Class: Premium Midsize Crossover
Miles Driven: 1584
Fuel Used: 88.7 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 17.9 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Driving mix: 35% city, 65% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 15/18/16 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $62,980 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test car: Driver Support Package ($4340), Sport Design Package ($1625)
Price as tested: $69,940
The great: Handsome cabin, assembly quality
The good: Power, ride quality
The not so good: Fuel economy, high load floor, high step-in
In a world gone mad for comfy, easy-driving crossover sport-utility vehicles—especially from the subcompact through midsize classes—Lexus is a relative hardy traditionalist. While it does have unit-body front- and all-wheel-drive SUVs to keep abreast of the modern market, Lexus still lists two body-on-frame offerings with V8 power and four-wheel drive. The LX 570 in the premium-large class is no loner—there are several stout, trucklike SUVs at that end of the spectrum. However, the GX 460 in the premium-midsize field finds itself in a distinct minority.
The GX 460 has its roots in the Toyota 4Runner but is executed to a more luxurious standard. It comes in three trim levels with base, midlevel Premium, and upscale Luxury versions. Consumer Guide® editors drove a GX 460 Luxury that topped out at just shy of $70,000 with options and delivery.
Overall there’s little new for the ’17 GX 460, which has been in its present form for several years. The Luxury model stands out from the other two 460s via standard 2nd-row captains chairs, power operation of 3rd-row seats, cargo-area cover, heated wood- and leather-rimmed steering wheel, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and headlamp washers. The style-driven Sport Design Package added to CG’s tester is a new option for the GX 460 Luxury.
Any 460 comes with a competent 4.6-liter 301-horsepower dohc V8, 6-speed automatic transmission, full-time 4-wheel drive with an electronically locking limited-slip center differential, automatic load leveling, and trailer sway control. Towing capacity ranges as high as 6500 pounds. The test vehicle also came with electronic Crawl Control, which manages throttle and brake action to help maintain a properly slow speed on difficult terrain, but this was part of a $4300 Driver Support Package that Lexus lists as a “special-order” option.
It should be no surprise that a 5100-pound trucklike V8 SUV isn’t a paragon of fuel economy. EPA estimates are a modest 15 mpg in city driving, 18 mpg on the highway, and 16 combined. At least the GX 460 can live up to those expectations. This driver put 663 miles on the test truck, including a round trip between Chicago and Indianapolis, and topped 18 mpg in each of two fill-ups after lots of highway driving. His aggregate figure for the week was 18.4 mpg with 33 percent city-type driving.
On streets and highways the 460 handles moderately well, but is somewhat tippy around corners and isn’t the most nimble thing for targeting parking spaces. Ride quality comes off better. Shock damping is adjustable. “Sport” certainly puts more firmness into the ride but “Comfort” is still great for most day-in, day-out commuting.
When the GX 460 gets to the Luxury level, appointments are extremely nice. Seats are semi-aniline leather and wood accents abound. The 460 is that rare Lexus without the Remote Touch central controller to govern the audio system, navigation, Enform apps, and other things—which is absolutely fine with this reviewer. These functions are manipulated directly on the touchscreen or through buttons and dials on the instrument panel. (There is voice control too.)
Passengers enjoy good leg- and headroom in the first two rows. The same can’t be said for the two thinly padded 3rd-row seats. Cushions are low—requiring knees-up seating with limited legroom—and even average-height adults will find their heads fairly close to the roof. Getting back their isn’t all that easy, either. Tall windows afford fairly unobstructed vision, including to the rear corners. Along with fuel economy and driving ease, more car-like entry and exit has been a selling point for crossover SUVs, and the GX 460 provides a good illustration why. Its step-in is high, though side steps assist entry.
Cabin storage for incidentals starts with a glove box that seems to have all the room in the world for the owner’s manual but little else. Pockets in all four doors incorporate bottle holders. The console box is deep but features a handy sorting tray for small items that would be inconvenient to fumble for in the big bin. The padded cover doubles as an armrest that adjusts fore and aft. Two cup holders and a forward cubby with a power plug and USB port are included in the console; wood-trimmed doors cover both. Second-row passengers can take advantage of pouches on the backs of the front seats and retractable cup holders that pop out of the inboard sides of the cushions of the individual captains chairs.
One of the oddest details of the 460 is its tailgate, which is hinged on the right side. (The rear window can be opened independently.) The space required to fully open the wide door may limit its use in some spaces. There’s not much cargo space when the 50/50-split 3rd-row seats are up, and raising them requires removing the cargo cover—and leaving it behind. When the seats are folded, they create a flat load floor with a good amount of cargo area.
Vehicles engineered like the GX 460 were once the only game in town for SUV buyers. However, crossovers have drastically changed motorists’ buying habits. The 460 may not be obsolete but it has become a niche vehicle.
As an automotive journalist employed by a consumer-oriented organization, I am pre-preprogrammed to dislike the GX 460. It’s bigger, heavier, and thirstier than it needs to be. Saddled with old-school body-on-frame construction, the GX rides higher than most crossovers, and doesn’t feel especially confident when the road gets curvy.
All that said, I rather like the GX. There is an air of decadence to this stout, well-crafted tank that’s hard to come by these days. The interior is handsome in a man-cave sort of way, and the workmanship on par with that seen in the best German luxury vehicles. The drivetrain is smooth and polished, and to my surprise, the fuel economy wasn’t awful.
I had the opportunity to take the GX on a road trip, and found the cabin quiet and the ride butter-smooth at highway speeds.
No one needs a GX, but if you’re looking for a functional car with some serious snow-fording credibility—and you’re cool with the polarizing styling—this old-school rig may work for you. Additionally, if you decide you don’t like the GX, you can always sell it for most of what you paid for it. Few vehicles enjoy better resale value.