The GX 460 has only had minor changes since the second generation’s introduction in 2009. The truck-based SUV is long overdue for a complete redesign. It’s apparent from both outside and behind the wheel. We’d skip this SUV unless you plan to use this SUV’s serious off-roading capabilities. Even then, we’d buy a several-year-old used model and save a truckload of cash, since not much has changed in the way of refinement and reliability is Lexus solid.
Luxury and value aren’t exactly synonymous, this is especially the case with the GX 460. The exterior and interior are dated when compared with the competition. The use of a body-on-frame design makes this SUV a dinosaur among modern three-row crossovers.
The one caveat is the exceptional reliability and value retention of the Lexus brand, though this particular model may suffer from a problematic suspension design. Unless you plan on driving off-road regularly, the GX 460 just doesn’t make sense in today’s market.
As we’ve mentioned, the GX 460 features body-on-frame design, otherwise known as a truck-based SUV. As such, this SUV has a particular set of characteristics that differentiate it from unibody competition. Namely, high ground clearance that causes ponderous handling with excessive body motion.
However, this same attribute benefits the GX460 off road. It can handle rough terrain without fuss and can handle abuse routinely. Sure, this is attractive for someone who lives in a remote canyon or the outback.
But let’s face it, most Lexus owners live in the suburbs and a dirt parking lot next to the football stadium is probably about as rough as the terrain gets. Any SUV on the market can handle that and there’s no reason to compromise ease of daily driving for off-road chops you’ll never utilize.
Truck-based SUVs usually excel at towing but the Lexus GX isn’t the best SUV for towing. Some crossovers get close to the GX’s 6,500 lb towing capacity without sacrificing pleasant daily driving dynamics.
The engine isn’t overly impressive either. The 4.6 Liter V8 makes 301 horsepower, a number easily reached by some competing V6 models and unlike those V6s, the V8 gets below average fuel economy at 15 miles per gallon city and 18 miles per gallon highway.
There are also multiple complaints of an unlevel suspension that causes unpleasant alignment and steering difficulties. We can’t recommend the GX 460 as a high-performing SUV.
Inside this SUV, you’ll find a cabin that’s unmistakably Lexus with the familiar brushed aluminum trim and wood accents. Like all Lexuses, the seats are superb! They coddle with comfort and adjust to optimize your seating position.
The third row, not so much, they’re better left to small children and are tough to even access for adults. Fortunately, they fold flat to offer additional cargo capacity. Speaking of cargo capacity, the available 64.7 cubic feet of overall capacity ranks below most compact SUVs, let alone midsize.
The side opening rear liftgate requires a lot of space to open as well. There is a rear window hatch that opens to mitigate this issue somewhat. But those expecting class-leading utility will be disappointed.
The Lexus infotainment system is pretty good, but not the best. It suffers from a confusing interface and intermittent Bluetooth connectivity. The display is also known to freeze from time to time.
The sound system is one of the best around and the optional Mark Levinson Surround System may be one of the best ever installed in a vehicle. The lack of standard leather seating in a vehicle with an MSRP over 50k is inexcusable. The leatherette trim isn’t bad but that’s a lot of money to spend on pleather.
It’s the principle, costs shouldn’t be cut on seating surfaces in a luxury SUV. That said, the premium trim upgrades to real hides for another $5,000 over the base and adds many worthwhile features.
Second-row captain’s chairs are available on this trim for yet more money but are certainly more comfortable than the bench seats and add easier third-row access. Overall, the interior lags behind many SUVs at this price point, we expect better from Lexus.
The Lexus GX 460 features a prominent front end, dressed with an eye-catching grille and intake combination flanked by distinctive LED headlamps. The side profile is more commonplace, as it resembles the 4Runner and Sequoia which share the SUV’s platform.
The rear won’t be confused with either, thanks to euro-spec looking clear LED tail lights and a prominent Lexus badge. Roof rails rise from the roof while running boards run the length of the midsection. Mud flaps behind the rear tires complete the trifecta that reminds you this thing is a truck, not a crossover.
The Lexus GX 460 hasn’t been evaluated by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, we can only assume that such a large truck-based SUV with ten standard airbags and a litany of safety features would perform well in the event of an accident.
Lexus’ safety technology is rated highly by the IIHS in other models, so it’s safe to assume it wouldn’t produce a different outcome in this model. Furthermore, the qualities and characteristics that make the GX 460 a great off-road SUV enhance its performance in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
For example, the full-time four-wheel drive that helps the SUV scale difficult terrain should handle a few feet of snow with ease. The Premium and higher trim levels both receive Lexus Enform Safety Connect telematics which provides 24/7 complimentary roadside assistance and automatic crash notification. This system allows peace of mind during any trying times with the SUV and is one of the reasons we think this a very safe SUV.
The GX 460 receives excellent predicted reliability ratings, a 4 out of 5 from JD Power and a full 5 out of 5 from Consumer Reports despite a few owner reported issues. Some owners had trouble pairing their phones with the infotainment system and some interface glitches with the system.
There are some complaints about the suspension being an inch or so lower on the right. All other issues appear to be minor gripes and not much cause for alarm. Since 2014, there have been just 17 complaints filed with the NHTSA for the Lexus GX 460. Most of them were filed for 2014 models for the aforementioned suspension lean. Some had the right side coils replaced and claim it did not fully resolve the issue.
There’s a Technical Service Bulletin that acknowledges the issue but there may not be a solution to this problem and Lexus claims the ride height disparity falls within the acceptable range. We’d be wary of this issue as it could cause premature wear on the right side brakes, tires, etc.
Be sure to pay close attention to this issue if you’re considering purchasing one of these SUVs, new or used. It’s not entirely clear as to whether the latest year models are still affected, there is a complaint filed for a 2018 model but none for later year models.
However, Lexus SUVs tend to be incredibly reliable and durable when it comes to the powertrain. They hold their value extremely well as a result. Plenty of GX 460s last for over 200,000 miles, uncommon for many SUVs and even less so for luxury brands.
You’re pretty much better off buying nearly any other SUV in the luxury midsize segment. We could break down the various reasons why but suffice to say class-leaders like the Acura MDX and Audi Q7 are superior vehicles in nearly every category, with the exception of off-road ability.
If you’re still considering the GX 460, it’s probably because of this trait. So we’ll offer an alternative with strong off-road skills, the Land Rover Discovery. The Discovery is all new for 2017 and replaces the LR4 in Land Rover’s lineup.
It’s powered by the same 340 horsepower supercharged V6 engine found in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Also available is a turbodiesel powerplant. Both powertrains sip fuel more lightly than the GX 460 while retaining higher tow ratings than the lumbering V8.
The Discovery provides a much more refined interior, with real leather and a quieter cabin. The Discovery is equally capable off-road but may require additional options to match the GX, like paying extra for a locking differential or upgrading the air suspension.
The Discovery is better looking inside and out but doesn’t offer the same level of comfort in the second row as the Lexus. Time will tell which is the more reliable vehicle but we have to give that to the Lexus for now despite its flaws.
If you want a midsize SUV that has off-road ability without driving, well, like a truck, the Discovery is a capable and stylish alternative to the GX.
The Lexus GX starts at $51,855 with a 301 horsepower 4.6 Liter V8 with four cams, four valves per cylinder, and dual variable valve timing with intelligence. The engine makes 329 lb-ft of torque at just 3,500. The chassis features independent double-wishbone suspension with coil springs, gas-pressurized shock absorbers, and stabilizer bar at the front and four-link suspension with coil springs, shock absorbers, and stabilizer bar at the rear. To stop this SUV there are 13.3 inch ventilated front disc brakes and 12.3 inch ventilated rear disc brakes. Around them are 18 by 7.5 inch six spoke alloy wheels with 260/60R18 mud and snow rated tires. The steering system is a power-assisted rack-and-pinion variant that requires three turns, lock to lock. A six-speed sequential shift automatic electronically controlled transmission with intelligence transfers the power from the engine to the full-time four-wheel drive system with TORSEN limited-slip center differential with an electronic differential lock. It’s a seven-passenger SUV that features a body-on-frame design and up to 64.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
On the inside, a Lexus Enform infotainment system is standard, along with a fold-flat third row, SmartAccess with push-button start, NuLuxe interior trim, nine-speaker audio system with HD Radio and Siri Eyes Free. Rear privacy glass, a backup camera, a power moonroof, and running boards are standard on all trims, as are 10-way power adjustable front seats, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40 split second row bench, Trailer Sway Control, Voice Command, Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity, dual zone climate control system, and LED headlamps with daytime running lights. 10 airbags are integrated along with Lexus Enform Safety Connect which will notify emergency services in the event of an accident. A Navigation Package adds Lexus Enform Navigation for $1,530. Blind spot monitoring can be added for $800. Headlamp washers are $100 extra. Intuitive Parking Assist is $500. Heated and ventilated front seats cost an extra $640.
The GX Premium trim level adds Navigation, 18-inch split six-spoke alloy wheels, leather interior trim, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row outboard seats, three-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, windshield wiper de-icer, LED fog lamps, and Intuitive Parking Assist for $56,300. The Sport Design Package with Captain’s Chairs costs $2,060 more than the required Premium Package and provides an exclusive front fascia, different side view mirrors, captain’s chairs, and Gunmetal Metallic 18-inch alloy wheels.
The $63,230 GX Luxury installs Adaptive Variable Suspension, auto-leveling rear air suspension, 18-inch split six-spoke alloy wheels with Liquid Graphite finish, semi-aniline leather interior trim, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, power folding electrochromic outside mirrors, wood and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel, power reclining and power folding third row seats, headlamp washers, and a cargo area tonneau cover. The Sport Design Package with Captain’s Chairs costs $1,950 on this trim. A Mark Levenson 17 speaker, 330-watt premium surround sound audio system can be installed for $1,145. The Driver Support Package has to be special ordered and includes a wide-view front and side monitor system, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, and Crawl Control for $4,340.