Behind the Wheel: 2018 Lexus GX 460 Luxury SUV
If you're looking for a luxurious SUV, with very comfortable seating for six (or seven) people and some serious off-road capabilities, the 2018 Lexus GX 460 Luxury just may be the right choice.
October 16, 2018
It’s a rugged, yet luxurious mid-size SUV that comes with Lexus’ legendary build quality and technology. You get a sumptuous leather interior and every piece of driver assistance and safety tech available. Aside from all that comfort, underneath you have the heart of a seriously capable Toyota 4×4 truck.
I took the Lexus GX 460 on an epic road trip up and down California. I started in Los Angeles and first drove about 400 miles north to San Jose. It was all freeway driving and very smooth. After a night at the Fairmont San Jose, we headed out to the hills of Berkeley for a stay at the historic Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel. Finally, we headed to the heart of San Francisco for a stay at the Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square. After an evening gazing out at Alcatraz, we headed home the next day to Los Angeles and then on to Palm Springs.
The GX was great on the long freeway drives, but was filled up with five people and their luggage. Having full-time 4WD was great on the hilly streets of San Francisco, but I think it hurt the gas mileage. The mileage, we averaged only 16 mpg on the trip, is also greatly impacted by the big V8 engine. I don’t mind having a V8, but in the GX it only gives you 301 horsepower, too little for the cost in fuel economy. With the captain’s chairs in the second row, the GX only seats six. We had five people plus luggage for a four-day trip, so it was tight. We used one of the third row seats and the area behind the third row of seats to store everything.
The was the Luxury trim level and it had a beautiful burgundy semi-aniline leather-trimmed interior to match its Claret Mica exterior paint. My test GX also had the optional Sport Design Package ($1,950) which included a lot of exterior styling elements as well as second row captain’s chairs. It also featured the Driver Support Package with Mark Levinson Audio ($4,340) which got you the entire suite of safety and comfort features including Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert and things like Crawl Control (plus the amazing Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio system). It also had the optional dual rear-seat entertainment system ($1,970) with screens behind both front seats. There were HDMI and other inputs and Lexus wireless headphones (a pair) are also included. The overall ride is quiet, smooth and comfortable, regardless of the road surface. It offered a very nice ride for the passengers while maintaining good road feel for the driver.
The GX was a bit weak here, in terms of sporty performance from its 4.6L, 32-valve, DOHC (dual overhead cam) V8 with VVT (variable valve timing). The problem is that big engine only puts out 301 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque, while drinking a gallon of (premium) gas every 16 miles or so. It’s rated at 15 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway, we got about 16 mpg average on our 1,500 mile road trip. I’d love to see a more fuel efficient V8 or Lexus’ buttery smooth, 420 hp twin-turbo V6 as appears in the LS 500 sedan (of the 3.5L V6 in the ES). The overall experience was very comfortable and the SUV handles nicely while offering an elevated SUV driving position.
I didn’t take the GX off road, but underneath it’s a seriously capable Toyota 4X4. It has full-time 4WD with a TORSEN limited-slip center differential with electronic locking. It also has a adaptive variable suspension, a rear air suspension with automatic load leveling and a kinetic dynamic suspension system. My test vehicle had the optional ($654) tow hitch and ball mount. To keep you safe when towing something, there’s ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, VSC and Trailer Sway Control. Towing capacity for that trailer is 6,500 lbs.
If you love Lexus, the GX is a great SUV for you. To me, it’s a bit dated and although the exterior is stylish and modern and the interior is luxurious, it’s a bit bulky and certainly gets poor gas mileage. Inside you do get a lot of space and amenities, that bulky design paying off here in lots of head room and legroom. The GX also brings serious off-road capability to the table, it’s ready to get muddy or snowy or whatever you want to throw at it. The off-road prowess is joined with a 6,500 lb towing capacity.
The GX isn’t cheap, with the Luxury model starting out at $63,530. For my test vehicle, the final price was $73,624. It had the $1,970 rear-seat, dual-screen entertainment system, the $1,950 Sport Design Package (custom wheels, second row captain’s chairs and cool exterior trim upgrades) and the $4,340 Driver Support Package (Mark Levinson audio system, auto braking, lane departure alert, radar cruise control). Also, it had an optional trunk mat, tow hitch and wheel locks, plus the Lexus destination charge brought it up to just under $74K.
Exterior Photos by Freddy Sherman
Interior Photo courtesy of Lexus USA
By Freddy Sherman
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