Lexus GX:
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It may be an aged design, but the Lexus GX 460 possess off-road chops.

 


Toyota builds several modern and forward-thinking models, but the Lexus GX 460 is not one of them. Indeed, this midsize traditional body-on-frame utility vehicle features an aged design, which is undergirded by the same platform supporting the Toyota 4Runner.

The Lexus has a modern look, which does its best to match this marque’s persona. Underneath, its powertrain is old and inefficient, although we give it props for its off-road prowess. Here’s what we find are its good, bad, and ugly attributes.


The Good


1. Who doesn’t love a traditional SUV?

Well, we must admit that many people these days are looking for a modern model, particularly a crossover with unibody construction. Those vehicles have rigid bodies, great steering, and a smooth ride. The GX 460 boasts none of these. Instead, it delivers capable approach and departure angles, although we must admit our frustration of not knowing precisely what these measurements are. We do know that ground clearance measures 8.3 inches, which is about average for the segment.

2. We also like that the Lexus GX has full-time four-wheel drive.

Why mess with two-wheel drive when this vehicle’s main strength is its off-road capabilities? You’ll also find active traction control for wet pavement and crawl control available with the off-road package on the top-trim Luxury model.

3. Who doesn’t like captain’s chairs?

This Lexus offers them in the second row and with each one heated. We think they’re almost as good as the seats up front. Almost, but not quite. Other touches we like include the imitation leather seats, which should hold up better than the standard hides. On the upper trims, semi-aniline leather is included or available.


The Bad


1. As far as engines go, the 4.6-liter V8 powering the GX sees like a throwback to another era.

Specifically, it puts out just 301 horsepower, which is the same as Toyota’s 3.5-liter V6 engine. Torque output measures 329 pound-feet, giving just a bit more power for passing and pulling. In other words, the GX starts slow out of the gate and offers leisurely passing performance. We might also take issue with its six-speed automatic transmission, which seems absent several cogs in an era where 8-, 9-, and 10-speed transmissions dominate.

2. Is it good, bad or is it ugly?

We’ll put the GX’s side-swinging rear door the bad category, at least for southpaws as the door swings to the right. In any case, the door’s swing can become an issue when parallel parking or wherever space is tight. Obviously, there is no power-open option as you get with a liftgate.

3. Technology is a mixed bag.

On the one hand, you get Siri Eyes Free. On the other hand, you won’t find smartphone compatibility as neither Apple CarPlay nor Google Android Auto is offered. How sad is that? If you want navigation, you’ll have to pay for it or make the trim upgrade to find it.


The Ugly


1. Perhaps the GX’s greatest weakness is with its fuel economy.

With an EPA rating of 15 mpg city 20 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined, it is one thirsty vehicle. Even then, we doubt you’ll meet the EPA expectations, especially once you venture off-road. Oh, did we mention you must use premium fuel too? That’ll add to your fuel costs.

2. Another area where the GX performs poorly is in all things safety.

Unlike other Lexus models with standard active safety technology, the GX does not have some of these features. What you will find is standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. If you want lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control, you’ll find it within a package on the top-level GX Luxury trim. Full-speed automatic emergency braking is not available, however.


The Verdict


The 2020 GX is the budget-friendly Lexus off-roader with a starting price some $30,000 below that of the top-of-the-line Land Cruiser-based LX. In addition, it is much more than a dressed-up Toyota 4Runner with its own powertrain and luxury embellishments to show for it. However, it is clearly an aged model in a segment that’s gone full modern. That said, its off-road strength beats most competitors, with perhaps the Land Rover Discovery giving it the best run for the money.


2020 Lexus GX Specifications


Lexus 2020 GX
Segment Full-size SUV
Price Range $53,000 to $64,265
Destination Charge $1,025
Standard Engine 4.6-liter, V8
Horsepower 301 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 329 lb.-ft. @ 3,500rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Seating 7
Curb Weight (pounds) 5,130 to 5,198
Wheelbase (inches) 109.8
Length (inches) 192.1
Width (inches) 74.2
Height (inches) 74.2
Headroom (f,r…inches) 38.0, 40.4, 35.2
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.7, 34.1, 29.3
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 55.4, 57.3, 54.5
Hip room (f,r…inches) 56.5, 55.2, 43.1
Storage (cubic feet) 64.7
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) 6,600
Towing (pounds) 6,500
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel premium
Fuel Tank (gallons) 23.0
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 15/20/17
Manufacturing Plant Tahara, Japan

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications and photo supplied by the manufacturer.


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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.