- Capable off-road performer
- Plenty of luxury features
- Uncomfortable second-row seats
- Inconvenient side-swinging cargo door
- Poor fuel economy
- Relatively ponderous handling
While Lexus sells plenty of its RX 350 and new NX crossover SUVs, it still keeps a couple of traditional SUVs available as well. The 2015 Lexus GX 460 is one of them, and it carries the old-school SUV torch with sturdy body-on-frame construction, full-time four-wheel drive and a beefy V8 engine under the hood. But whether the GX is right for you will depend a lot on your priorities.
Interestingly, this Lexus is still a pretty well-mannered companion in the city. The suspension is apt at soaking up bumps and broken pavement to give you a comfortable ride. That 301-horsepower V8 is muscular enough to get you in and out of traffic without breaking a sweat. The GX 460 also offers an available adaptive air suspension (to further soften the ride) plus a solid amount of luxury-oriented features.
But unless you're planning on spending a lot of time in the dirt, the fact remains that there are better choices out there for an SUV. Crossovers they might be, but the 2015 Acura MDX, 2015 BMW X5 and 2015 Infiniti QX60 all offer better on-road performance and handling, superior fuel economy and roomier interiors. Of course, the same could be said of Lexus' RX 350, too. The GX 460's most direct rival is the 2015 Land Rover LR4. Like the Lexus, it's capable both on rocky hillsides and paved suburban streets. It's also more spacious than the GX 460 and has a nicer interior, but it feels more unwieldy in the city, especially with a full load aboard. In the end, we believe that the Lexus GX 460 should be on your car shopping radar only if you're truly in need of a luxury SUV that's both city-friendly and trail-ready.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015
For 2015, the Lexus GX 460 expands its standard features list to include Siri Eyes Free, an amenity that allows iPhone users (4S and newer) voice-controlled access to various functions. Also, the available Lexus Enform App Suite has been upgraded to additional smartphone app integration.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2015 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, illuminated 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 premium vinyl upholstery, eight-way power front seats with two-way power lumbar, driver memory settings, cruise control, 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, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen electronics interface and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, Siri Eyes Free, satellite radio, HD radio and two USB inputs with an iPod interface.
There are many optional features on the GX 460, but keep in mind that they can be packaged together differently depending on region. The same GX 460 may not be available in Cleveland and California.
The Premium package includes different 18-inch wheels, LED foglights, automatic wipers, a windshield de-icer, front and rear parking sensors, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated (outboard) second-row seats, tri-zone automatic climate control and a navigation system. Some of those items, most notably navigation, are available separately.
Stepping up to the Luxury model gets you the above equipment plus a special "liquid graphite finish" for those 18-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, rear auto-leveling, headlamp washers, illuminated front scuff plates, auto-dimming side mirrors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert (available separately), a heated steering wheel, mahogany wood trim on the steering wheel and shift knob, upgraded leather upholstery, a cargo cover 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 the Driver Support package, which 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
The 2015 Lexus GX 460 maintains a decidedly traditional look inside and forgoes the more modern widescreen monitor and Remote Touch interface present 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 being somewhat 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. The third-row seats are suitable for children only.
Folding the second- and third-row seats down creates a cargo hold with 64.7 cubic feet of space, which is a bit underwhelming given the GX's bulk. 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 carry long items like surfboards or lumber.
The 2015 Lexus GX 460 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, 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, a longer than average distance for this segment.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2015 Lexus GX 460 has 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 large luxury SUV. EPA-estimated fuel economy is underwhelming, however, at just 17 mpg combined (15 city/20 highway).
For an SUV built on traditional body-on-frame underpinnings, the 2015 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 crossovers feel more confident and sportier 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 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 2015 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.