While most shoppers for larger, premium SUV’s have switched over to more popular crossovers, the recently redesigned Lexus GX460 is proof that a market for true-blue premium truck-based SUV’s still do exist, even if the market has shrunk from its hay day a decade ago. Now in its second generation, the GX is still a body on frame SUV, based on the new 4Runner. A concept some would call antiquated, but how does the Lexus fare in modern times? Read on to see!
For appearance, Lexus went for Classic SUV, not cutting edge. To be sure, there is just enough jewelry on the car to remind those around you this is a luxury vehicle, but the overriding theme is that of a masculine, no-nonsense SUV. The prospect of building an SUV that looks as much at home pulling up to a swank resort as getting thrashed in the outback is not new territory for Toyota/Lexus, and it shows. While lacking the charm and persona of a modern Land Rover, the GX460 acquits itself well no matter the surroundings.
Naturally, it is the interior of the GX460 where the Lexus DNA comes unto its own. Despite a feature-laden cabin, the GX is fairly easy to get used to after a quick glance around the controls. Levels of fit and finish, and quality of materials are excellent, as expected. The navigation on Toyota/Lexus automobiles remains my favorite in the business. Our test car was equipped with the standard nine speaker sound system. The quality was decent, but any music fan or audiophile is going to want to spring for the optional Mark Levinson audio system.
While there was never any question about the quality of the interior, I sometimes got the impression there was not a “wow” factor when passengers climbed into the Lexus. Make no mistake-Lexus did not skimp at all on the luxury front on the GX, but keep in mind-this is a luxury ‘ute with serious off-road capability. As such, a baroque interior is simply not practical for a vehicle like this.
The GX460 is available with one drivetrain only. Power is delivered by a 4.6L V-8 with 301hp on tap, coupled to a six-speed automatic. All GX’s are all-wheel drive, with a dual range transfer case. This engine is just slightly smaller than the one it replaces, but offers up an additional 40hp with a 13% increase in fuel efficiency. The Lexus gave more than acceptable acceleration off the line, and passing was never a problem. The GX460 has a maximum towing capacity of 6,500lbs.
Lexus engineers worked some magic on the GX, considering its body on frame architecture, this is actually a very smooth, confidence inspiring truck to drive in any on-road situation. I don’t suggest you start hunting down your neighbor’s Porsche Cayenne when the road gets twisty, but for what it is, the GX460 is quite easy to drive, if not guilty of the typical Lexus traits of being a little too isolated for the enthusiast driver.
The GX460 is available in two trim levels, base and Premium. Our test car was the base model, which starts at $51,970USD. Sprinkle in goodies like front/side monitors, crawl control, navigation, park assist, and the Comfort Plus package, the tally comes to $58,039, including delivery. Inexpensive? By no means, but that’s the price to pay for the performance, on and off road, and the prestige you get with the Lexus badge.
In sizing up the GX460, the Yankee in me tells me to save myself about $16,000 by purchasing a fully optioned Toyota 4Runner Limited. Yes, I forgo the V-8, lose the prestige of the Lexus badge and some timber sprinkled throughout the interior, in addition to some hi-tech options. But that’s just me. In 2010, Lexus found over 16,000 buyers in the US alone who were more than happy to pay that premium. While the market for a truck-based premium SUV has indeed shrunk, the GX460 is proof that to sell that well today, you must meet and exceed the expectations of your buyer, and in this case the GX excels.