The Lexus GX sport utility has been around since 2003 when Lexus added the midsize SUV to its lineup. Slotted between the smaller crossover RX and the larger LX platforms, the GX offered plenty of room for seven passengers and loads of rugged abilities that the then up-and-coming crossover segment lacked. A heavy refresh came in 2010 and included the 4.6-liter V-8 to replace the older 4.7-liter, a revised interior, and some slight updating to the exterior. Now for 2014, Lexus has reworked the GX460, giving it the corporate-wide Spindle Grille up front with HID and LED lighting, a reshaped rear bumper, and a new range-topping trim level. Lexus has also subtracted some stuff, namely the pricing. In fact, the base GX460 is roughly $4,700 cheaper than 2013 model. That said, the GX460 isn’t a cheap SUV, thanks to a starting price still touching $50,000.

The GX460 does offer a lot for that scratch, however, and it makes a solid case for itself when considering its heritage and capabilities as a true SUV — and one that can still haul seven people. It’s able to tow a 6,500-pound trailer, engage low range and hit the trails, yet still look at home parked at the county club.

I recently spent a week getting to know the 2014 GX460 with all its quirks and strong suits. The week was spent doing mixed driving, split pretty evenly on highways and city streets. Hauling passengers and hill climbing even happened on a few occasions.

Click past the jump for the full report

  • 2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    301 @ 5500
  • MPG(Cty):
    15
  • MPG(Hwy):
    20
  • Torque @ RPM:
    329 @ 3500
  • Energy:
    Port Fuel Injection
  • Displacement:
    4.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.8 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph
  • Layout:
    Front engine; AWD with Low Range
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

TopSpeed Garage

Exterior

2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Now with that Spindle Grille, the GX looks like it belongs in the Lexus stable.

The GX460’s new looks are a welcomed sight; the shapeless mug of the 2010 to 2013 model year didn’t help the GX win any beauty pageants. Now with that Spindle Grille, the GX looks like it belongs in the Lexus stable. Love it or hate, its looks are subjective. Personally, I like it, but I imagine not everyone is quick to agree. Either way, the new grille does make the SUV appear more aerodynamic and sleek.

Not much has changed around the sides of the beast. It still has large doors that hold large windows. The rearmost side window still features that little kick, giving it some needed visual interest. The running boards help bring the SUV’s visual center of gravity downward, and its line matches up with the front and rear bumpers.

Out back, a new set of reflectors graces the bumper, making it more attractive. The single, chrome-tipped exhaust attractively pokes out from the passenger side. The swinging rear tailgate is a nice touch and is a breeze to use. When opened, it stays put, thanks to a gas strut, and only closes when pushed by hand. No crushed arms or legs when operating on an incline. I do wonder why the gate opens opposite of the curbside. That would make it rather difficult to unload luggage or cargo when parallel parked on the street.

Interior

2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven Interior
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2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven Interior
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2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven High Resolution Interior
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Inside the GX460 is a posh, leather-covered oasis perched high above traffic.

Inside the GX460 is a posh, leather-covered oasis perched high above traffic. The seats are comfy and the extendable center armrest really adds a nice touch. The look and feel is standard Lexus; all materials are of decent quality, though there are more than a few plastic bits scattered about.

Ergonomics are on par with what you’d expect form a large Lexus SUV. Controls are easy to reach and gauges are easy to read. I did take issue with two items, however. I kept hitting my knees on the steering column due to the seating position needed for my short frame to properly and comfortably reach the controls. Power adjustable pedals would likely cure the issue for me. Also, most of the HVAC controls are only accessible through the infotainment screen. Adjusting the fan speed gets particularly annoying and it makes me miss having actual buttons.

Other than those two issues, the cabin was a delight to be in. The tall windows afforded a great view outside and the large side mirrors nearly eliminated any blind spots, but Lexus still includes its Blind Spot Monitoring system anyway. I also really liked the four toggle switches on the center console. They’re responsible for the air suspension, downhill decent control, driving modes, and transfer case settings.

Rear passengers are treated to the same luxuries as the front occupants. The second row has plenty of leg and headroom, and the reclining seatbacks help with long-distance comfort. The 40/60 split bench moves forward and aft to obtain a comfortable arrangement when the third row gets full. With the second row moved forward just a bit, the third row is actually a decent place to sit. Knees are still high and legroom isn’t great, but the kids and `tweens will be just fine. Access to the third row isn’t bad either.

Lay all five rear seats down, and there’s plenty of room for cargo. Trips to IKEA won’t induces worries of fitment issues. The story changes when the third row seats are in use. You’ll be lucky to store an overnight bag in the narrow slot that remains.

Drivetrain

2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven Drivetrain
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The only trouble is the engine feels every bit of its age, making the GX460 wish it were called the GX570.

Powering this behemoth down the road is Toyota’s venerable, 4.6-liter V-8. The only trouble is the engine feels every bit of its age, making the GX460 wish it were called the GX570. The 4.6-liter produces a meager 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque. Pair that with a permanent all-wheel-drive system and a vehicle that weights 5,179 pounds, and the Lexus moves at a leisurely pace.

The story isn’t much better when considering the EPA’s estimated fuel economy for the GX460. It’s rated at 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. During my week with the GX, I averaged 15.3 mpg. I crested 16 mpg once or twice, but I also dipped down into the 13-mpg range as well. Those numbers can almost be expected with such a large and traditional SUV, but in a marketplace crawling with crossovers getting upwards of 25 mpg combined, it’s not a great image builder.

Backing the engine is a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities. A full-time four-wheel-drive system is bolted on next, delivering power to the tires through a Torsen center differential with a rear-biased 40:60 split. Lock the diff and things are split evenly. Hit twisty pavement and the Torsen will create a 30:70 torque split.

Driving Impressions

2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven Interior
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I found Sport mode to work the best for daily driving. The suspension tightens up and body roll is much less apparent.

The Lexus GX460 drove like a large SUV, there’s no denying that. With the air suspension left in Comfort mode, the GX exhibits loads of body roll and experiences plenty of boat-like movements. I found Sport mode to work the best for daily driving. The suspension tightens up and body roll is much less apparent. That said, Comfort mode worked extremely well at isolating the cabin from a washboard dirt road. The different between Sport and Comfort were never more apparent.

Around town, the GX handles alright, never feeling too large or clumsy. The large mirrors help with negotiating traffic and the steering felt nicely weighted. Accelerating was always done with a few seconds of anticipation, knowing the asthmatic V-8 would take a minute to generate speed.

Overall, the GX460 driving experience was positive, though it’s not something to write home about. Long-distance cruising is where the GX feels most at home.

Pricing

2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior
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At nearly $50,000 for a base model, the GX460 is not a cheap thrill. My tester upped the ante even more, coming in the top-tier, and new-for-2014 Luxury trim level. The base price for my GX started at $60,715. The 17-speaker, Mark Levinson audio system was the only added option, costing $1,145. Add to that the $910 destination charge, and the total damage was $62,770.

Competition

2014 Infiniti QX80

2014 Infiniti QX80 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Infiniti QX80 is pound for pound the GX460’s closest competitor. Both vehicles have models called different names floating around the world, both come with V-8 power, both are body-on-frame SUVs, and both offer three rows of seating. Heck, they even look nearly identical in their side profiles.

The QX80 comes powered by the Nissan-sourced, 5.6-liter V-8 found in the Titan truck. In this application, it produces 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. That easily overwhelms the GX460’s 301 horsepower. The QX80 comes with a seven-speed automatic and can be had in both rear-drive and all-wheel-drive iterations.

Pricing for the Infiniti QX80 starts at $62,550 for the RWD version and $65,650 for the AWD option. Of course, selecting higher trim levels and adding options makes the price head north.

2015 Lincoln Navigator

2015 Lincoln Navigator High Resolution Exterior
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Barring the Cadillac Escalade, the new Lincoln Navigator is America’s answer to the three-row luxury SUV market. The Navigator takes on a new appearance, inside and out for 2015, along with a new powerplant under the hood. Once the star player in the luxo-SUV game, the Navigator had fallen out of favor with the buying public, thanks to a stagnate design and a faltering brand image. Nowadays, Ford is working to build back the Lincoln moniker, attempting to restore Lincoln to its former glory.

The Navigator now comes with Ford’s proven 3.5-liter, EcoBoost, V-6 engine. The twin-turbocharged mill produces an impressive 370 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque, while still getting an EPA-estimated 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. A traditional four-wheel-drive system is optional and rear-wheel drive comes standard. A six-speed automatic is standard equipment.

Pricing for the Lincoln starts at $62,475 and rises to $72,900 for the top-line trim.

Conclusion

2014 Lexus GX460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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My week with the GX460 proved to be a good experience. The level of luxury is on par with Lexus and the amount of interior volume is tremendous. Hauling seven people is easy work for this three-row SUV, as well as hitting the wooded trail or heading to the golf course. Besides my complaints about the engine and few quibbles about the interior, the GX makes for a good family-oriented luxury SUV. Buyers better have deep pockets for both the sticker price and gas prices.

If there were one aspect I could change about the GX460, I would throw a diesel under the hood. Imagine what 400+ pound-feet of torque and 25+ mpg could do for this super-sized family hauler. Hey Lexus, you listening?

  • Leave it
    • * Underpowered V-8
    • * Thirsty for premium fuel
    • * A V-6 diesel would make this awesome
    • * A few technological updates away from being fantastic
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