By on June 19, 2019

Just because the Lexus GX 460 rarely goes off-road, doesn’t mean it can’t. Despite the fact that most GXs prowl suburban malls, Lexus is still working to bolster its boulder-bashing bonafides.

The 2020 Lexus GX 460 will be available with an Off-Road Package with Multi-Terrain Select. Available on the top-level Luxury Grade model, this package should help with all that off-roading that Lexus owners are apparently known to do. This system combines surface-selectable traction- and stability-control modes with the Panoramic View and Multi-Terrain Monitors, all but negating the need for a spotter when doing some hardcore rock crawling.

Lexus is taking existing developed systems and technologies and incorporating them into the GX platform. 

The Off-Road Package also includes some hardware upgrades in the form of a transmission cooler and fuel tank protector. With standard full-time 4WD, a Torsen center differential that can be manually locked, and low range in the transfer case, the GX is not just pretending to be able to handle the rough stuff. However, I don’t see any correlation between the buyer of a top-end Luxury trim level and that same customer’s desire to take their $65k+ SUV through terrain that would require such capability.

Completing their commitment to provide Lexus Safety System+ on every model, Lexus is including the active safety system on all trim levels as standard. Lexus Safety System+ includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, intelligent high beams and high-speed dynamic radar cruise control.

Now let’s get to the exterior … ahem, enhancements. The press release states “The 2020 GX wears an updated signature spindle grille that gives it distinctive, standout style which better aligns with the entire Lexus portfolio.”

They say that like it’s a good thing, or a reason to do it. I hate to focus more than a couple words on what everyone is already thinking anyway, but the gaping spindle grille is just atrocious. The majority of the front of the vehicle is now covered by one single grille. Furthermore, it’s out of sync with the entire rest of the vehicle, which has been essentially unchanged since its introduction in 2010. Along with the addition of triple-beam LED headlights, Lexus is merely putting fluorescent-colored lipstick on the proverbial pig.

It should be no surprise, though, as this J150 generation of the GX was first introduced to world markets in 2009 and has not seen wholesale updates since then. It still rides on a ladder-frame with a solid rear axle suspension. Eighteen-inch wheels and tires were the only size available until now, as the Sport Design Package will offer 19’s.

The 1UR-FE engine is a suitable powerplant for this application, making 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque, though it’s applying that power through only six forward gears. While I enjoy the driveability of a six-speed, the fuel economy of 15 city/18 highway is far from stellar. It should be noted that these figures all require at least 91 octane fuel, as well. At least the towing capacity is a solid 6,500 lbs.

While a couple of interior trims are added for 2020, there is no escaping the dated interior. The early 2000’s called… They want their infotainment and switchgear back. The GX is just hanging on until a major model change, but the truck platforms are on an extremely long product cycle.

I suppose that I don’t understand the average buyer in the luxury truck-based SUV segment. If the GX rides and drives anything like the Toyota Land Cruiser I drove last year, I can’t see how anyone would leave a dealership in one. Even with the fabled Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, literally all aspects of the ride, steering and handling were notably inferior to the average $50k three-row SUV. On top of that, the rest of the vehicle felt obviously dated; from the infotainment and interior layout to the sound of the door closing.

For someone to spend the $52-$90k that these vehicles demand, they must prioritize the off-road prowess over on-road driving dynamics, fuel economy, and modern style and technology. Is that the same buyer who values “semi-aniline leather [that is] dyed completely through, unlike most leathers with conventional surface dyes” and “a wood and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel, crafted exclusively with hand-selected materials”?

[Images: Lexus]

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30 Comments on “Lexus Adds More Off-Road Capability and More Ugly to 2020 GX 460...”

  • avatar

    “I can’t see how anyone would leave a dealership in one.”

    New guy looking to rile up the GX fans. Anyway, you pretty much answered the question in the rest of your article. It is the last standard V8 off-road & 6000+ towing capable “real” mid-size SUV available. Throw in good resale numbers & sterling statistical durability and it isn’t too difficult of a sell.
    The $52K starting price isn’t even that bad when you look at current asking prices for a mid-level Wrangler Unlimited or a “Hemi” JGC.

    • 0 avatar

      “standard V8 off-road & 6000+ towing capable “real” mid-size SUV”

      LOL – is that a small-enough micro-niche for them to be able to capture the market? So small that even though it’s the last of its type, as you say, they still sell only a tiny number of them.

      Who needs BOF to tow this weight of trailer? A new RWD-based Aviator will tow 6,700, and with 400 hp/400 tq turbo V6 and the 10-speed, will yank that weight trailer around a lot better (and if that ain’t enough, the hybrid one offers 450/600…), and is a vastly better and more up-to-date vehicle to boot…and that’s just the first comparison to occur to me.

    • 0 avatar

      There are a number of mid-size vehicles that can tow 6000lbs and have a V8. None are BOF SUVs though, most manufacturers have moved on to more modern platforms.

      I like the GX for what it is, but like the 4-Runner, it is a flawed everyday vehicle in its current incarnation. The GX takes premium gas, most owners get around 15mpg, and the GX only holds 21 gallons, so you had better like pumping premium gas regularly if you want the GX panache.

      Sure, the 1UR-FE engine may last a while, but that mattered in the 1990s. Nowadays very few manufacturers have any issues with their powerplants lasting well into the 6-digit territory. The durability factor is called the “Toyota halo” for a reason – while it was a big selling point decades ago, it really doesnt have much relevance in today’s market.

      As for the comparison to the Jeeps, well, at $52k, you are getting a GX full of plastic knockout covers and zero modern tech. At $52k, you are getting a JGC Hemi that is fully loaded, fully modernized, and gets 18/21 MPG while milling a V8 that has 100 more HP and torque.

    • 0 avatar

      Even a Pentastar powered Durango has higher towing capacity and I don’t think there is any vehicle in that class that is less attractive.

  • avatar

    We know that the Lexus GX 460 is capable off-road because of it’s Toyota roots, that doesn’t mean anybody will ever take it off-road. This is the perfect SUV to buy used because they’re all like new and last forever

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a shame how the godawful front end refresh, which also ruined the approach angle, showed up just in time for the economy and sales volume to recover. There are hardly any 10-13s out there, and even knowing it’s a Lexus and you’ll get it back it’s hard to pay that much for an 8 year old truck.

  • avatar

    Toyota/Lexus must have hired Emporer Zurg as their styling consultant for the front grills.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota’s CEO ordered the stylists to shake things up — design cars that make onlookers feel uncomfortable. Looks like they did a heck of a job across the various makes and models.

  • avatar

    Couple of observations from the interior dashboard shot –
    1. The driver isn’t going anywhere if the gear selector is still in Park…
    2. Why, oh why, Toyota, do you still believe that shiny, hard, silver plastic = luxury? Yes, other automakers did that…10+ years ago…but, like the Tundra, you still hang onto that shiny hard silver plastic = titanium trim and it just looks so cheap, especially in a $65K vehicle. It’s up there with the fake carbon fiber plastic trim.
    In that price range, I wouldn’t mind seeing some real wood, or at least leather with contrast stitching on parts of the dash, not “plasti-chrome” trim that look like it belongs in a sub-$20K compact.

    …and now let the comments about the hideous front grille resume!

    • 0 avatar

      1. The silver plastic trim on the center stack is hideous.
      2. ….. got to love the marketing photo on an asphalt street just above Downtown LA.
      3. That grill. a little bit off road. CRUNCH – oh boy, I think that was the grill.

      Trophy wives and mid 60 y.o. real estate agents in S. Florida and CA will by these up like no tomorrow. Its like the Tacoma, Toyota has the street cred with the Reliability perception. However, with the garbage GM, JLR, BMW and MB is producing, its not that hard to claim the reliability crown.

    • 0 avatar

      The switchgear on the dash and center stack looks straight out of a 2005 Nissan Altima.

  • avatar

    Interior already looks dated and lacks any form of aesthetically pleasing design.

  • avatar

    Possibly the homeliest vehicle on the market. It might be ugly, but at least it’s outdated and terribly inefficient.

    I’m forever amazed at what people will drop a pile of money on if the badge is correct.

  • avatar

    Having a front license plate mounted mitigates the frontend issues somewhat.

    But now even Audi, king of understated classy design, is doing the Predator jaw. Did Toyota send some of their designers over a la sending Luca Brasi over to the Tattaglia family?

  • avatar

    …I suppose that I don’t understand the average buyer in the luxury truck-based SUV segment. If the GX rides and drives anything like the Toyota Land Cruiser I drove last year, I can’t see how anyone would leave a dealership in one…

    Simple, it has a Lexus logo on it. The end. I would speculate the buyers of these don’t do much cross-shopping. They are spawning salmon, returning to the brand.

  • avatar

    Dang, that’s UGLY. My 2017 RX350’s grille doesn’t bother me because I can’t see it from behind the steering wheel.

  • avatar

    “The GX is just hanging on until a major model change, but the truck platforms are on an extremely long product cycle.”

    In general, it seems like all Toyota platforms are on long product cycles. They seem to wait for a sign from the gods before commencing on a true redesign.

  • avatar

    its almost like a parody of a spindle grille. peak spindle!

    • 0 avatar

      This car has its weak points, but it has its good ones too. If you don’t get it, maybe it’s just not for you.

      The styling, however … for that, I have no explanation. It’s almost like malicious compliance in the styling and branding department.

  • avatar

    Um “modern” style and technology kinda suck.

    Behold the gaping maw, is this somehow tasteful?

    Bring on 2009.

  • avatar

    “The 1UR-FE engine is a suitable powerplant for this application, making 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque, though it’s applying that power through only six forward gears.”

    At least it tows 6,500 lbs? Tell you what – YOU get in this 5,800-lb vehicle and tow 6,500 lbs with only 301 hp and 329 lb/ft of torque, with only 6 ratios in the box.

    They can’t even put their most powerful V8 (which is also a museum piece) into this thing, for that kind of money?

    • 0 avatar

      “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
      The 5.7L 3UR is only a crankshaft (for stroke) and a few ancillary items away, if I recall correctly. The 1UR only exists to have a “smaller” (by displacement, not by physical size) option. At least that’s what I recall from my days when I was setting up the dyno test cells for them.
      Why this thing doesn’t have an 8-speed, I have no idea.

      • 0 avatar

        It doesn’t have an 8-speed because that would require them to spend money rather than pocketing every bit of margin they can on this “mature” platform.

    • 0 avatar

      “Tell you what – YOU get in this 5,800-lb vehicle and tow 6,500 lbs with only 301 hp and 329 lb/ft of torque, with only 6 ratios in the box.”

      I’d worry about stability on the short wheel base a whole lot more than I’d worry about power. 5,200 lbs (not 5,800), 300/330, and a six speed is pretty much a 2009-13 Silverado.

      I towed about that with the 08 that I had, in which GM was still using the same garbage four speed from the early 80s, a couple of times. It did it, not very well, but it did it. A better transmission, which this has, would have taken most of the pain out.

      • 0 avatar

        Fair enough…but I just don’t think anyone else is selling into this class, for this kind of money, with this kind of powertrain.

        The new 2.7T in the new Silverado is making more power than this…and I don’t think that engine, even with a much wider powerband and more ratios in the box and around the same weight, is anyone’s idea of a great tow vehicle.

        This is just more of Toyota phoning it in, as they do up and down the product line…like the weaksauce 3.5 V6 in the Tacoma.

  • avatar
    David Mc Lean

    That poor thing has taken a merciless beating by that guy with the ugly stick.

  • avatar

    This sells because it won’t break, it is capable, it is luxurious enough, it doesn’t break, it can tow your boat if you want, it doesn’t break, it has 3 rows of seats, it doesn’t break, the dealership will treat you like royalty when you take it in for basic service since it won’t require warranty repair, it will have great resale, and it doesn’t break.

    I’m not a big Lexus / Toyota guy. But every time I drive one I “get” why they sell so well and have such loyal buyers. The cars are nice enough and good enough especially if you’re not a car person, and you just really are never going to fight a dealership on warranty, and then if you decide to keep the car 20 years it will keep on running and not cost much for the repairs that do come up.

  • avatar

    If your priority is a luxury “SUV” that drives like a car, get an X5; if it’s to have Apple Car Play, look elsewhere. Comparing this to a Wrangler, Aviator, or your average unibody competitor is a joke for a number of reasons. Most folks don’t get it; this is a Land Cruiser Prado everywhere else in the world.

    Sure our GXs don’t drive, feel, or have the latest technology like competition, but so what? It’s tried and true and will get me there and back no matter where I go. To top it off, they’re meticulously engineered, buttery smooth, very capable (but not athletic) tow rigs, and as solid a brick s#$%thouse.

    This truck will last forever without much effort, and that still means something. Will other modern so-called SUVs last 200k miles? Maybe, but I’ll bet your spending a while lot more over that time period in repairs. No thanks.

    This is the last of a dying breed.

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