- Capable off-road performer
- Plenty of standard luxury features
- Uncomfortable second-row seats
- Inconvenient side-swinging cargo door
- Poor fuel economy
If you're searching for an SUV that can be refined and rugged at the same time, Lexus could very well have the answer with its 2014 GX 460. Blessed with just about everything from the Lexus luxury equipment playbook plus proven off-roading hardware, the GX 460 is as adept at providing a smooth, quiet ride to work as it is working its way up a remote mountain road. However, you'll want to give some thought to how much you'll actually use the 2014 Lexus GX 460's off-road capabilities before you choose this traditional midsize luxury SUV over one of the many seven-passenger crossovers in this price range.
On the sophistication side, the Lexus GX 460 boasts a posh seven-passenger interior and a long list of desirable standard features and advanced technology options. Underneath it all is the GX 460's beefy body-on-frame construction, full-time four-wheel drive and optional Crawl Control system. Together, they help the GX make short work of rough trails, though hard-core off-roaders should take note that this Lexus has less ground clearance than the Toyota 4Runner on which it's based and can't go as far off the beaten path as a result. Meanwhile, the GX's 301-horsepower V8 engine delivers a suitable amount of muscle for accelerating in traffic and towing loads of up to 6,500 pounds, and the available adaptive air suspension achieves a nice balance between a comfortable ride and secure handling.
Only a handful of luxury SUVs offer this much dual-use capability. One obvious alternative to the GX 460 is the 2014 Land Rover LR4, which is equally luxurious and capable. The LR4 also has an advantage in interior space, though it can't match the Lexus' reputation for reliability. The bigger question, however, is whether you truly need either of these vehicles' off-road prowess. If the answer is no, then we think you would do well to check out crossover SUV models like the seven-passenger 2014 Acura MDX, 2014 BMW X5 or 2014 Infiniti QX60. In general, these vehicles offer better performance and handling on pavement, improved fuel economy and more spacious interiors for people and cargo.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2014
For 2014, the Lexus GX 460 gets updated exterior styling front and rear that includes new LED headlights and available LED foglights. A new 8-inch touchscreen interface, leatherette (NuLuxe) upholstery and trailer sway control are now standard, and advanced safety features including blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems are now offered as options. Finally, the price tag for the base model has been lowered to make room for a new top-of-the-line Luxury trim level.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 is a seven-passenger luxury SUV offered in two trim levels: base and Luxury.
Standard features on the base model include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED (low-beam) headlights, heated mirrors, running boards, a sunroof, roof rack side rails, rear privacy glass and a rear spoiler. Inside you'll find dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery, 10-way power front seats (with power lumbar), driver memory settings, sliding and reclining 40/20/40-split second-row seats, a 50/50-split third-row seat, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen display and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio and dual iPod/USB inputs.
Optional for the base model is the Premium package that bundles LED foglights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, tri-zone automatic climate control, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated (outboard) second-row seats, a voice-controlled navigation system and Lexus Enform telematics.
Stepping up to the Luxury model gets you the above equipment plus an adaptive suspension with rear auto-leveling, auto-dimming side mirrors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery and power-folding third-row seats.
Options on the Luxury model include a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, a rear-seat video entertainment system, and a Driver Support package that includes the off-road-oriented Crawl Control feature, automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control (includes a pre-collision warning system), a lane departure warning system, additional front and side parking cameras and the Mark Levinson audio system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside, the 2014 Lexus GX 460 maintains a decidedly traditional look and forgoes the more modern widescreen monitor and Remote Touch interface that comes about in other, newer Lexus models. Still, the GX's cabin is attractive and nicely put together. It's hard to find fault with the quality of the soft leather and genuine wood trim that are standard in the top-of-the-line Luxury model, but the switch from leather to leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery in the base model could be seen as a little low-rent for a vehicle in this price range. Front seats are plenty comfortable, but the hard and flat second-row bench is noticeably less so. As expected in a midsize SUV, the third-row seats are suitable for children only.
Gauges and displays are easy to see, especially the new 8-inch multimedia touchscreen that can be segmented into as many as three areas making it possible to, say, keep audio information and the navigation system's map visible at the same time. With the GX 460's long list of standard features and options, the controls might seem a little overwhelming at first, but everything is well-placed and operation is intuitive.
Folding the second- and third-row seats down creates a cargo hold with 64.7 cubic feet of space. Accessing that space can be complicated in curbside loading situations by the swing-out rear door that's hinged on the passenger side. However, the gate includes a convenient, lift-up rear glass window that makes it easier to load lightweight items like shopping bags.
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill descent control, hill start assist, a rearview camera, front- and rear-seat side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and side curtain airbags that cover all three rows. Also standard is Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications with automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator and emergency assist.
There are also a number of optional safety features, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, a lane departure warning system and a frontal collision warning and preparation system (determines if a crash is imminent and automatically tightens the seatbelts and primes the braking system for a quicker response).
In Edmunds brake testing, the GX 460 came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, an average distance for this segment.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Under the hood of the 2014 Lexus GX 460 is a 4.6-liter V8 engine that puts out 301 hp and 329 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a dual-range transfer case. Properly equipped, the GX 460 can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
In Edmunds testing, the GX 460 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, an average time for a luxury SUV. EPA estimated fuel economy is underwhelming, however, at just 17 mpg combined (15 mpg city/20 mpg highway).
For an SUV built on traditional body-on-frame underpinnings, the 2014 Lexus GX 460 delivers a ride quality that's a good bit smoother than you might expect. Handling around turns is secure, and the available adaptive suspension (which can be set in one of three modes from softer to firmer) helps out in this regard. That said, you'll likely find that many luxury crossover SUVs feel sportier and more confident around turns. In the city, the GX 460 also feels subtly more trucklike than most of these crossovers, as its steering and brakes feel a bit slow to respond -- a consequence of Lexus' attempt to tune them for both on- and off-road use.
Leave the pavement behind, though, and the Lexus GX 460's full-time four-wheel drive and available Crawl Control feature could very well make you feel invincible. Select one of Crawl Control's three speed presets and the computer takes over both the accelerator and brake pedal, leaving you to concentrate on steering the vehicle safely through a range of difficult obstacles with a minimum of fuss.
The GX 460's 4.6-liter V8 produces sufficient power for everyday driving, but can feel a little strained when called on to move the vehicle's bulk in situations like highway passing. The transmission is smooth, though it can occasionally be hesitant to downshift.
A traditional midsize SUV with three rows of seating, the 2014 Lexus GX 460 is capable off-road, yet manages to coddle its occupants on pavement. Still, most crossover SUVs offer better on-road performance and passenger comfort.