The Lexus GX 460 feels like a dinosaur on the road. Much of its underpinnings are shared with the 4Runner and have been around for more than a decade. The second-generation SUV debuted in 2009 with a new and more powerful engine as well as some revised suspension and equipment pieces, but it still retained the same body-on-frame chassis that the model debuted with way back in 2002. For 2014, Toyota has taken the second-generation machine and slapped a new coat of paint on it with some small visual tweaks and the new family “spindle” grille. Our 2015 model carries on with no major visual changes, but adds some new interior technology to the mix.

With modern crossovers dominating the market, is there room on the sales floor for an old-school, 5,000-pound SUV with legitimate off-road prowess? America’s love affair with the classic SUV has long since died, but after a week with this gigantic bruiser I couldn’t quite figure out why. With a true four-wheel drive system capable of tackling the tough stuff, a solid three-ton tow rating and seating for seven, the Lexus GX ticks off every box on my list.

Continue reading to find out more about the 2015 Lexus GX 460.

  • 2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    6-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    302
  • MPG(Cty):
    15
  • MPG(Hwy):
    20
  • Torque @ RPM:
    329
  • Displacement:
    4.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.8 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph
  • Price:
    60175
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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This new grille has been hit or miss depending on what car it is placed on, and the GX catches the rough side of that scale.

The big news for 2014 was the new nose of the GX 460. With the new spindle grille mounted to the front, the GX fits into the rest of Lexus lineup better, but I wouldn’t say it looks nicer. This new grille has been hit or miss depending on what car it is placed on, and the GX catches the rough side of that scale. Instead of looking sporty or exciting, I think the Lexus GX looks a bit more like the Predator as he screams at Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Once you move away from the schnoz, the rest of the Lexus is handsome in that classic-SUV way. It has large sides that feature imposing cuts and creases around the fenders, there are large running boards integrated into the side and there are nice chrome-trimmed roof rails across the top. The rear glass and all the pillars are darkened to give the appearance of a one large window, and the 18-inch alloys look rather dashing with their darker metal finish.

The rear of the GX 460 is also interesting, but more in how it operates than how it looks. The rear gate is not an upward-swinging unit like nearly every hatchback, minivan and crossover in creation, but rather it is a barn door that swings open from the left. Considering its imposing height, this was likely the smartest choice for Lexus to prevent clearance problems. If you just need quick access to things, a small button near the rear windows allows just the glass to swing upward and open, similar to more classic SUVs from the 90s.

Interior

2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven Interior
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2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven Interior
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2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven High Resolution Interior
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The seats are covered in soft animal hide, the dash has slabs of wood, and there is enough sound insulation to make the Vatican seem as loud as a rock concert.

Inside the GX 460 you are quickly aware of the fact that this car is not only a Lexus, but also several years old. While last year’s refresh brought a new nose and new stereo system to the machine, the interior stayed largely unchanged. It is still very luxurious and well equipped, but the large flat slabs of trim, clunky square buttons and multiple function switches just look outdated compared to the more modern interior designs of Lexus GS, all-new NX and even the Toyota Avalon sedan.

Once you get over the way it looks, everything is up to par for what buyers will expect. The seats are covered in soft animal hide, the dash has slabs of wood, and there is enough sound insulation to make the Vatican seem as loud as a rock concert. When you want to get the GX dirty all of the controls for the various off-road systems are within easy reach.

From a pure ergonomics and comfort point of view, the GX excels. The seats are comfortable, it’s easy to get the seating position just right thanks to large collection motorized adjustments, and all the controls are easy to reach and operate. It may not look very futuristic, but it certainly works well.

The big changes for our 2015 tester is the addition of Siri Eyes-Free Mode and a an upgrade of the Lexus Enform App Suite. Siri Eyes-Free allows for the use of Siri in the car over the Bluetooth system without having to actually touch the phone. If you are an iPhone user with a device that is a 4S or newer, you can hook to Bluetooth, hold down the “call” button on the steering wheel, and Siri will magically come across the car’s speakers. It’s a simple addition but if you have an iPhone it makes a huge difference for your interactions with the car.

Drivetrain

2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven Drivetrain
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The biggest change for the second-generation Lexus GX was the introduction of the new 4.6-liter, V-8 engine. The engine wears the designation 1UR-FE and it is very similar to the unit found in the Lexus LS sedan. The GX version is missing Toyota’s direct-injection system so power is down compared to the LS at 302 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque.

Getting all that power to the wheels is an electronic six-speed automatic transmission and a full-time 4x4 system. Unlike most crossovers with AWD, the Lexus GX has a legitimate four-wheel-drive system with an electronically controlled transfer case, Torsen center differential, and a low-range drive.

During normal driving the system is set to allow 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels with 40 percent headed toward the front. The system can swap that number by 10 percent in either direction depending on road conditions. There is no lateral torque vectoring provided. Among the many off-road focuses systems on the GX 460 you will find Crawl Control, Downhill Assist Control and Active Traction Control.

With a weight of more than 5,000 pounds, an always-active four-wheel drive system and a thirsty V-8, the GX 460 is only rated 15 mpg in the city, 20 mpg highway and 17 combined. I spent most of my time on the highway, but I still only managed to see 18 mpg.

Pricing

2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The price for a base GX 460 is a relatively affordable $49,085. Stepping up to the top-level trim Luxury like ours brings that price up to $60,715. Our only additional option was the upgraded Mark Levinson Premium audio system that comes with 17 speakers. That added an additional $1,145 to the price tag. When you add that in with the $925 destination charge the final price of our tester rings in at $62,785.

Driving Impressions

2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven Exterior
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I went to a friend’s farm and we tracked around in his back acreage looking for suitable cedar trees to fell and use.

From the moment you step into the GX 460 it is obvious that this machine was not created to cater to soccer moms who want a minivan but refuse to buy one. Rather than the awful compromised feeling that almost every crossover has, the GX instantly makes you aware of its old truck bones. It feels giant, heavy almost unwieldy. It is a large hammer on the road that can obliterate anything you wish. It brings to memory all the great things that made America love the SUV. Its massive weight and size make it feel imposing and invulnerable, its body-on-frame design means you can actually tow things – 6,500 pound rating from the factory on this bad boy – and with a real four-wheel-drive system you can actually take it off-road. It’s wonderful. Sure it’s cumbersome in parking lots and it swallows fuel, but it has that special feeling that every crossover is missing.

Things aren’t all rainbows and daisies however. Since the GX is a real truck I was using it as one. For the holidays my wife was making a series of small Santas out of cedar wood, and I needed to get the wood. I went to a friend’s farm and we tracked around in his back acreage looking for suitable cedar trees to fell and use. While the GX performed flawlessly in the mud and the muck of the farm, it did display some shortcomings. Namely the rear cargo area is lacking in cubbies and tie down locations. Regardless of slowly or carefully I was driving, I couldn’t keep the chainsaw from flopping around in the back. Thankfully nothing was damaged, but it did cause me some concern.

The Lexus GX is also awfully slow with just 300 horsepower to cart around 5,500 pounds. A rather high ratio in the differential makes for semi-brisk response off the line, but the 4.6 runs out of steam very quickly. If Lexus ported over the direct injection version from the LS with its 360 horsepower, a lot of these issues would be resolved.

In the end I came away impressed with the Lexus GX. It has a lot of the same comfort and off-road ability as a Range Rover but in a much more affordable package.

Competition

Volkswagen Touareg

2015 - 2016 Volkswagen Touareg High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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If you want a capable machine with a nice interior for a price that won’t break the bank the Touareg is a great machine. For a little less than the price of the GX 460 you can get a Touareg R-Line with the TDI engine. This 3.0-liter, diesel engine is only good for 240 horsepower, but it produces a monster 406 pound-feet of torque at just 2,000 rpm. That makes it feel incredibly quick off the line and it gives it lots of power for towing. Thanks to the fact that it uses diesel, it also gets an impressive 29 mpg rating on the highway. With a huge fuel tank of 26 gallons, you can go more than 700 miles per fill up.

The Touareg doesn’t have a third-row though, so its passenger space is more limited than the Lexus. The Lexus is also a bit more luxurious with its leather and wood choices. The Lexus also has a lot more technology options like a rear-seat DVD option, lane-keep assist, parking assist and more. Currently the VW doesn’t have those features.

While the Touareg is a great machine when the pavement ends, it doesn’t have as much of the heavy-duty equipment that the Lexus comes with. There are a lot of reasons to take the Volkswagen, but there are lot of reasons to love the Lexus as well.

Land Rover Discovery Sport

2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport Exterior
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When it comes to combining luxury and of-road ability together in one package, there is nobody who does it better than Land Rover. With the new Land Rover Discovery Sport, you can get a impressive off-roader that comes with three rows of seating, legendary Land Rover ability and all the leather and technology you can shake a stick at.

With its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine only making 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, the Disco Sport is way down on power and towing compared to the Lexus, but with more than eight inches of ground clearance, and wading depth of nearly two feet, the Discovery Sport can easily handle the dirty stuff as well as the GX.

The Discovery also takes home the prize for pricing. With the most luxurious version of the Discovery Sport starting at just $45,570 it is much cheaper than the Lexus. If there was ever a Land Rover to disrupt this market, the Discovery Sport may be it.

Conclusion

2015 Lexus GX 460 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The 2014 Lexus GX feels ancient and ungainly, but in all the right ways. Its massive weight, high ride and ability to crawl over everything in its way are endearing traits, not problems to be solved. I hate crossovers for the simple fact that they all tend to be so compromised that they have no defining traits; giant boxes of vanilla pudding rolling down the highways. The Lexus GX 460 defies all the modern trends by sticking to the basics and roots of what drove the SUV movement. For that, I love it. There are very few cars sold today that can offer this feeling when driving, and that makes me sad. I still hold that a wagon or a minivan is the better choice for anyone with a family, but damn if I wouldn’t blame them for parking a GX 460 in the driveway.

  • Leave it
    • Needs more power
    • Fuel economy is poor
    • Rear cargo area is smaller than expected and needs more securing points.
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