Robust GX460 boasts V8, 4-wheel-drive, luxurious interior
This week’s Lexus “tungsten pearl,” silver, GX460 Luxury, certainly fits the bill. This is the top-level luxury version of Toyota’s 4Runner, not the biggest, baddest big-boy ute, but robust to say the least.
Start with the mechanical muscle under its hood, a 4.6-liter V8 with variable valve timing and 301 horsepower. That’s plenty of grunt to push the full-time 4-wheel-drive ute’s 5,179 lbs. up to highway speeds. Naturally linked with a 6-speed automatic tranny the power is delivered smoothly and effectively so getting up to full gallop is easy. All three GX460 models come with the same powertrain.
Steering effort is moderate, so not as heavy as one might predict when you see its girth and know its heft. Actually the GX460 handles well, with little lean in high-speed turns and it’s easy to fit into a grocery parking lot space. In fact, its turning radius is a moderate 38.1 feet, about the same as some compact utes.
While this is a body on frame truck, which sometimes means a bouncier truck ride, Lexus tames even our current asphalt moonscape with the GX460. Coil springs and gas shocks up front and rear air springs and gas shocks absorb anything that comes their way. The ride is well controlled and luxurious and sound deadening material keeps the interior extremely quiet.
This ute comes with full-time 4-wheel drive and you can adjust it for off-road excursions or heavy-duty snow or muck by flipping a toggle on the console. Three other nearby toggles give you other options. One allows you to shift the ride from comfort, which most of us will prefer, to sport, to firm up the ride. Another gives you more traction on steep inclines, mostly intended for extreme off-road conditions, and the other raises and lowers the vehicle’s height, in case you’re fording a stream or mushing through snow piles.
I suspect most folks will keep their $63 grand (the test ute’s price) on road, but certainly there is some rough and tumble capability here, plus an 8.1-inch ground clearance to show you’re serious about roughing it.
Lexus delivers strong braking power too with vented front and rear brakes, plus stability and trailer sway control. If you’re a true sportsman and pulling a boat, or snowmobiling trailer, this one has 6,500 lbs. of towing capacity.
If you prefer a little less power to aid in gas savings and to cut your entry costs, consider the GX460’s kissin’ cousin, the 4Runner. It’s the same basic vehicle from a size and performance standpoint. But the 4Runner features a 270-horse 4.0-liter V6 and is rated 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The 2-wheel drive 4Runner also starts at $33,680 and top-end Limited 4-wheel-drive at $44,260.
By comparison, a base Lexus GX460 lists at $49,999, a Premium model at $53,795 and the tested Luxury model at $60,715.
Inside the Lexus you’ll find little to fault with the stylish interior. It’s comfortable, quiet, well laid out and offers all the goodies and gadgets you’d expect at this price.
The test ute’s interior was black leather, the seats featuring gray stitching and the dash and doors offering small wood inserts and matte silver trim that oozes luxury. Front seats are powered with two memory settings for the driver’s seat, and three heat and cool settings to keep your bum warm or cool, to fit the weather. Second row seats also are heated as is the steering wheel, so you’re well set for comfort.
Those seats are well contoured and comfortable too, with a short enough bottom seat cushion to keep short drivers’ thighs from cramping on a long trip. Head and legroom are good front and rear, plus there are power third row split seats that can be raised pressing buttons inside the tailgate. First remember to remove the cargo cover though. Second row seats also will fold flat manually, but they are mighty heavy to raise once they’re down.
Dash layout is excellent, with easy to view gauges, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel and a large navigation/radio screen in the center stack. Buttons are large and easy to use and the big video screen is helpful for viewing the backup camera. Lexus also includes a blind-spot warning system on the GX460, plus a power sunroof overhead and visors with extenders.
Outside there are wide sturdy running boards to help passengers climb aboard, plus several assist handles, one on the A pillar and two in the back seat area to help second row riders get in and out easily.
About the only major thing I didn’t care for from a design standpoint is the rear-opening tailgate. I’d prefer a proper hatch that swings out of your way overhead as you load. In our climate that can help keep rain and snow off you. The rear-opening gate also is heavy and feels awkward compared to a hatch.
The good news is that there’s a healthy 64.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row seats, so five adults can travel in comfort and also take along a load of gear.
The comfy test ute only added one option, a snazzy 330-watt Mark Levinson premium audio system with 17 speakers. That adds $1,145 to the price and along with a $910 delivery charge put the test vehicle at $62,770.
Worth it? Sure, if you have the cash for the ute, you’ve likely got the cash for the gas.
FAST Stats: 2014 Lexus GX460 Luxury
Hits: Excellent power and ride with quiet, comfortable interior. Running board makes it easy to mount and heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel add to luxury feel. Clean dash with big nav/radio screen, plus comfy seats, power up-down third row seats, rearview camera along with blind-spot warning system.
Misses: Poor gas mileage, heavy second row seat backs when folding down and awkward rear-opening tailgate.
Made in: Japan
Engine: 4.6-liter VVT-i V8, 301 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Weight: 5,179 lbs.
Wheelbase: 109.8 in.
Length: 189.2 in.
Cargo: 64.7 cu.ft. (third row seats down)
Tow: 6,500 lbs.
MPG: 15/20 (EPA)
MPG: 15.47 (tested)
Base Price: $60,715
Dealer’s Price: $56,767
Mark Levinson premium audio (17 speakers, 330 watts, 7.1 channel architecture, auto. sound levelizer, single disc DVD/CD player), $1,145
Test vehicle: $62,770
Sources: Lexus, http://www.kbb.com