2013 Lexus GX 460Posted on March 20th, 2013
Seven-passenger SUV takes adventurers off the grid
By Nina Russin
The GX 460 sits between the full-sized LX and compact RX in Lexus’ sport-utility lineup. Because of its body-on-frame construction and full-time four-wheel drive system, the GX has ride and handling characteristics much closer to the LX.
Although its tall, two-box profile isn’t great for gas mileage, it offers some significant benefits for buyers with active lifestyles. Friends of mine who ride mountain bikes installed a stand-up bike rack in the cargo area that can hold two bicycles. There are very few cargo areas with the vertical clearance to make that possible.
The eight-cylinder engine is slightly smaller than the block on the first-generation model, yet offers better power. Engineers also made Lexus’ kinetic dynamic suspension standard. It decouples the sway bars on extreme uneven trails to maximize wheel travel.
The driver can also change the height of the vehicle using controls on the center console, to maximize ground clearance when driving conditions call for it.
Base price for the premium grade tested is $58,240, excluding the $895 destination charge. Options on the test car include hard drive navigation, a Mark Levinson premium audio system, intuitive park assist, pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, rearview camera, intelligent high beam headlamps, crawl control and a cargo net, bringing the final MSRP to $66,799.
Test drive in Arizona
This week, I drove the GX on highways, surface streets and some rural roads in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The GX offers drivers the luxury ride and performance they have come to expect from Lexus, plus the ability to go off the grid.
While many competitors have moved away from body-on-frame trucks to unibody all-wheel drive cars, the GX remains a good option for buyers who need the additional capability a two-speed transfer case provides. The GX can also tow up to 6500 pounds, far exceeding our ALV 3500 pound minimum.
Although a six-cylinder engine might provide better gas mileage, I think engineers were wise to continue using an eight-cylinder block. Curb weight for the GX is over 5300 pounds. Add a few passengers and some cargo, and it easily becomes a three-ton vehicle.
That’s a lot of mass to move. The 301 horsepower engine has the power to give the GX good acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 7.8 seconds according to the manufacturer. The engine does require premium gasoline: something potential buyers should consider in calculating cost of ownership.
The four-wheel independent suspension provides a nice compliant ride on a variety of road surfaces. Adaptive variable suspension, standard on the test car, enables the driver to vary suspension firmness according to his preferences.
Large vented disc brakes on all four wheels stop the GX in firm, linear fashion.
At night, high-intensity discharge headlamps provide longer beams of light than halogen. Adaptive front lighting swivels the headlamps according to steering input, to illuminate dark intersections. I have found that this feature makes it much easier to see pedestrians waiting to cross in poorly lit suburban areas.
The car’s only Achilles heel is peripheral visibility, due it its high beltline and extremely thick D pillars. The rearview camera eliminates the rear blind spots when the driver is moving in reverse, but it’s a pretty big problem on the highway.
I would strongly recommend the optional front and side camera, which provides wide-angle views to the front and sides of the vehicle. It enables the driver to monitor the wheels on extreme off-road trails, and in stop-and-go traffic, makes it much easier to monitor vehicles to the front and in adjacent lanes.
The Lexus GX seats up to seven passengers, with ample room for adults in the first and second rows. The back seats don’t have a lot of legroom, so they’re best for small children.
Standard keyless access and start enables the driver to enter the car and fire the ignition without removing the key fob from his pocket. When he exits, he can relock the vehicle simply by sliding his hand across the top of the driver’s door handle.
Designers did a very good job of putting all the driver’s controls at his fingertips with minimal clutter. All of the off-road driving controls, including the crawl control settings, height adjustment, two-speed transfer case controls and suspension settings, are in the center console.
An audio system cover keeps the upscale Mark Levinson system hidden.
Tri-zone climate controls ensure that all three rows of passengers are comfortable. Both first and second rows of seating have seat heaters.
The cargo area is modest sized with all three rows of seating in place, but it’s easy to fold the third-row seats flat using power controls near the liftgate. Standard roof rails make it easy to add a rack up top.
The Lexus GX 460 comes with front, side, side curtain and front knee airbags, active front headrests, antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. Smart stop technology overrides the accelerator pedal and stops the vehicle if the driver depresses the accelerator and brake pedals together.
Downhill assist control maintains very low speeds to enhance directional stability on steep grades without the driver applying the brakes. Hill start assist prevents the car from sliding backwards if the driver accelerates from a stop up a steep hill.
Standard Lexus Enform automatically notifies the police and emergency medical personnel if the driver is involved in a serious collision.
The GX 460 is on display at Lexus dealerships nationwide.
Like: The Lexus GX 460 combines the brand’s legendary on-road ride comfort with the ability to traverse extreme off-road trails. The cargo area is tall enough to install a vertical bike rack, and when properly equipped, the GX tows up to 6500 pounds.
Dislike: Poor fuel economy and limited peripheral visibility.
Model: GX 460 Premium
Base price: $58,240
As tested: $66,799
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/highway2013, Luxury Offroad 2013, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Lexus, performance, pricing, standard safety
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