The GX is a very good choice if you’re looking for an extremely well-equipped, luxuriously appointed, and genuinely capable off-roader. In other words, a Land Rover that won’t ever break down. Its on-road manners are more than acceptable, with no scary body roll and minimal, if still present brake dive. There’s likewise little to fault inside, even if it is possible at this point to get a Toyota 4Runner with almost as much leather. The small V-8 won’t win any awards for efficiency or quietness, but it certainly muscles the GX’s 5340-pounds around with authority.
Still, the GX won’t fool anyone looking for a big crossover or even a more sporting SUV like the Volkswagen Touareg or Range Rover Sport. And given the fact that Lexus sold about 90,000 RXs last year against some 6000 GXs, wouldn’t it have made sense to redesign the latter as a larger crossover rather than a body-on-frame truck? Granted, the GX shares its platform with the Toyota 4Runner, the Toyota FJ Cruiser, and the Toyota Land Rover Prado that is sold in other markets. Thus, it doesn’t cost all that much to develop, but it does nothing to compete with the likes of the Buick Enclave, BMW X5, and Acura MDX.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Assuming you’re looking for an actual body-on-frame luxury SUV, the Lexus GX460 is a superb choice. From the moment you grasp the wood steering wheel rim it’s clear Lexus has tidied up the Toyota platform the GX is based on where the customer actually interacts with the vehicle enough to warrant the corresponding increase in price.
Despite the stereotype that off-roaders all swill beer from a can, there are some folks who prefer to end a day on the trail with a luxurious hotel room and a five-star meal. For these people, the choices have been pared down to Lexus and Land Rover, with the possible inclusion of a Mercedes-Benz G550. With a base price of roughly half the G550’s, and much better reliability than Land Rovers, it’s easy to see why the Lexus has some appeal. Of course there is a limited market for such products, but Lexus managed to sell 3002 examples of the GX in the first two months of 2010 compared to Land Rover’s total brand sales of 3990. Keeping in mind the absolute avalanche of negative press Toyota and Lexus have received in the wake of the recalls, those sales figures are astonishing.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
In a world flooded with gargantuan luxury SUVs with mitigated off-road credentials, the GX remains a breath of fresh air — it remains equally at home on the open range as it is on the open road. Lexus’s recipe calls for an astounding amount of off-road prowess with an impeccably luxurious cabin, and the result is, as others have mentioned, nothing short of a verifiable competitor to the Land Rover LR4.
Still, I’m a little puzzled why certain features, like the multi-terrain select and the multi-terrain view (a nifty camera system that displays obstacles near your front wheels and rockers), don’t make their way into the North American model. I know not everyone needs locking differentials and the like (hence the fact that the car-based RX handily outsells the truckish GX), let alone the capacity to crawl over boulders. Still, in my mind, that’s an increasingly rare characteristic — and one Lexus should build up, not strip out.
On another note, I need to praise this audio system — Lexus has incorporated Mark Levinson systems into a number of its most recent models, but the one in the GX carried more presence, more clarity than others (even the LS). I dare say it’d make Mark Levinson himself (who is no longer with his namesake firm) quite proud.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
I don’t care how well behaved the Lexus GX460 is. This is a completely irrelevant truck for the luxury brand. Remember two years ago when the Detroit Three were derided as dinosaurs for building monstrous SUVs when everyone wanted small cars and crossovers? So what’s Lexus doing drumming up a new generation of GX when sales fell 62 percent last year?
I also struggle to believe that anyone buying a $60,000 Lexus is willing to put a fender into a rock trying to take this behemoth off-road. The hardware is overkill, the styling is ostentatious, and the whole concept is unnecessary. It’s our job to evaluate vehicles in their context. In the context of a slow economy, increasing environmental awareness, and subdued glitz, the GX460 is a clumsy product. It’s the kind of mistake that landed Detroit automakers in bankruptcy. Instead, The RX needs to be made larger or smaller to make room for a second crossover to round out the Lexus lineup. Continuing to build the GX460 and LX570 may be the cheap and easy route, but one that won’t pay off in the long run.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2010 Lexus GX460 Premium
Base price (with destination): $57,640
Price as tested: $65,754
4.6L 32-Valve DOHC V-8 engine
6-Speed automatic transmission with manual controls
Full-time 4WD w/ torsen limited slip differential
Front independent double-wishbone suspension
Kinetic dynamic suspension system
Four-wheel disc brakes
Active front headrests
Front and 2nd row outboard seatbelt pre-tensioners
Electronic stability control (VSC)
Automatic collision notification
Stolen vehicle location
Emergency assist button and enhance roadside assistance
10-way power/heated & ventilated front seats
60/40 split middle row seat, 50/50 split third row seat
Lexus 9-speaker premium sound system
In-dash 6-CD changer
AM/FM/CD/Bluetooth technology/USB Port/XM Radio
Adaptive front lighting system w/ HIDS
Wood & leather trimmed heated steering wheel
Automatic dimming inside/outside rearview mirrors
Three-zone automatic climate control
Heated middle row seats
Rear air-suspension w/ automatic load leveling
Options on this vehicle:
Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package – $3930
– Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound w/ DVD/CD Changer, 17-speaker, 7.1 Channel Architecture
– Hard-drive Navigation system
– Lexus Enform w/ destination Assist & eDestination
Pre-Collision System & Dynamic Radar Cruise Control w/
crawl control – $1720
Dual-screen Rear-Seat Entertainment System – $2400
Key options not on vehicle:
15 / 20 / 17 mpg
Size: 4.6L 32-Valve V-8
Horsepower: 301 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 329 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
All Wheel Drive
6-Speed sequential shift automatic
Curb weight: 5340 lbs
18-inch alloy wheels
265/60R18 Michelin Latitude tour hp all-season tires