Our most luxurious long-term test vehicle has found its way into some pretty unusual settings. Probably because whenever a staffer wants to go camping or take a long road trip with friends or family, scamming the Lexus from whomever it's assigned to that week has become commonplace.
Not that the other vehicles in our test fleet aren't good enough-it's just that once you get behind the wheel of a GX 470, you simply forget about anything else you've driven lately. The goal, as we've come to realize, is to figure out how to keep the thing parked in front of one's own home as long as possible. "Uh, yeah, well, I had to haul a friend's stuff and I haven't unloaded it quite yet," proclaims one unnamed editor. Or, how about the excuse of, "Really, I need the GX to go snowboarding this weekend-I don't want to deal with my gear getting wet in the bed of a pickup." The creative excuses flow like water around here. Maybe it's because of the heated leather seating surfaces, or maybe it's the Bird's Eye maple wood trim that surrounds all occupants. Or perhaps it's the 11-speaker 124-watt Mark Levinson DVD sound system that effortlessly blankets the entire cabin in rich acoustics second only to a live performance.
Who knows why our rough-and-ready editorial staff prefers to drive a vehicle fit for a princess instead of a locked-up, 400hp diesel pickup on 35-inch mud tires? Maybe we've gone soft. Or maybe, just maybe, we understand that every aspect of day-to-day life builds stress, and a place as peaceful and silent as the interior of the GX 470 is like a recess from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, a world that would probably be better off altogether if everyone drove a vehicle like this.
Previous report: Feb. '05
Base price: $45,375
Price as tested: $54,482
Four-wheel-drive system: Lever-shifted two-speed transfer case
Miles to date: 15,741
Miles since last report: 10,628
Average mpg: 12.6
Best tank mpg: 17.5
Worst tank mpg: 11.1
Oil change: $36.95
WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT:
Hot: Most testdrivers commented on the vehicle's excellent handling, both on- and off-road. Minimally significant to the overall package, but still noteworthy, is the rear climate control and rear-seat entertainment system. Both adults and children alike enjoy these creature comforts.
Not: We wish the rear fold-and-tumble second-row seat was removable to allow for greater cargo capacity when desired. Also absent on the GX 470 is an interior rear door handle, which would make exiting from a makeshift sleeping area easier while camping.
LOGBOOK QUOTES:* "When camping, don't forget to turn off the rear DVD screen. I ran the battery down overnight."
* "The automatic side mirrors don't help much when you're trying to parallel park."
* "I love the rear vision camera-it makes backing up so easy."