June 18, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 14:42
Although redesigned for 2010, the Lexus GX460 is something of an anachronism in a world dominated by crossover SUVs. Its body-on-frame construction and Land Rover-esque ruggedness, coupled with all the luxury and refinement Lexus buyers expect, make it an intriguing but expensive choice for buyers who won’t settle for less.
Not surprisingly, our drivers had mixed reactions. One loved the GX460’s luxury, competent road manners and reassuring bulk. Another felt it was so expensive, with a bottom line of more than $58,000, that many drivers would be afraid to exploit the off-road prowess they’re paying for. One test-driver, obsessed with fuel economy, was impressed that the GX460 beat its EPA rating of 20 mpg on a straight highway run, but was disappointed to note it required premium fuel.Based on the rugged Toyota 4Runner, the GX460 comes with a 301-horsepower V-8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive. With a small third-row split seat, the GX460 seats seven.
Being a Lexus, it’s sumptuously appointed. Not only is the interior comprised of exceptionally high-quality materials, but it’s logically laid out. And safety is a high priority, with such innovations as rollover-sensing side-curtain air bags and an emergency-communications system called Safety Connect. Our GX460 had a wide-view front and side monitor system with crawl control, a $720 option presumably meant to enhance the off-road experience, but useful as well in piloting the big SUV in narrow driveways and parking lots.
Actually, the GX460 is considered a midsize SUV, competing with such luxury off-road-capable models as the Land Rover LR4 and Acura MDX.
Front passengers are pampered in every way. Those in the back seat fare nearly as well, with ample knee room and head room, and seats reminiscent of a particularly comfortable living-room couch. The third row is difficult for big, tall adults to access, but medium-sized grownups with some agility can ride fairly comfortably back there if the second-row passengers are willing to give up an inch or two of knee room.
On the road, the Lexus handles consistently and somewhat more crisply than one might expect from a body-on-frame SUV. One of our drivers felt the steering was too light to the touch, making the solid, stable truck feel skittish at first. For an SUV, the ride is quiet as a vault and unexpectedly smooth, more reminiscent of the best crossover models.
The GX460’s major shortcomings are its side-hinged tailgate, which swings out from the driver’s side, and its lack of usable cargo capacity behind the third-row seat. With the seat upright in use, luggage capacity is just 4.2 cubic feet, less than that of a Volkswagen New Beetle, and about a third of the floor-to-ceiling capacity of a smart fortwo. Lower the seat and capacity increases to a more SUV-like 17 cubic feet.
This is a new model, without crash-testing or reliability records. But it’s a Lexus, so safety and reliability are almost a given.
Engine: 4.6-liter V-8, 301 horsepower, 329 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 5,305 lb.
Suspension: Double wishbone front, solid live axle rear
Ground clearance: 8.1 inches
Wheels: 18-inch by 7.5-inch alloy
Tires: 265/60R18 all-terrain
Seating capacity: 7
Luggage capacity: 4.2 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 65 cu. ft.
Maximum towing capacity: 6,500 lb.
Fuel capacity: 20.1 gallons
Fuel economy: 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
Fuel type: Premium unleaded
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