2011 Lexus GX 460 PremiumPosted on June 19th, 2011
Luxury seven-passenger sport-utility vehicle with off-road capability
By Nina RussinThe Lexus GX 460 fills the middle ground between the smaller RX crossover vehicle and full-sized LX 570 sport-utility vehicle. Like the LX, the body-on-frame GX is designed to traverse extreme off-road trails, with an adaptive suspension which can raise the chassis up to increase ground clearance, full-time four-wheel drive with a low gear range, downhill descent and crawl control.
Engineers bucked the trend of going bigger with each successive generation, making the new engine slightly smaller but more efficient than the one it replaces. The new 4.6-liter V-8 produces up to 329 foot-pounds of torque beginning at 3500 rpm.
A six-speed automatic transmission has large overdrive gears to maximize fuel economy on long road trips.
The test car is the premium model, priced from $57,140, not including an $875 destination charge. Standard features include adaptive front lighting, tri-zone climate control, semi-aniline leather upholstery, the air suspension with automatic load leveling and power folding outside mirrors.
A safety option package adds dynamic cruise control with pre-collision assist, lane departure alert and crawl control ($2670). A premium audio package upgrades the standard system to a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound package. It also adds navigation with real-time weather and traffic updates and satellite radio ($3930). A cargo net in back costs $64, bringing the price as tested to $64,679.
Test drive in the MidwestThis week, I drove the GX on a road trip between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, with plenty of time on the hilly surface streets of my hometown in Ohio.
Since the GX is a heavy vehicle which requires premium fuel, my goal on the highway segments of the drive was to conserve fuel. An “eco” light in the gauge cluster coaches the driver. Optional adaptive cruise control automatically adjusts vehicle speed to the cars in front.
Using the adaptive cruise control, I made the trip between Indianapolis and Cincinnati on about a quarter tank of gas. In other words, I met or slightly exceeded the 20 mile-per-gallon EPA highway estimate, without compromising my vehicle speed.
Average fuel economy for the entire 200 mile test drive was 16.4 miles per gallon: slightly poorer than the EPA combined city/highway estimate. We lost fuel economy inside the city of Cincinnati. I attribute this to the predominance of steep hills throughout the metro area.
While a smaller engine might extend gas mileage, it wouldn’t offer the GX enough power to function well on the highway. The new V-8 engine provides 7.8 second zero-to-sixty acceleration. Large vented disc brakes front and back stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
On and off-road safety technologies
New for 2011 is smart stop: the feature automatically cuts engine power when the driver inadvertently steps on the accelerator pedal and brakes at the same time.
Kinetic dynamic suspension is standard on the GX. It decouples the stabilizer bars on uneven trails to increase wheel travel. KDSS gives the GX excellent cornering stability on-road, while keeping wheels on the ground on uneven terrain.
The full-time four-wheel drive system includes an electronically-locking differential. It automatically transfers engine power to the wheels with the best traction, and includes low gears for off-road driving.
Optional crawl control limits vehicle speed, so the driver can focus on steering without having to apply the brakes. Hill descent control keeps vehicle speed at or below five miles-per-hour on steep descents.
Intelligent high-beam headlamps automatically revert to low beams when a vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. Adaptive lighting swivels the headlamps to illuminate corners where pedestrians might be waiting to cross.
Adaptive suspension buffers the rideCincinnati is an old city with a very old infrastructure. A driver would be hard put to go anywhere inside the city limits without encountering some streets in need of patching. The adaptive variable suspension which comes standard on the premium GX does an exceptional job of absorbing bumps in the road to spare the passengers.
The load leveling feature comes in handy when the driver is towing a large trailer, keeping both the truck and trailer safe on steep ascents and descents. The GX 460 tows up to 6500 pounds when equipped with a tow hitch: 3000 pounds more than our ALV standard.
Speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering offers ample assist at low speeds for maneuvering through crowded parking lots. On-center response on the highway is excellent.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I had no problems monitoring traffic in the adjacent lanes while driving on the highway.
Because of its length and width, the GX can be a challenge to drive on inner-city streets. I had to be careful on some two-way side streets: only wide enough for one vehicle of this size. It is also difficult to park on the street, since most spots are designed for much smaller cars.
Overall vehicle height is within limits of the average urban garage. Parking in vertical slots in shopping malls is a non-issue. The rear backup camera on the test car makes it easier to back out of parking spots, since it projects a wide angle image of the area behind the car on the center stack screen.
Versatile interiorThe upscale interior holds up to seven passengers. Interior quiet is excellent, making it easy for passengers to converse or enjoy the Mark Levinson sound system.
Tri-zone climate controls keep passengers comfortable in temperature extremes. Ceiling vents circulate air through the back of the cabin.
Front-row passengers get heated and ventilated seats. I found both the gauges and center stack screen easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions.
The optional navigation system is intuitive to program, by address, point of interest or popular destinations. Real-time weather and traffic information can be a lifesaver, since it alerts the driver about tie-ups in time to reroute.
Second-row seats slide fore and aft to increase legroom for taller passengers. The outboard second-row seats have seat heaters. Since the GX has a virtually flat floor, the middle position has enough legroom for an average-sized adult.
A conversation mirror overhead enables parents to monitor the kids in back. A standard moonroof brings an abundance of ambient light inside the car.
All passengers have ample access to cup and bottle holders, and power points for recharging portable electronic devices. A USB and auxiliary port up front interface with iPods or MP3 players.
Buttons in the cargo area automatically lower the third-row seats to extend the cargo floor. The GX 460 meets our bicycle friendly standards, and is ideal for hauling home improvement goods. We carried several loads of large shipping boxes and packing materials without issue.
The rear gate is hinged to the side rather than the top. It is easier for shorter adults to open and close. A strut keeps the door open while loading in cargo. The rear wiper is concealed in the back spoiler. It keeps the design of the car cleaner and protects the wiper blade from damage.
The Lexus GX 460 comes with front, side, front knee and side curtain airbags, active front headrests, antilock brakes and stability control. Lexus Safety Connect is an on-board telematics system which provides stolen vehicle notification. It also notifies the police and medical personnel in the event of an accident.
The GX 460 is on display at Lexus dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A versatile sport-utility vehicle which is bicycle friendly, meets our ALV towing and off-road standards, and offers a high level of standard safety features.
Dislike: The vehicle’s width and long wheelbase make it difficult to drive on narrow city streets, or to park on the street.
Model: GX 460 Premium
Base price: $57,140
As tested: $64,679
Horsepower: 301 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 329 lbs.-ft. @ 3500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.8 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 15/20 mpg city/highway
One response to “2011 Lexus GX 460 Premium”
Pricing of the vehicle is quite cheap when compared to any other like the BMW X5, road rover sport.
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