Giddy with Gadgets
XM radio, a 6-disc CD changer, and a 9-speaker audio system are standard. Bluetooth wireless accommodation, a mini audio jack, a USB connection, and extra 12-volt power sockets are also included as base gear. A 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system rated at 330 watts is available that can itself be upgraded to 7.1-channel architecture with an extra high-output amplifier. To chill the kids, there's rear AC and an entertainment system that positions video screens on the back of each front seat. With two distinct channels available, the kids can enjoy DVD movies or games or both simultaneously.
In the safety category, the new GX offers radar-based cruise control that will automatically activate the brakes and tighten the seat belts if the likelihood of a collision is detected. A camera also determines whether the driver is paying attention or is distracted by text messaging or child rearing. Flashing lights and audible beeps serve as the wake-up call. A lane departure alert sounds a buzzer and displays a warning image when the vehicle wanders from its proper path.
Plenty of Power
The new 4.6-liter V-8, shared with the Toyota Tundra, features variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust systems but not direct fuel injection. (Lexus admits that this desirable feature was skipped for cost reasons.) Compared to the outgoing 4.7-liter V-8, power is up 38 horses and torque is better by 6 lb-ft. In conjunction with a new 6-speed automatic (replacing last year's 5-speed), the run to sixty mph is shorter by 0.3 seconds and mileage is improved one mpg in city ratings and by two mpg on the highway. The top two gear ratios provide overdrive and the axle ratio is slightly taller than before.
This powertrain has impeccable manners. It's quiet, smooth, and throttle responsive. Versus the V-6s common to the competition, Lexus has a definite advantage here. The 6500-pound tow rating complies with the SAE's new rigorous testing standards.
The 4wd system operates full time thanks to a center differential with a Torsen limited-slip device. That differential (but not the rear one) can be locked in both high and (2.566:1) low range. Another worthwhile off-road feature is a creep system that inches the vehicle along with the driver able to adjust velocity between one and 3.7-mph with a toggle switch located next to the shift lever.