In 2010, during our first look at the revised Lexus GX460, we likened the mid-size luxe-UV to a woolly mammoth. Surely, we pronounced, the wave of lighter, unibody crossovers with independent suspensions and more carlike driving characteristics—like the brand’s own RX and NX—soon would relegate traditional truck-based body-on-frame SUVs such as the GX to a rarely traveled corner of a dusty museum. Well, snap. Last year, the GX460 was the Lexus brand’s third-best-selling SUV (even though the Lexus lineup had only four SUVs). In calendar year 2015, it gathered more buyers than the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Infiniti QX80, Land Rover LR4, andRange Rover Sport, and it nearly kept pace with the Mercedes-Benz GL. However, the Acura MDX, BMW X5, and the combined Mercedes-Benz M-class/GLE all outsold the Lexus by a ratio of more than two to one. It has certainly outlasted just about all of its mid-size, truck-based peers. Add in booming sales of other examples of the larger breed—Escalades, Navigators, and such—and the expected demise of the traditional body-on-frame SUV has been slower than anticipated. Blame cheap gasoline.
Soup to LuxeUnder the Lexus glitz, the GX is most closely related to the Toyota 4Runner—ladder frame, live rear axle, and all—but with a V-8, standard third row, four-wheel drive, and luxury accoutrements. A Toyota in a tux, if you will. It really hasn’t changed much since it first slithered out of the primordial soup as a 2003 model GX470. There’s some new technology, namely updated safety and infotainment items, but it’s still the same basic creature. Well, plus a distinctive, bigger-than-life spindle-shaped grille that arrived with the 2014 model and looks like it might just swallow whatever gets in its way.
This Lexus SUV isn’t the ride you’d choose to hustle down a twisty road or to maximize fuel economy. (We averaged 17 mpg, and we recorded 22 mpg in our 200-mile test at 75 mph.) In our experience, it doesn’t encourage spirited driving. For one thing, the steering lacks good communication skills. The brake pedal is mushy at the top of travel; even though we didn’t experience any fade during our testing, hyperactive ABS intervention led to some pretty long stopping distances from 70 mph. While the tall 265/60R-18 mud-and-snow tires are just what you’d want for poor traction situations, on a dry road there isn’t an abundance of lateral grip. The tall body sits atop a rugged ladder frame, and occupants feel the chassis rocking from side to side on curves and pitching fore and aft with throttle and brake applications. In this case, dive, squat, and roll are not Olympic events. But the GX’s ride is comfortable, absorbing harsh impacts well. A three-position switch offers Normal, Sport and Comfort settings for the available adaptive dampers that provide slight but detectable changes in ride quality.
Big, Strong ArmsWhat the GX460 offers is surefire capability to get you there. Under a luxury veneer, the GX packs the same, fortified toughness that underpins the Land Cruisers that tackle all sorts of desert and mountain terrain around the world. The GX has big, strong arms to carry your load. The 4.6-liter silent, torque-rich, premium-fuel-guzzling V-8 seldom works up a sweat—although a 7.0-second zero-to-60-mph time won’t win many races against the GX’s peers. That engine is hooked to a well-behaved six-speed automatic transmission and confidence-inspiring full-time four-wheel drive. The 4WD has an electronically locking Torsen center differential and a low-range position we doubt many GX buyers will ever use or need. But like a bodyguard, it’s packing heat just in case.
The climb into the cabin does take some expenditure of energy. Happily, the standard but narrow running boards help the shorter-statured buyers we suspect make up the lion’s share of ownership get there. Once aboard, the GX’s low seat cushions mean one’s legs are splayed out as if sitting on elementary-school furniture, but the tall stance affords the occupants the commanding view SUV buyers seek. Outward visibility is decent.
The GX460’s interior fitments are well populated with rich wood and soft leather. But the interior suffers from an overabundance of cheap-looking silver-painted hard plastic and an odd mix of analog and digital infotainment and climate controls on the console and center stack. Fan speed adjustments, for example, can only be made after accessing menus on the touchscreen; other HVAC functions are handled more quickly via large knobs and buttons on the dash.
Swingin’ TailgateOnce ensconced, front-seat occupants will find their chairs comfortable. We can’t say the same for the hard-bottomed cushions of the reclining and sliding second-row seats, while the third-row seats—crammed into what should be the cargo bay—are suitable only for pre-adults agile enough to parkour back there. Unfortunately, there’s little usable cargo space available when the back seat is erect for use. Way cool and rare in modern SUVs, however, is the GX’s tailgate glass, which opens separately and is great for dropping in groceries and gear without having to open the entire tailgate. Said tailgate swings out to run parallel to the curb, just like Aunt Gertrude’s old Chevrolet Kingswood wagon. You’ll have to walk around to the traffic side to gain access—a constant reminder that the engineers in Japan who designed this vehicle drive on the other side of the road.
Standard GX fitments including heated and ventilated power front seats, heated outboard second-row seats, mahogany wood trim, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel, Siri Eyes Free mode, SiriusXM HD radio, a backup camera, a power moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, and three-zone automatic climate control. Our test vehicle was the top-of-the-GX-heap $62,455 Luxury Edition, which nets more amenities, such as buttery soft semi-aniline leather seating, a power-folding third row, a heated wood-trimmed steering wheel, adaptive damping, auto-leveling rear air springs, and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert. A rich-sounding 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system ($1145) and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system ($1970) brought the as-tested total to $65,570.
Despite the GX’s obvious age in a market that craves new, this SUV is migrating from dealership showroom floors to suburban garages in solid numbers. True, few GXs ever put a wheel more than a few inches off the pavement. But come bad weather, especially deep snow, and we’ll bet that its generous ground clearance and Land Cruiser–proven four-wheel-drive mechanicals will allow it to range far wider than most of the SUV herd. Call it the Throwback Thursday SUV, making sure you arrive at your intended destination in comfort.
Original Source: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2016-lexus-gx460-test-review