintain a slow, steady speed on steep grades.
2006 GX 470
New for 2006 was optional Digital Lexus Link assistance/concierge service.
2007 GX 470
GX 470 carried over unchanged.
2008 GX 470
The 2008 Lexus GX 470 was largely unchanged.
2009 GX 470
Once again, the GX 470 saw few changes.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Lexus’ 4.7-liter, dual-overhead-cam V8 engine produced 235 horsepower, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Output rose to 270 horsepower for 2005. Every GX 470 has all-wheel drive.

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/285
Engine HP 235
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 320
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

15/18

16.2

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/285
Engine HP 270
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

15/19

Road Test

Strong but not neck-snapping performance is the rule, as the GX 470 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. In this exceptionally smooth powertrain, the transmission downshifts quickly for decent passing punch. Naturally, the added power for 2005 should improve acceleration slightly.

In terms of economy, test examples have averaged 15.4 to 16.2 mpg overall, hitting a low of 11.8 mpg in exclusively city driving. Lexus recommends 91-octane premium fuel.

Truck-based roots are evident in the GX’s slightly bouncy behavior, plus occasionally wobbly feel on blemished surfaces. The driver-adjustable suspension feels too floaty when set to Comfort mode, too jittery in Sport mode, and only adequately absorbent in Semi-Comfort and Semi-Sport modes.

This SUV leans noticeably in turns, but does not feel tippy. Steering is nicely weighted and accurate, but lacks road feel. Hill ascent and descent assists can be useful off-road. Brake performance is fine, despite fairly marked nosedive in simulated panic stops.

Expect a muted growl during full acceleration. Wind buffeting occurs at over 55 mph, and coarse-surface tire noise is evident.

Big electroluminescent gauges are easy to read. Climate controls are a stretch for some drivers. Lexus’ navigation system is easier to use than most, though the screen can wash out in sunlight, especially with the sunroof open. Fit and finish are excellent, and materials are mostly top-notch, though some cabin plastics disappoint at these prices.

High commanding seating, a standard power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and power front seats provide a range of comfortable positions. Plenty of room is available for all but the tallest occupants, but wide rear roof pillars hamper visibility. Optional third-row seats stow against the sides, obscuring even more. Steep step-in and running boards can hinder more than help entry/exit.

Second-row occupants get plenty of head, leg and toe room, though the seat is too low for best thigh support and the middle rider straddles a hard driveshaft hump. Children are the best match for the cramped, hard-to-access third row.

Cargo space is generous with the second row folded, though it does not drop flush for an even load floor. The GX 470 lacks the convenience of a fold-into-the-floor third row. Seats stow against the sidewalls, and must be removed for best utility. Cargo liftover is low, but utility would be enhanced if the cargo door opened from curbside and had roll-down glass. Small-items cabin storage also falls short.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 GX 470 w/navigation system

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 8
80%
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
70%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 60

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.8 188.2 74.0 73.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
77.5 23.0 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
41.0 40.4 41.8 36.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 GX 470 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Snapping or popping noises from the rear air conditioner unit require that the expansion valve be replaced. (2004)
Air conditioner
Description: The A/C may not cool sufficiently on vehicles with dual systems requiring installation of numerous parts supplied in a repair kit. (2003-06)
Doors
Description: The running board clips come loose and redesigned clips are available to retrofit. (2003-04)
Doors
Description: If the rear door becomes difficult to open, a redesigned lock assembly needs to be installed. (2003-04)
Doors
Description: The right side door check may prevent the door from fully opening and may damage the window channel if the window is open. (2003-07)
Doors
Description: The passenger door may not open all the way and the windows may not go all the way down due to a problem with the door check. (2003-07)
Exhaust system
Description: Excessive sulfur odors from the exhaust are eliminated by reprogramming the engine control computer (PCM) and replacing the catalytic converter. (2003-04)
Mirrors
Description: The outside rearview mirrors may not return to their memory position requiring a revised mirror actuator. (2003-06)
Rear axle noise
Description: A clunk from the rear may be heard and felt unless the rear driveshaft was replaced along with installation of a suspension kit. (2003-07)
Sunroof/moonroof
Description: The moonroof may not operate properly if the glass is misaligned or the grease is contaminated with dirt. (2003-07)
Suspension noise
Description: A clunking noise from the rear when coming to a stop is corrected by installing a revised driveshaft. (2003-04)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks into the vehicle height control compressor solenoid requiring installation of improved compressor assembly. (2003-04)
Windows
Description: On some early build vehicles the power window may close then open half-way when using the auto up feature requiring replacement of the window switch with an improved unit. (2003)

Recall History

2009
Description: The vehicle capacity weight on the tire and loading information label and the GVWR on the certification label is insufficient for certain vehicles. Some vehicles were accessorized through vehicle processing centers and had accessories installed that caused the vehicle to exceed the GVWR value. These vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 110, “Tire Selection and Rims,” and 49 CFR Part 567. Toyota will exchange the certification label and the tire and loading information label.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.