2008 Lexus GX 470

Spreadin’ the LUV with a big Lexus ute.

by Scott Corlett


Eons ago, when the price of gasoline started with a “1,” Lexus’ marketing team coined the acronym LUV, for luxury utility vehicle. With these three little letters, those crafty ad folk succinctly tagged what was then a rapidly expanding universe of upscale SUVs.
Now it’s 2008 and despite the leading digit of the price of premium test having tripled, the number of LUVs entering the market continues to increase. But with the new competition, is Lexus’s mid-size GX 470 still the LUV to love?


Unlike many LUVs, the 2008 Lexus GX 470 is a true utility vehicle. Mechanically, the GX 470 is related to its mid-market cousin, the Toyota 4Runner. Both share body-on-frame construction, and this rugged, truck-like configuration offers superior towing and off-roading abilities compared to competitors built with more refined unibody frames. This is great for drivers who haul their own yachts.
But alas, like a brawny boyfriend whose Armani is too large to share, the GX 470’s heft comes with penalties. The GX is heavier and provides lower fuel economy (14/18 mpg city/highway) and decreased interior space than those same, more road-oriented LUVs.
Of course, muscle-bound beaus also offer plenty of benefits. The GX 470’s exterior is handsome, with a tall, narrow stance and strong, rounded metal. The GX is powerful without being overly steroidal: a silky smooth, 263-hp V-8 engine is coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission and full-time 4WD. And the GX keeps you safe with tons of airbags, including roll-sensing side curtains; stability and traction control; and Lexus’s Downhill Assist Control, which automatically brakes during low-gear descents to maintain a constant speed and drive line.

2008 Lexus GX470

But we like our men for what’s on the inside, right? Accordingly, the cabin of the seven-seat GX 470 is decked out with simple luxuries such as fine leather upholstery, polished wood trim, and an 11-speaker sound system with a MP3 jack. If you prefer a higher-tech ride, you can spring for options like the DVD entertainment system with Bluetooth headphones or the DVD navigation system with an integrated backup cam. But for over-the-top features, such as tri-zone climate control, power liftgates, and super-sized sunroofs, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
He’s big, but he still can dance. For its body type, the GX 470 is agile, with that legendary Lexus-smooth ride. My test drive was confined to pavement, but on both the freeways and the twisty secondary roads, the GX 470 responded well to driver inputs. Of course, like all utes, the GX 470 excels during straight-line highway driving, when, with its command seating and high profile, you own the road.
So, is the 2008 Lexus GX 470 still the LUV to love? If you are among those utility vehicle owners who actually haul big loads or go off the road, and you like to do so in high style, then the GX 470 is just the LUV for you. Don’t need the luxury fixings? Check out Toyota’s 4Runner. Don’t need to haul or go off road? Check out some station wagons—you just might love ‘em.

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