Lap Of Luxury
The GX 460's cabin faces the challenging mission of accommodating seven passengers in three rows while making one and all feel like lotto winners. The effort is a success in the first row where the instrument panel glows with polished wood, elegantly simulated metal, and enough electronic gadgets to overwhelm a Best Buy clerk. Other occupants suffer with insufficient padding to support them comfortably on a long trip. At least everyone in rows two and three benefits from an adjustable backrest.
Access to the third row is a tight scrunch on the right side only and the kids sentenced to those seats are likely to feel they've been punished for bad behavior. Leg room is limited, the view forward is restricted, and escape is frustrated by a hard-to-actuate release lever. Any parent who neglects to purchase the optional rear entertainment system is toying with disaster for any trip longer than a run to soccer practice.
The problem is packaging. After the live rear axle, the husky frame, and the full-size spare are accommodated, the 109.8-inch wheelbase and 189.2-inch overall length don't provide sufficient space for full-grown rear-cabin occupants. Only 4.2 cubic feet of cargo space is provided behind the third row. To make the space as usable as possible, Lexus has added a power folding feature as standard equipment.
Another concern is access to the cargo hold. The GX's cousin-Toyota's 4Runner-has a simple roof-hinged hatch with a roll-down rear glass. But here the door swings open on a right-side hinge, which exposes users to traffic. In addition, attaching a trailer severely restricts the door's opening angle.
The standard leather and dark wood accents are up to Lexus standards for quality and refinement. A 4.2-inch center-stack display monitor is standard and an 8-inch touch screen is included with the optional navigation system. The metal-look control knobs are satisfying to see and operate. The previous transfer case shift lever has been replaced by a toggle switch that efficiently engages all four 4wd modes.
A remarkable 10 air bags are standard. Also impressive are the 10 grab handles sprinkled throughout to assist entry and exit. The instrument cluster is a delightful array of three liquid-crystal displays and four glowing needle and digit gauges. Scrolling through the menu allows displaying such useful info as which way the front wheels are pointing. Camera monitors provide a clear look at three sides of the vehicle to avoid backing over obstacles and for hugging curbs during parallel parking. This is also a handy way to keep an eye on boulders, cacti, and crevices during off-road excursions.