2016 Lexus GX460

A DriveWays Review...

Photo (c) Lexus

In the great East Coast Winter Storm Jonas of January, 2016, a minority of motorists were fortunate enough to be driving a vehicle like the 2016 Lexus GX460.

Too bad, because this is exactly the sort of vehicle everyone would want in the foulest of weather. It’s big, powerful and brutish with full-time four-wheel drive, fat tires on 19-inch wheels and more than eight inches of ground clearance.

Ever since it materialized in 1989 as the first luxury brand from Japan’s Toyota, Lexus has cultivated a personality of genteel extravagance and, more recently, rip-roaring performance with its new super car, the LC 500, a V8 coupe unveiled at the North American International Automobile Show in Detroit.

But Lexus also has soldiered on with rugged sport utility vehicles like the GX460 and its somewhat bigger LX570. Where other manufacturers have moved increasingly toward car-based unit body SUVs, now widely know as crossovers, Lexus has stuck with a truck-based body on frame design, although its smaller RX and NX are car-based crossovers.

Since it first appeared in 2002, the GX has changed little—immediately recognized by its boxy, tall and narrow appearance going and coming.

It is only in its second generation but has accrued 273,604 sales over14 years, with its best year of 35,420 coming in 2004. In recent years it slipped some as increasing newcomer SUVs and crossovers found favor with buyers. But it recovered with sales of 25,212 in 2015.

Throughout, despite its utilitarian orientation, Lexus also has infused the GX460 with the tasteful interior luxury that characterizes its sedans. That’s particularly true of the GX460 Luxury model tested for this review.

The interior features perforated leather upholstery with heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, leather and wood trim, a mahogany and leather steering wheel, a big motorized glass sunroof and, most of all, quality workmanship.

There’s a big touch screen for the navigation and audio systems, and a set of toggle switches on the console to control ride height, sport or comfort ride, and low and high ranges for the all-wheel drive.

There are also power folding outside mirrors, windshield de-icer, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors and a garage door opener.

More than full safety equipment includes automatic collision warning, brake force distribution, brake assist and trailer sway mitigation. The GX460 can tow up to 6,500 pounds.

Unfortunately, with a base price of $62,455 and a delivered price of $68,765 with options, this is not a vehicle for the masses. Fortunately, Toyota also sells the truck-based 4Runner, which is built off the same platform as the GX460. It’s Spartan compared to the GX460 but has a starting price of $39,995 for the Premium version.

The GX460 is a seven-passenger SUV, though it’s more useful and comfortable as a five passenger vehicle. There are two vestigial third row seats that can accommodate munchkins and small children. They are power operated so it’s easy to raise them from the cargo floor, although you must first detach a heavy and clunky cargo cover and stash it somewhere.

The downside of using the third row is that it takes up all but a small sliver of cargo space, so if you plan on transporting seven people you’d better figure on carrying the luggage on the roof. Lexus lists the cargo space behind the third row at an optimistic 12 cubic feet.

But if you fold both the second and third rows it expands to 65 cubic feet.

On earlier GX460 models, the third row seats folded up to the sides of the interior, which provided a bit more cargo space than the current power folding seats. Depending on your preferences, you might like or dislike the rear door, which swings open from the left side instead of raising up like typical SUV hatchback.

On the road, the GX460 combines decent handling with a good ride, thanks mainly to a suspension system that adapts to street and highway surfaces, and a rear air suspension with automatic load leveling.

The mighty 301-hp, 4.6-liter V8 engine with 329 lb-ft of torque means you never feel shortchanged. The power is delivered to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly with no hiccups.

Overall, no matter what the outside conditions, the GX460 is every bit a Lexus. Passengers ride in a cocoon of capability and relaxed comfort with little intrusion of unwanted noise—just the thing for tooling along in a snowstorm.

Specifications

  • Model: 2016 Lexus GX460 Luxury four door sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 4.6-liter V8, 301 hp, 329 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with full-time four wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 129/12 cubic feet (max 65)
  • Weight: 5,199 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 6,500 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 15/20/17 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $62,455.
  • Price as tested: $68,765.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. For more information, see our .