The Lexus GX 470 bucks the trend. Most luxury SUVs nowadays are based on cars. They are essentially high-riding, all-wheel-drive alternatives to luxury station wagons and are usually built on front-wheel-drive unit-body sedan platforms. The GX 470, on the other hand, is based on traditional truck engineering concepts. It uses body-on-frame construction, a rear-wheel-drive chassis layout, a rugged four-wheel-drive system, and a live rear axle. Granted, the GX 470 rides smoothly and coddles its occupants in Lexus luxury. Yet it also offers incredibly good off-road capability that rivals the best from Jeep and Land Rover. That's not surprising because the Lexus GX 470 shares most of its engineering with the Toyota 4Runner, a newly redesigned SUV that offers truly impressive off-road prowess. If you want an authentic luxury SUV, this is an excellent choice. The GX 470 benefits from a powerful 4.7-liter V8 and a five-speed automatic that are responsive, smooth and quiet. It's equipped with the latest in off-road technology, including a suspension and drivetrain that gives it the ability to go virtually anywhere. But it's also prepared very well for on-road driving, where most of us spend most of our time. Its brakes are excellent and it's equipped with Vehicle Skid Control, a sophisticated system designed to help the driver maintain control in slippery corners. Inside, the GX 470 is roomy and quiet, swathed in leather and birdseye maple. It is a Lexus, so everything is where it's supposed to be; the switchgear and other controls are a study in ergonomic excellence. Lexus launched the GX 470 as a new nameplate for 2003. Advanced safety features have been added for 2004, including roll-sensing curtain airbags designed to deploy in a severe tilt angle, roll, or lateral G force (side impact). Also for 2004 new is an optional electro-hydraulic suspension system designed to improve control and comfort on road and off road.