CHATHAM, Mass. – The 2020 Lexus GX 460 is a rugged, off-road capable sport-utility vehicle (SUV), the genesis of dates to the Korean War when Toyota created a vehicle which would become the fabled Land Cruiser.
Lexus, Toyota’s upscale, luxury brand offers two Land Cruiser-based SUVs. The full-size LX 570 has a 5.7-liter V8 producing 383 horsepower which can propel the nearly 6,000-pound, 200-inch behemoth to 60 miles per hour in just over seven seconds.
We spent a week on road in the other variant, the mid-size GX 460 Luxury, also V8 powered (though a more modest 4.6 liters) and producing 301 horsepower to move its 5,100-pound body-on-frame layout (in traditional SUV fashion) to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.
The engine’s power and torque (329 pounds-feet) enables it to pull up to 6,500 pounds, while 8.1-inches of ground clearance coupled with an approach angle of 21 degrees, departure angle of 23 degrees and breakover angle of 21 degrees means it is capable of real off-roading (not just going up an unpaved driveway).
All this size, weight and power comes with one drawback: low fuel economy. We saw almost 19 miles per gallon during spirited on-road driving which is actually the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s highway rating. The GX is rated at 15 mpg in the city and 16 mpg combined.
This capability comes with all versions of the GX, even the Luxury one we piloted without any outdoor equipment along roads no more challenging than some pitted dirt and gravel stretches.
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The Luxury model brings Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), with rear Adjustable Height Control (AHC) but the ride, though controlled, remains stiff, regardless of it being set to comfort or sport – there is nothing “soft” about the ride in this vehicle beyond the perforated leather-covered seating surfaces.
Brakes and ADAS systems
Four-wheel ventilated-rotor disc brakes (13.3 inches in the front, 12.3 inches in the rear) controlled by a “traditional” anti-lock system (ABS) and multi-terrain ABS (to accommodate the uneven surfaces off-roading might bring), brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution provide sure-footed stopping.
Further aiding the GX driver maintain safe, sure control of the SUV is the Lexus Safety System + comprised of:
– Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection (which not only can alert the driver about an obstacle, but also initiate braking to help avoid a collision or reduce its severity)
– Lane-departure alert including sway (back and forth in and out of the lane) alert
– Dynamic radar cruise control
– Intelligent automatic high-beam
Blind-spot monitoring including rear cross-traffic alert and intuitive parking assist are further advanced driving assist systems (ADAS) part of the GX Luxury package.
Speaking of luxury: this is a Lexus so, without ever “softening” the overall feel of the GX, some pampering of the driver and passengers comes with the territory,
The GX is a three-row mid-size SUV with power controls to raise and lower the third seat. And you are best served keeping the third-row split bench in the lowered position unless you absolutely, positively need to carry two extra passengers. I had difficulty getting my 5-foot, 7-inch average frame into the seat and when there, had my knees in my chest. Comfort reigns throughout the vehicle for the front four; not those banished to the rear.
Our Sport Design package meant the second row, with its tilt/sliding/heated captain’s chairs, comprehensive rear audio/video and climate-control systems was a very pleasant place to spend time.
Up front, driver and passenger sit throne-like on power-adjusted heated and cooled. The room is quiet providing a suitable environment for the optional 17-speaker, 330-Watt Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System.
Controlling the AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite/CD/DVD audio – as well as the ADAS, climate control, Bluetooth phone and navigation – is an eight-inch color touch screen (supplemented by easy to use buttons for many of these systems and voice activation) with large text which makes using it easier than in many other vehicles.
Like most vehicles we get to sample, I can only scratch the surface of all the systems and features included with the Lexus GX 460 – reading the owner’s manual is a must. But, having said that, surprisingly there was one feature absent: no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You can still stream your music from your smartphone (and the car has navigation standard) but accessing any other features of these systems (like audible texting) is a no go.
The price of admission begins at $53,000 for the standard model, $55,790 for a better equipped Premium version and $64,265 for the Luxury one like we had. Options, like the Mark Levinson audio and Sport Design Package (which included 19-inch alloy wheels, various external styling enhancements in addition to the row-two captain’s chairs), helped push the MSRP to $71,240 (which includes $1,025 shipping/handling).
Still, the Lexus GX 460 offers a real competitor to a Range Rover for a luxurious SUV which can really go off road. And it comes with the solid Lexus/Toyota reputation for quality and reliability.