First Drive: 2010 Lexus GX 460

Don Sherman

Unusual Underpinnings

Live rear axles have gone the way of the buggy whip except for pickup trucks and large, traditional SUVs. One still resides here so that Lexus can share a few parts with a lowly Toyota and to maintain the GX's reputation for off-road and towing stamina. To help this seemingly crude configuration work better than it should, all GXs are equipped with what Lexus calls a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension. That fancy label stands for a means of disabling and interconnecting the front and rear anti-roll bars when doing so delivers a handling benefit. In addition, a rear air suspension and electronically adjustable dampers are available as an option on premium-grade editions.

The chassis package works remarkably well off road. Huge disruptions are taken in stride and the suspension never crashes noisily into the bump stops. The GX is also compact enough to slip through tight confines without littering trails with sacrificial parts.

Unfortunately, the GX doesn't shine on-road. The no-feel steering and mushy brake pedal kill cancel any chance of this ride appealing to driving enthusiasts. The vehicle's nose dips during even modest brake applications and there's noticeable squat during acceleration. The turn circle is unwieldy and major bumps excite the rear axle's tendency to hump the rear of the vehicle into the air.

Out of Phase With the Times

When this new GX got the green light four or so years ago, the world was a different place. Today, Lexus doesn't really need two V-8-powered, body-on-frame utility vehicles. A more appropriate stable mate to the successful RX model might be a crossover patterned after the GMC Acadia which delivers about 10-percent better gas mileage and more interior space, albeit without the GX's off-road prowess.

That leaves the new GX 460 as a niche product, just the ticket for longstanding Lexus devotees and a great alternative to the Land Rover LR3 but otherwise an expensive indulgence with limited appeal.

This is what I hate about these so called reviews. You talk and talk and then talk some more but don't tell me 1 simple thing - IS IT SMOOTH ON THE HIGHWAY OR NOT? Geez, this urks me!
Well, well, well,Lexus GX, LX or even Land Cruiser hasn't offered anything to equal or surpass the 1997 models. Terrible styling and overbloated interiors. When wil they wake-up or will the S. Koreans and Chinnesse show them to the door...?Lexus, where have you gone?

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