Lexus sold 25,945 GXs in 2019 which just goes to show you that with only modest upgrades this old school charmer is still relevant, despite having body-on-frame construction and a solid rear axle. The GX460 borrows it’s DNA from the well-liked Toyota 4Runner and the Toyota Prado, which is sold in other markets. It’s low tech, I mean the turn signals don’t offer a 3 blink option, something almost all new cars have these days.
From the outside it’s solidly square and a tad ungainly but the first thing you really notice is that massive grille, a colleague of mine mentioned it reminded him of Darth Vader, I think you get a chance of being sucked in if you stand too close.
It’s definitely not style over substance though, the GX has a versatility you wouldn’t imagine just by looking at it. Let’s start with the engine, a longitudinally mounted 4.6-liter V-8 with 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive system offers a two-speed, low-range transfer case and a lockable Torsen limited-slip center differential, which pushes 60 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels but move torque back and forth where needed.
It’s not the fastest SUV out there, leave that to the rest, Lexus is looking more for a serene ride through tricky terrain and a near silent waft to the shops for a loaf of bread. Stick you foot in it from a standstill and the hefty GX will reach sixty in 7.2 seconds. That’s adequate but not quick. Once up to highway speeds the big Lexus is solid and will sit all day at high cruising speeds without complaint or noise. The only real complaint from me is, it’s one thirsty beast, I trod lightly for the 6 days I had my 2020 Lexus GX460 tester and still only managed 15.3 mpg, which could get somewhat costly since Premium fuel is advised.
My tester also had the optional Off-Road Package ($1, 570) since it was a Luxury models, and selecting this option gives Crawl Control (low-speed off-road cruise control), a Multi-Terrain Select system for configuring the chassis and drive-train for various surfaces, a multitude of cameras for seeing around the vehicle when off road, a transmission cooler, and a skid plate under the fuel tank. It also offers height adjustable suspension for when the going gets tough and a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System which uses hydraulic rams attached to a very stiff sway bar in order to control body roll and articulation. The system improves on-road handling and reduces body roll. Off-road the system increases articulation and provides increased stability.
Old Mother Grundy truck trail is a 30 minute drive from San Diego and provides a good test of an off road vehicles prowess…..so that’s where we headed. On the way it gave us a chance to test on road behavior as well. The GX fairs well if you select the Sport mode, which adjust the suspension accordingly, this doesn’t make it any faster but you can hustle it around bends at decent speeds and body roll is somewhat controlled. The only time you feel the mass is under breaking, stomp hard and the body dives as you slow down. Despite that the brakes do a good job of hauling the nearly 5,200 lbs to a stop without fuss. Steering is light and vague but this helps when you finally make it off road.
The GX is really very good off road…….and it’s not too shabby on pavement either
Mother Grundy is fairly easy going to start and even offers some potholed pavement in places, until, that is, the ruts start and the GX handled it all superbly, providing a pretty smooth and quiet ride. A few miles in we discover a flooded area, and decided this would be a photo opportunity. We went through slowly at first, staying to the right since the left side looked quite deep. No problem for the GX so we did a couple of runs and turned the new for 2020 Atomic Silver paint to Atomic mud.
I doubt many owners of this car, (our loaded tester was $73 K), would venture out here, most suburban drivers would not be comfortable out there but if Lexus builds it for off road duty, then it has to be tested.
I have to say the interior of the GX470 is a really nice place to spend time. I would probably live in it if I didn’t have a home. The red leather seating reminded me of my Grandma’s sitting room and I especially liked the rocker switches for the all wheel drive options. The materials are all of the finest quality and the extremely comfortable front seats are multi-way power adjustable and both heated and cooled.
The center stack has a dated look and is huge, just like the North face of the Eiger, but I love it. The touch screen infotainment system is slow to respond to inputs, the graphics could be better and some simple functions are buried in on-screen menus. There are no buttons for changing the fan speed for the climate control system instead you have to dig into an on-screen menu.
The GX460 has 3 rows of seats and if you fold those down a very spacious trunk thanks to its square design and the open-sideways rear door is great if you have dogs that like to leap out the minute you open it. This way you can crack it open and stand in the way, they were none too pleased.
My loaded tester had plenty of driver’s aids, pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high-beams all come standard as part of Lexus’ Safety System+ suite. Add the Sport Package (2,020) which includes 19 inch wheels, 2nd row captain’s chairs, a dark gray exhaust tip and front and rear bumper spoilers. Add the Dual screen rear seat entertainment package ($1,985) and the total price including destination was $73,090.
The 2020 Lexus GX470 is certainly enjoyable, very charming and a really nice place to spend time. It’s a dying breed though with its body-on-frame chassis in a world of car based SUVs, but I don’t care, this is my favorite Lexus SUV by far. Sure it’s dynamically flawed but it’s off road abilities are superb and if that’s not what you want then you are missing out on a world of adventure.
2020 Lexus GX460 Numbers
BASE PRICE: $64,265
PRICE AS TESTED: $73,090
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 8-passenger, 4-door SUV
ENGINE: 5.6 liter DOHC 32-valve V-8
POWER: 301 hp @ 5600 rpm
TORQUE: 329 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 7.2 seconds
CURB WEIGHT: 5,198 lb
GROUND CLEARANCE: 8.1 inches (height adjustable)
CARGO VOLUME: 11.6 ft³, 46.7 ft³ and 64.7 ft³ with both rows folded
FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 16/15/19 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 15.3 mpg
PROS: Impressive off road, quiet on road, beautiful interior, smooth and silky ride quality
CONS: Likes fuel a lot
2020 Lexus GX460 Review