2019 Lexus GX 460 — Old school SUV

By Jim Prueter

(April 25, 2019) The 2019 Lexus GX 460 is part of a generation of mid-size SUVs that time has long since passed by. In a flood of lighter, car-based unibody crossover utility vehicles with independent suspensions and luxury sedan-like driving characteristics, the traditional truck-based body-on-frame GX looks, drives, and feels old school when compared to all-new editions of competitors like the Mercedes GLE, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and even its popular stablemate Lexus RX 350.

The current generation GX 460 arrived during the 2010 model year, received a major exterior refreshing in 2014 and only very minor changes since that time, including the 2019 model tested here.

Under the luxury Lexus moniker, the GX is mostly a glitzed-up Toyota 4Runner, complete with its all-steel ladder frame, live rear axle, and full-time four-wheel drive underpinnings, one of the last vehicles built with that setup. Little has changed since it was first introduced some 16 years ago.

 Visually, most notable is the mammoth Lexus signature spindle-shaped grille that arrived five years ago to mixed reviews. Of course, there have been some newly updated safety features along with some newer technology and operational and infotainment items, but little else. Even the rear tailgate still swings open horizontally.

Where the GX 460 really shines of course is its highly capable off road prowess. Powered by a silky-smooth 4.6-liter, 301-hp engine connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel sipping isn’t the GX’s strong suit with our mostly suburban and highway driving returning just 15.4 mpg on premium unleaded gasoline. Those numbers are unimpressive falling well short of competitors.

I spent an afternoon off-roading with the GX at Arizona’s rugged Butcher Jones off-road park, demonstrating its superb capabilities utilizing the limited-slip differential and a two-speed electronic transfer case. Crawl Control, which lets the GX stay between one and four mph when navigating the challenging terrain, is optional. Lexus rates the GX 460’s towing capabilities at 6,500 lbs. It also includes trailer-sway control. The GX proved to be a brute-force tank, handling everything we threw at it, including deeply rutted, boulder-strewn trails, steep inclines and narrow, twisty descents along with miles of deep sand and, twisty dry river beds.

For everyday driving and on your daily commute you’ll experience a plush, comfortable ride in a hushed cabin. Visibility is excellent and handling predictable and confident. However if you’re looking for a vehicle that’s more luxurious we suggest you consider the Lexus RX 350, Mercedes GLE or Audi Q7.

The GX is offered in a choice of Base, Premium and Luxury grades. The Base trim includes18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime-running lights, a moon
roof, keyless access and start, leatherette upholstery, 10-way power front seats, memory settings, USB connectivity, reclining and sliding second-row seats, and dual-zone climate control. An available navigation package tacks on Lexus’ Enform app suite and an on-board navigation system.

Premium trim comes with the Navigation Package plus higher-spec 18-inch wheels, LED fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row outboard seats, and tri-zone climate control.

Our Luxury trim tester came with power-folding and dimming exterior mirrors, headlight washers, adaptive suspension, an auto-leveling rear air suspension, semi-aniline leather upholstery, a wood-and-leather heated steering wheel, and third-row power-folding seats. It also came equipped with the optional $2,340 Driver Support package with a Mark Levinson Audio system, pre-collision system with driver attention monitor, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, intelligent high-beam headlamps, wide-view front and side monitors and the off-road crawl control. An eight-inch touchscreen is standard in all trim levels, with Amazon Alexa, Siri Eyes Free, satellite radio, HD radio and two USB ports.

The interior is pleasantly styled and trimmed with perforated leather and real wood accents. Front seats are comfortable, but like almost every three-row SUV, the second-row seating is adequate for shorter trips, less so the longer you’re sitting there and the third-row legroom is extremely tight and best left for the kiddos.

Most of the vehicle’s operating controls work fine but they look and feel dated. For example, neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto are available, and the screen graphics look dated by modern vehicle standards.

Overall, Lexus GX is an excellent choice for those who frequently travel off road and want to do it in style. On the other hand, those looking for a mid-size SUV with a luxurious, well-appointed interior, the latest advanced technology features like we found in the new Mercedes GLE, improved gas mileage, contemporary styling and other luxurious amenities, you should know that the GX is not that vehicle. You might be better off opting for the Toyota 4Runner and pocket the difference in cost.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $52,255 - $63,755
Price as Tested: $66,920
Engine: 4.6-liter 301-hp V8 connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 15-mpg city – 18-mpg highway – 16-mpg combined
Seating: Up to 7

Crash Test Ratings: The 2019 Lexus GX 460 has not been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Where Built: Aichi, Japan

Competes With:
Audi A7
Audi A8
BMW 5-Series
Land Rover Discovery
Lexus RX 350
Porsche Cayenne

Fab Features
Excellent off-road capability