The GX 460 sits between the sleek RX crossover and the giant LX 570 in the Lexus lineup. The seven-seat GX seems more suited for the dimensions of city driving than does its big brother. The interior design may seem a bit dated, but then it is a traditional SUV that can handle light off-roading while doing so in Lexus luxury.
Appearance: There's no denying the GX 460's bulk, but the tall SUV at least manages to look stately. The GX's more contemporary vibe comes courtesy of the spindle grille that's now the standard-bearer for the Lexus line. LED headlamps, daylight running lights and new clear taillight lenses also help. Our Luxury-trim tester also had LED fog lamps and 18-inch six-spoke wheels in liquid graphite finish.
Performance: The 4.6-liter V-8 produces 301 horsepower, which we found disappointing. The power is adequate, but just so with its 5,200-pound weight. Then there's the not-so-surprising estimated MPG of 15 city and 20 highway. Maybe it's time to think about using a new powerplant? The GX is strong enough to tow up to 6,500 pounds and now has standard trailer sway control. The ride is planted and Lexus-like — even over rough surfaces — despite its traditional body-on-frame construction. The 6-speed sequential-shift automatic is smooth but we felt it to be a bit hesitant on downshifts. For those who do more that line up in school car lines, the full-time four-wheel-drive GX has a limited-slip center differential with electronic locking. The Luxury trim also includes Adaptive Variable Suspension with three modes (Normal, Comfort and Sport). There's also Crawl and Downhill Assist Control. Peter, ever the city slicker, knows these features are important for off-roaders, but admits he's not the best judge of them.
Interior: Our top-of-the-line tester had semi-aniline leather-trimmed front seats — heated or cooled — for a commanding driving position. The quiet cabin's fit and finish were first-rate, but we didn't care for some of the trim: old-school polished wood and metal-toned hard plastic. Still, our tester's sepia (mocha-colored) interior was rich and classy. The GX lacks the mouse-controlled multimedia system we're used to in other Lexus models. For 2014, the GX has an 8-inch touchscreen, which we actually preferred. The split-fold second-row seats can slide forward and backward, and recline. The outboard seats can be heated and the row has its own climate controls. The GX's way-back seats are best for kids. They fold flat with the push of a button. Our tester's optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system was indeed premium. Our tester also had some much-welcome safety features: blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, backup camera and park assist. Another dated feature: Unlike most SUVs, the rear tailgate opens to the side, which can be impractical in tight spaces.
Our 3 favorites
Height: The commanding view from the driver's seat.
Controls: The gauges and switches are easy to read and within reach.
Ground clearance: It's 8.1 inches and there is adjustable air suspension.
Practicality: Lots of cargo space with power fold-down third row.
Towing: Capable of up to 6,500 pounds, with trailer sway control.
Touchscreen: Easy to use; no mouse.
The bottom line: The Lexus GX 460 is one comfortable dinosaur, but unless you need the off-road capability, we'd opt for a more fuel-efficient family hauler.