October 12, 2016
This week I am reviewing the 2016 Lexus GX 460.
Let me first review the technical side of this Sport Utility. At its heart is a 4.6L V8 32 valve, Dual Overhead Cam Variable Valve Timing engine producing 301 HP and 329 ft/lbs of Torque driving a full time 4WD system with a Torsen Limited Slip Differential with an Electronic Locking Differential feature. This is a true 4-wheel drive body on frame truck based SUV with a 4-wheel Low System for those really tough spots. This is not a car based Crossover and does not need to be driven like one. Lexus has managed to package a luxurious SUV with a true off-road capable truck able to go just about anywhere you want it to take you. I understand that very few will actually ever go off-roading but it is worth noting if the Zombie Apocalypse does arrive you will be safe in the GX.
Exterior styling is a personal choice Lexus has taken a chance on their front end styling with the “Spindle Grille”. The grille design debut in the 2010 CT and was immediately polarizing for most people, it seems either you love it or dislike it but either way it is a Lexus. The buying public seems to love it as the Lexus brand has grown by 42% since 2010. I like to see Toyota/Lexus add a little edge to their very traditional and very stodgy styling, it has really been the one criticism Toyota has endured over the years. My personal take is the grille is growing on me, albeit slowly. There is one item that most owners will have to adjust to and that is the rear hatch or door. To gain access to the cargo area the GX does not have a lift gate like most SUV’s/Crossovers but it has a swing out door. The door is large and heavy with no power assist that has become common on most vehicles today but it functions properly and is something to review before you buy this vehicle. The rest of the exterior is quite boxy and it sits very tall so I always find that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. runs the opposite of most current Crossovers and their teardrop or egg shape, it looks like a truck. One note on my favorite exterior feature, the driver’s door handle. I know what you must be thinking but let me explain. Like most luxury, near luxury or just luxury trimmed vehicles the key is a “Smart System” where one does not have to remove the key or press a button on a remote you just touch a button on the door handle and push the start button to start the car. The Lexus system goes one step farther to open the door you don’t need to push a button you just pull the door handle and it opens, true one touch and I love it.
The interior is where this Lexus shines. All the surfaces one would touch are soft, supple and lined with leather. The interior of my test vehicle is a very light cream color that Lexus calls Eucro. I do have some concern about it staying clean for the long term in addition to the recent phenomenon of “over-dyed” jeans and the color wearing off on the seats. A small price to pay for truly beautiful interior appointments. The leather on the bottom outsides of the seat cushions appear to be a thicker more durable cut that should help minimize the long term wear leather seats experience from sliding in and out of the vehicle. My test vehicle was the mid-grade “Premium” that included the leather trimmed interior with heat and ventilated seats, LED fog lights, 18’ Alloy Wheels, Navigation, 3 Zone Climate Control, Intuitive Park Assist, Rain Sense Wipers and Mahogany Wood Trim. (I do find odd that most Luxury brands have “fake leather” seating surfaces in their base trim packages, Lexus calls it “NuLuxe” but they all seem to do it and I just don’t understand why. I think it must be that the average person could not imagine Lexus or Mercedes having a vehicle without leather seating but they do. The dirty little secret is that you probably won’t find a base trim level on a dealer’s lot in almost any model but it isn’t the dealers fault the manufacturer just doesn’t build them. The manufacturer will advertise the base trim on their website but chances are you won’t find one on a dealer’s lot.)
The front seats are very comfortable and have 10 way adjustments, they are firm and supportive but very comfortable. The vehicle has an integrated 8-inch display that is used for the radio, navigation, climate control system and basic driver information. The system works well and is intuitive without being too complicated. The vehicle also has as a standard feature the Lexus “Enform” safety and security software that is capable of doing a host of things like connecting you to a Lexus Concierge service for emergency services along with help if your vehicle is stolen or if you need Roadside Assistance. The rear seat is upright, firm and comfortable with a reclining feature not seen in all second rows seats. The GX does have a 3rd row but it is for short trips or kids only and it requires lots of flexibility to maneuver on the manual trim level although the Luxury Trim does include a power option for the seat. As you drive and experience the GX on a daily basis you begin to see where Lexus excels. The fit and finish is fantastic exactly what I would expect from Lexus. It is really more than the fit and finish, the more you drive the vehicle and work the switches and buttons the more appreciation I had for the execution. Simple things like how smooth the sunroof window shade opens and closes or the solid feel of the switches to operate the 4wd or windows.
Driving the vehicle in Houston traffic was never a chore even for a large 4wd SUV. The acceleration was smooth and the ride was comfortable. I never felt like I was driving a truck. I felt like I was driving a luxury vehicle that also happened to be a truck. The GX handles freeway expansion joints as quietly as upper level cars and tire noise was kept at a minimum even with beefy Mud & Snow Tires that come as standard equipment. I credit the ride comfort to Lexus’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. The system automatically tunes the front and rear stabilizer bars to adjust for the terrain the GX is rolling over. The system monitors speed, Yaw Control and turning dynamics and adjusts the suspension accordingly for the right ride over every type of road. The cabin is quiet with very little outside noise penetrating the refined interior and interrupting your conversation with your passengers or while on the Bluetooth.
My final thoughts on the 2016 GX 460 are that my wife and I enjoyed the vehicle so much I bought it for her!