By KBB.com Editors
Slotting neatly between the flagship Lexus LX 570 full-size SUV and the popular RX 350 and RX 400h crossover utility vehicles, the mid-size 2009 GX 470 represents a suitably Lexus-like upgrade of the rugged Toyota 4Runner platform, and it packs a full measure of techno wizardry and creature comforts along with standard V8 power and full-time four-wheel drive. Although it's now entered the graceful-aging stage of its generational lifecycle, the GX 470 remains extremely refined and lavishly equipped even in "base" form. With a solid blend of style, sophistication, all-weather and all-terrain capabilities and optional seating for up to eight, it continues to be a formidable competitor in a market segment that also includes the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Land Rover LR3, Mercedes-Benz ML-Class and Volkswagen Touareg.You'll Like This Car If...
When luxury, comfort and loads of technology mean just as much as spirited performance and go-almost-anywhere capability, the 2009 Lexus GX 470 deserves prime consideration as your possible next SUV.You May Not Like This Car If...
Available eight-place seating capability comes at the expense of usable cargo space in a GX 470. Complicating that reality is the fact that its optional third-row split-bench seat does not fold completely away, requiring removal and replacement whenever your hauling priorities change.What's New for 2009
The Lexus GX 470 sees no major changes for 2009.Driving It Driving Impressions
Despite its truck-based body-on-frame architecture, the 2009 Lexus GX 470 is a remarkably comfortable and civilized travelmate. A good deal of credit goes to the standard adaptive variable suspension that includes both height adjustability and four different shock absorber settings, but adding the optional KDDS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) can significantly curtail body roll in the corners without adversely affecting ride quality. Even without KDDS, the GX 470 transparently employs its traction and stability controls, and the four-wheel drive, to help ease a driver's burden in all but the most extreme of weather or surface conditions. Downhill Assist Control and Hill-start Assist Control add extra confidence, on-road or off. Finally, add the smooth, spirited 4.7-liter V8 and cabin isolation that rivals a Lexus sedan in reducing interior noise levels and you've got one very impressive SUV.Favorite Features
Available Voice-Activated Navigation system
An extra well worth considering, the GX 470's voice-activated navigation system is impressively intuitive, allows hands-free activation of many functions and includes a large, legible seven-inch color display that also incorporates a rear-vision camera.
Optional KDDS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System)
Seamlessly integrated with the GX 470's standard adjustable suspension, the available KDDS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) can trim body roll by up to 50 percent when cornering while maintaining excellent ride compliance.
As you might expect of a Lexus, the GX 470's well-isolated cabin is awash in supple leather and tastefully polished wood. Complementing the upscale ambiance are signature Optitron electroluminescent gauges and well-positioned primary controls and switchgear. Power-adjustable front seats provide good comfort and support, while the second-row 60/40-split bench seat has the headroom and legroom to handle three average-size adults (although two is more optimum). Significantly less space in all critical dimensions means the optional third-row 50/50-split seat might be best for children. However, removing it increases cargo volume from 13.2 cubic feet to 49.7, and flip-folding the second-row elements further increases rear cargo capacity to 77.5 cubic feet.Exterior
A contemporary take on the conventional SUV design, the 2009 Lexus GX 470 matches softened contouring on its front and rear quarters with bold fender flaring and pronounced side character lines. Its large and fairly upright glass area helps optimize driver sightlines in all directions. Access to the rear cargo area is through a single-piece rear hatch that swings open from left to right, a design choice that can make loading and unloading in confined areas a bit challenging. The GX 470 rides on S-rated 265/65 all-season tires mounted to 17-inch alloy rims, currently the only choice available directly from the factory.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2009 Lexus GX 470 boasts a truly expansive assortment of standard features. On the creature-comfort front, rich wood and leather cabin trappings set off a vast array of power assists and other premium touches, including a nine-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer, dual-zone climate control, power moonroof and steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control buttons. Mechanically, it matches V8 power, a five-speed automatic transmission and a dual-range full-time four-wheel drive system with sophisticated vehicle dynamics enhancements that include adjustable shock absorbers and ride height, traction and stability controls, Downhill Assist Control and Hill-start Assist Control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
The GX 470's list of options is headed by a voice-activated navigation system offered with a stunning 240-watt Mark Levinson audio system. You 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. Other key items include a 50/50 split-folding third-row seat (including a supplemental air-conditioner), SIRIUS or XM Satellite Radio, rear DVD entertainment system, tow hitch and Lexus Link, which provides roadside assistance, emergency alerts, concierge services, and other worthwhile benefits.Under the Hood
The 2009 Lexus GX 470 teams a smooth and torquey 4.7-liter V8 with a five-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive. Normally, the engine's 263 horsepower and 323 pound-feet of torque are automatically apportioned by a Torsen limited-slip center differential. But, when conditions warrant, Low range can be selected by using a console-mounted auxiliary shift lever and the center differential can be electronically locked with a button on the dash. Requiring just over eight seconds to accelerate from a stop to 60 miles per hour, the versatile GX 470 can tow up to 6,500 pounds when fitted with the optional trailer hitch and still earns slightly above-average EPA fuel economy numbers of 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway.
263 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
323 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18
A Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $48,500 puts the 2009 Lexus GX 470 in the heart of the mid-size luxury V8-engine SUV segment. Add voice-activated navigation, the Sport Package with Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, the rear-seat DVD entertainment system and other options and that figure can quickly escalate to near $60,000. The good news is that, like all Lexus products, the GX 470 should do well in justifying that investment over time. Residual values are projected to be a little lower than those of the BMW X5 and Audi Q7, while outpacing the Cadillac SRX, Volkswagen Touareg, Infiniti FX50 and Mercedes-Benz ML550.