I’m sure there are some conspiracy theorists out there convinced I work for Lexus now, but I don’t. I swear. Like really, fleet availability for week long reviews is what it is. So lets get to this GX460 shall we.
The GX460 has a close cousin with a name you may be more familiar with, the Toyota 4Runner. Like the 4Runner the Lexus GX 460 feels like a truck thanks to its body-on-frame construction. In all my time living in Colorado, I have yet to see a Lexus on a trail, but the GX’s shocks feel like they could soften up some surprisingly rough terrain and the 4Runner frame lends to that confidence. Unfortunately, you never see a Lexus on a trail. So all that off-road potential equates to a luxury-suv-truck that turns like a container ship. For whom does this GX 460 exist I quickly asked myself.
Outside of the US you can find the GX460 under a different name, the Land Cruiser Prado, because overseas it’s marketed as a baby Land Cruiser. Off-road worthy first, luxury vehicle second. In the US, however, the GX460 is sold under the Lexus name. And as we’ve established Lexus is a road going manufacturer in the US. But they’ve been selling these things for around 10 years, so what do I know?
Yes the GX460 does get the Lexus brand Predator face, I like it, you may not. The rear is significantly less polarizing, but a bit bloated. There’s just a little too much junk in that trunk, or maybe I’m just not a booty-man… The GX’s profile looks really tall, almost absurdly so.
You’ll find a smattering of plastic upon first glance in the cabin, not bad plastic, but for those of you plastic snobs it is there. Personally, I think Lexus did a good job putting hard materials in areas that get bashed by knees or shoes and saved leather for where arms rest, or where nice details won’t look worn after a year of use. In the middle of the dash, though, is a real mess. One seriously overstyled, over-buttonized digital display. At first it is all just too much, so many buttons and lights. But after a day or two I found the GX dash appealing. All the buttons are easy to find, and nicely backlit in LED white. The upside to buttons is that you don’t have to navigate through endless menus on the display, and for that I am thankful.
Lexus does know how to do luxury seating. The GX’s seats were silky soft. Couch soft in fact, with support in just that right places so that softness never became a bad thing. I would road-trip on those seats cross country any day.
Lexus’ infotainment software is called Enform, and it’s not my favorite. The graphics look dated and unappealing, the delay in response time from input to action is mind numbingly frustrating and the radio selection system had me scratching my head as it slowly tuned between stations and offered a quick selection menu that had no relevant stations whatsoever — seriously take a page from Audi’s book on that one. At times I wondered if the screen was hooked up to it’s processor via a 56k dialup connection. The upside? Navigating though the Enform menus is fairly intuitive and the GPS’ direction-reading voice was pleasant and actually pronounced street names correctly.
Mark Levinson is the stereo co-brander, and as always I was impressed with the sound quality once I got hooked up on XM, a digital source or HD Radio.
The 302 hp 4.6 V8 is not economical by any stretch of the imagination. A week of high altitude driving later and my average was 15.3 MPG. EPA puts combined consumption at 17. Off the line throttle response reminded me of the infotainment system, but if motivated by a heavy foot the GX will pickup and go. If you can afford the gas, that is, who am I kidding? You just spent $60,000 on an SUV, you don’t give a rats ass what gas costs.
The V8 can really be felt when the GX is already rolling, a quick kick and you can pass without trouble.
The automatic gearbox passes through Park to Drive with satisfying force. While there is a “Sport Mode,” the GX treats driver gear inputs more like a suggestion than an order and shifts when it’s good and ready. So what’s the point? I didn’t really want Sport shifting in my luxury-suv-truck anyway.
Low range engages with a simple flick of a switch followed by a lot of beeping. In low the GX will happily haul itself out of a ditch, but I wouldn’t go so far as to compare it to the crawl ratio on Jeep.
I had to leave a lot of lead time to stops with the GX460, which scared me a bit. Not because I can’t appreciate the need to lead a stop in a full-weight SUV, but because most of the GX’s or really any SUV on the street I see are driven like they’re Honda Civics. Lexus really needs to up the brake game in this vehicle, because the majority of people driving this boat aren’t going to adjust to brakes that are basically non-functional for the first inch or so and that require a lot more input than I would have thought necessary to halt the vehicle. Maybe my GX460 with 5300 miles on it had already ran through its brake pads…
A lot of SUVs sport those sun visor messages telling you the vehicle isn’t a sports coupe and that you need to actually slow down before you turn. I hate those things, despise them actually. But the GX460 absolutely 100% needs one. The GX body-rolls like crazy, so much so that I thought for sure I was going to roll it during my week with the vehicle. Switching the suspension from “Comfort” to “Sport” mode makes the body roll more bearable, but it’s still there and if you can actually feel the driving characteristics of the vehicle you drive it will haunt you. Pair that body roll with some squishy breaks and I’m glad it has so many safety features.
Just keep the GX going straight and enjoy knocking out those post winter pot holes.
Besides those damn nice seats, I can’t see a reason to spend sixty grand on a Lexus GX when you could have a loaded Toyota 4Runner in the forties. A Lexus does hold its value, as does a Toyota, so if you really have to have that Lexus name and you want an SUV that has a crazy soft ride you’ll be hard pressed to find an alternative.
The GX is a comfy luxury SUV with more off-road ability hiding between its painted bumpers than most. It’s slow, uneconomical, brakes like a boat and rolls like the ocean.
I like the captain seat, it was comfortable, controls for everything were at hand, albeit the infotainment system came up short, I could spend all day in it. But I can’t for the life of me see who would buy it. It’s half off-road fearing luxury with all the downsides of on-road driving that come with a trail rated truck.