2018 Lexus GX460 Review - Invisibility Cloak With Off-road Chops

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2018 Lexus GX460

4.6-liter V8, DOHC (301 hp @ 5500 rpm, 329 lb-ft. @ 3500 rpm)
Six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
15 city / 18 highway / 16 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
16.0 city / 12.9 highway / 14.6 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
18.7 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $52,850 US / $76,606 CAD
As Tested: $54,380 US / $76,606 CAD
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2206 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2018 lexus gx460 review invisibility cloak with off road chops

When the good folks who bring me cars for review each week mentioned that a Lexus GX460 would be coming to my door, I honestly forgot what the GX was. That’s the curse of a alphanumeric model naming scheme — unless the car itself is iconic, with decades of enthusiast love behind it, it’s hard to develop a connection to a few letters and numbers.

It’s not exactly invisible in the showroom, however — it’s big, and it’s been selling for years with little change. It’s hard to miss, though it lives in the shadow of both the ubiquitous RX and the iconic big-brother LX.

While not perfect, the Lexus GX460 has the versatility to haul the family and a boat either across the country or through the woods in total comfort.

Yeah, it’s old. The GX460 has soldiered on with few substantive changes since 2010, and it keeps selling. Indeed, since 2010, it’s averaged just under 20,000 units per year, and since 2014 has been trending generally upward in sales.

I’m surprised at how good this is to drive. It’s no sports car, but the exterior dimensions are compact enough that placing it precisely in city traffic is better than most large SUVs. Further, the GX460 is magnificent on the highway. I did 10 hours in a single stretch, stopping only to fuel myself and the thirsty V8, and got home ready to drive more. There are few other vehicles I’d rather sit in all day.

Oddly, the brake pedal feels a bit spongy — this is something I noticed in the mechanically similar 4Runner in the past, so it may be inherent to Toyota SUVs. Power from the 301 hp V8 is adequate, though I’d imagine a trailer close to the 6,500 lb limit would tax on-ramp acceleration.

It’s a pain in the ass to adjust fan speed or other HVAC controls, as you have to access the climate menu on the central touchscreen. The only functions available through hard buttons on the dash — auto climate control, recirc, defrost, defog, and temperature. Can’t control fan speed or fan location (face, feet, combo) save for the touch screen. The touchscreen audio system is functional, but slow to respond to touch inputs. It’s quite similar to systems fitted to lower-end Toyotas, while more recently-updated Lexus models have seen a significant improvement in usability. Audio quality is fine — higher trims get the option of a Mark Levinson-branded audio upgrade, but this Ace of Base GX doesn’t get that choice.

Passengers in both the second and third row were happy with leg, shoulder, and headroom — though I wouldn’t put anyone taller than my 5’4” daughter in the third row if they value their knees. The best endorsement I can give for the seats in the GX? Everyone (save the driver, natch) fell asleep within an hour of commencing the road trip. No fights over music (when dad drives, dad chooses the tunes), no arguments over where to stop for a meal. Just snoring. Bliss.

Cargo space is slim when the third row is erect, unfortunately. Only the slimmest of laptop bags or purses can fit between that seatback and the side-hinged door. That’s another peeve, certainly — a top-hinged hatch would be preferable, or at least a hinge on the left-side of the door rather than the right. As is, loading the cargo area while parked on the curb is inconvenient, as that tailgate blocks access. It’s obviously a remnant of the home market, where a right side hinge makes sense.

The 2018 Lexus GX460 is a throwback, to be certain. It’s an old-school, body-on-frame SUV without a ton of super-premium luxury features. But it drives and rides like a dream, and you won’t see one every time you pull into the supermarket.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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