The second generation of the luxury, midsize, seven-passenger Lexus GX sport utility returns for 2016 with a starting price of $50,140 (plus $940 freight) for the base model, and $61,515 for the top-of-the-line Luxury model.
This Lexus SUV got some updates two years ago, which included standard LED headlights and daytime running lights, and optional LED fog lights (included on Luxury models and those with the Premium package), along with a new rear fascia and taillights.
A Premium Package ($4,445), available for the base GX, adds leather seats, mahogany wood interior trim, rain-sensing wipers with windshield de-icer, 18-inch split-spoke alloy wheels, the LED fog lights, intuitive parking assist, heated/ventilated front bucket seats, heated outboard second-row seats, three-zone automatic climate control, touch-screen navigation with voice control, and the Lexus Enform telematics/connectivity system with app suite and destination assist (includes one year free subscription).
The GX 460 mostly carries over unchanged from 2015, except that for 2016, GX buyers can get the new Lexus Enform Service Connect, with a one-year trial subscription. It allows owners to have remote access to information about the vehicle through the MyLexusandBeyond mobile application for iOS smartphone users, or at LexusDrivers.com.
The available information includes maintenance alerts, warning-light notifications, and vehicle health reports that include email and push notifications for diagnostic information, required maintenance reminders, current vehicle alerts, service campaigns, and more.
Also available is Lexus Enform Remote, with a one-year trial subscription, which allows the owner to remotely view and control certain vehicle features using a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. Key features include remote door lock/unlock; remote stop/start for the engine and climate control; vehicle finder, guest driver monitor and more.
On all models, there’s a standard audio system with eight-inch touch-screen display, backup camera system, and HD radio with real-time traffic and weather information. Trailer sway control has been added, and there’s also a new, optional Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, an important safety feature for an SUV.
Our Luxury tester, though, came with the optional Mark Levinson Premium Audio ($1,145), the only extra. Otherwise, the Luxury model already comes with just about everything you can get on the GX.
Previously known as the GX 470, since 2010 the vehicle has been called the GX 460, reflecting a change for the second generation to a new 4.6-liter V-8 engine, replacing the previous 4.7-liter.
Among Lexus vehicles, this is one of my two favorites. The other is the slightly more expensive LX 570. The GX essentially is a fancier version of the Toyota 4Runner, while the LX is a higher-end version of the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is one of my favorite vehicles of all time. While I’ve never owned either of these Lexus SUVs, I am a current owner of a four-wheel-drive 4Runner, and past owner of a Land Cruiser.
The current 4Runner no longer offers a V-8 engine – it comes only with a 4.0-liter V-6 – so the GX 460 gives a V-8 option to 4Runner fans, along with more luxury. That allows for more towing capacity as well – the GX460 can pull trailers weighing up to 6,500 pounds, versus 4,700 pounds for the 4Runner.
With the base GX 460, you get NuLuxe (faux leather) trim with natural grain and Linear Espresso Wood/Abyss Black trim. Headlight washers are optional except on the Luxury model, where they are included.
Both the GX and 4Runner are built on the same architecture, but on the GX, fulltime four-wheel drive is standard. And for fans of off-road driving, the system is a true four-wheel drive, with low-range gearing available through a toggle-switch-activated transfer case for serious trail driving.
Awesome off-road capability has always been one of the hallmarks of four-wheel-drive equipped 4Runners and the GX, and the current GX 460 also includes some of the great innovative trail-driving features of the LX 570.
Even as unibody crossover utility vehicles continue to take over from traditional SUVs pretty much across the industry, these vehicles continue as body-on-frame, truck-style SUVs.
In the Lexus lineup, the GX fits between the RX 350 crossover and the LX SUV. The RX 350 is based on the architecture of the Toyota Highlander crossover, although the RX has room for just five people, while the Highlander is able to handle up to seven.
Under the hood of the GX is a 4.6-liter V-8 that is more powerful and more efficient than the 4.7-liter V-8 it replaced. It’s rated at 301 horsepower and 329 foot-pounds of torque, compared with 263 horsepower and 323 foot-pounds of torque for the previous model’s 4.7-liter engine.
We had plenty of power, even on roads in the Great Smoky Mountains that we experienced during our test of the GX 460. We did not try towing a trailer, however.
EPA ratings for the GX 460 are 15 mpg city/20 highway/17 combined, using the six-speed automatic transmission that is standard. During our test, we averaged about 17.3 mpg with mostly highway and country-road driving.
There is no driver input needed for normal driving in four-wheel drive; but the driver can lock it into four-wheel-drive high or low range as conditions warrant. There is a Torsen limited-slip center differential with electronic lock.
Also included is the “advanced Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System,“ which is designed to “provide both exceptional on-road ride and handling and true off-road capability,” Lexus says.
GX has room for three passengers in the middle row and two (smallish) people in the third row. The second-row seat can be moved up to 4.1 inches forward or backward to allow for longer or shorter legs in either row, or to maximize cargo space behind the second seat (with the third seat folded).
The 60/40 split second-row seat can be folded, as well, to increase cargo space, and it also can recline. The third seat has a standard power folding feature to increase cargo capacity with the seat isn’t needed for passengers – otherwise, space is quite limited behind the third row – under 10 cubic feet.
On the GX, the tailgate opens to the right side in one piece, or the glass can be flipped up separately with the rest of the tailgate still in place.
The GX is very quiet at highway speeds, allowing the passengers to enjoy the great entertainment system or conduct conversations in normal voices. The vehicle comes with an electronically adjustable suspension with three modes -- normal, sport and comfort. Standard are 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/60 R18 tires.
Crawl Control, designed for slow off-road driving over rugged terrain, automatically modulates the throttle and brake, allowing the driver to concentrate on steering, and can help free the vehicle from sand, mud or snow, Toyota says.
Both Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control also are provided on the GX 460, both designed for off-road driving.
Standard safety features include electronic stability control; antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; and 10 air bags, including driver and front-passenger knee and seat-mounted side air bags, as well roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for all three rows.
Among other standard GX 460 features are eight-way power-adjustable front seats; automatic climate control; steering wheel audio controls; power moon roof; a wood-and-leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; a memory system for the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirrors; and an overhead console with universal garage opener.
With freight and the premium audio add-on, my GX460 Luxury model had a total sticker price of $63,600.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com.
2016 Lexus GX 460
The package: Midsize, five-door, V-8 powered, fulltime four-wheel-drive, seven-passenger luxury sport utility vehicle.
Highlights: The second generation of the Lexus truck-based midsize sport utility vehicle arrived for 2010, and it received some design tweaks and upgrades for 2014, including a new spindle grille. This vehicle offers truck ruggedness and reliability in a package that combines great off-road capability with good on-road ride and handling.
Negatives: Third seat is not roomy enough for full-size adults
Engine: 4.6-liter V-8.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 301 HP./329 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain for all three rows.
Overall length: 192.1 inches.
Curb weight: 5,305-5,340 pounds.
Cargo volume: 9.0 cubic feet (behind third seat); 47.2 cubic feet (third seat folded).
Towing capacity: 6,500 pounds.
Major competitors: Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, Infiniti QX70, Infiniti QX80, Ford Explorer, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GL 450, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Touareg.
Fuel capacity/type: 23 gallons/unleaded premium.
EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city/20 highway.
Base price range: $50,140-$61,515, plus $940 freight.
Price as tested: $63,600, including freight and options (Luxury model with Mark Levinson audio).
On the Road rating: 9.5 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.