An all-new model in 2004, the Lexus GX 470 enters 2006 unchanged.

Positioned between the RX 330 and the LX 470, the GX 470 shares its body-on-frame architecture with the Toyota 4Runner, although its roof is slightly taller, for more headroom. Its three rows of seats accommodate up to eight passengers.

As its name suggests, the GX 470 is powered by a 4.7-litre V8, mated to a five-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. It uses a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a Torsen torque-sensing centre differential. Under normal driving conditions, the torque is split 60 per cent rear, 40 per cent front. Since the GX 470 also shares the 4Runner’s off-road capability, it comes with downhill assist control, hill-start assist control, a limited-slip centre differential and skid plates.

Features include 17-inch alloy wheels, load-levelling rear air suspension with adjustable height control, dual-zone front automatic air conditioning, rear climate control, six-CD/cassette Mark Levinson audio system with fourteen speakers and wheel-mounted controls, heated leather seats with eight-way power driver and four-way power passenger adjustment, driver’s position memory, 60/40 split fold-and-tumble middle seats, 50/50 split rear bench seat with folding seatback, auto up/down on all windows, auto-dimming rearview mirror, wood and leather-wrapped wheel with power tilt and telescope, birds-eye maple trim, privacy glass, roof rack, power sunroof, illuminated running boards, heated mirrors with memory and reverse auto tilt, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, fog lamps and integrated garage door opener.

The sole option is the Ultra Premium Package, which adds a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with two sets of wireless headphones, and DVD-based navigation system with backup camera.

More rugged than the RX 330, more manoeuvrable than the LX 470, the GX 470 is cargo-hauling luxury. The third-row seat can be folded out of the way or removed entirely if necessary. It’s really too refined for nasty off-road stuff; illuminated running boards don’t really seem made for cutting through the underbrush. The GX 470 is in its element on the highway, with a butter-smooth ride and luxurious appointments. Should the extra goodies not be as important, the priciest V8-powered Toyota 4Runner Limited is $15,515 less.

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