Serious off-road ability, supreme on-road comfort, composed handling.
Smallish maximum cargo capacity, flat rear seats, unimpressive V8 power.
Take a glance at any online dating site and you'll likely see ads from people eager to let you know they can do it all with ease. The men will proudly state, "I'm as comfortable in a suit as I am in jeans and a T-shirt" while the ladies will likewise boast, "I'm as comfortable in an evening gown as I am in sweats and a ponytail." Well, if the 2010 Lexus GX 460 were looking for a companion, it could brag about having a similarly well-rounded nature.
The GX 460 is the little brother of Lexus' superb full-size LX 570. Like the LX, the midsize GX 460 is a luxury SUV that has the ability to mimic an LS 460 or Toyota FJ Cruiser, depending on what the owner wants at any given moment. In fact, the GX shares its rugged chassis components with the FJ Cruiser and the related Toyota 4Runner. However, it also offers V8 power, three rows of seating and traditional Lexus levels of luxury and refinement.
Yes, there are plenty of other luxury midsize SUVs. But most of them are car-based crossovers, not burly, truck-based (body-on-frame) rigs. The 2010 Lexus GX 460 is in the latter group, so it can tackle terrain that would make most crossovers run to the safety of the mall's parking lot, yet it still manages to provide a smooth, refined ride on blacktop.
The GX 460's most formidable rival is the new Land Rover LR4, which offers a lower starting price and similarly ensconces its occupants in luxury while being able to transport them to Hell (Michigan) — don't laugh, it's a popular place with fishermen and mountain bikers — and back. It also features considerably more power and a more adult-friendly third row.
But Lexus sports a strong reliability record, whereas Land Rover has historically been spotty in that regard. The GX 460 also beats the LR4 by an estimated 3 mpg in combined fuel economy. If we were just dating (or should we say leasing), the LR4 might get the nod. But for a long-term relationship, we'd lean toward the GX 460.
The 2010 Lexus GX 460 is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 rated at 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque — 38 more hp and 6 more lb-ft of torque than the outgoing GX 470's 4.7-liter unit. The extra power is welcome, as the new GX has gained a healthy 500 pounds. The new six-speed automatic (replacing the old GX's five-speed) clicks through the gears nearly imperceptibly and responds quickly to heavy feet.
Lexus claims a 7.8-second 0-60-mph time, which is a bit laggardly for this segment, but our real-world take is that the GX gets off the mark and around town with respectable gusto. Preliminary fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined.
Feeling our oats, we took the GX 460 to horse country, where we switched the standard full-time 4WD system into Low and tried out the optional Crawl Control and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS). At the bottom of a steep hill, we activated Crawl Control, and then it was feet off the pedals as the GX 460 clambered up the hill and then down the other side, diligently maintaining 2 mph (the driver can select from speeds between 1 and 3.7 mph). All we had to do was steer. KDSS did its thing, too, automatically disconnecting the front and rear stabilizer bars to soak up bumps and ruts worthy of an otherworldly movie set.
On paved roads, the GX 460's steering is light but precise, and the brakes likewise have a light touch, yet bite well when you lean into them. Through the turns, the GX remains confidently planted, with no wallowing or top-heaviness to speak of. Surprisingly, the GX never feels heavy or cumbersome, which is a definite plus in a vehicle destined for suburban two-lanes and country club parking lots.
Front passengers in the 2010 Lexus GX 460 should have no complaints. Plush, well shaped and widely adjustable, the front seats are plenty comfortable on the interstate slog and supportive on uneven terrain. The power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel helps drivers of all sizes find an agreeable position.
The second-row seats are rather flat, but there is generous room for two adults, and a third can fit in the middle in a pinch. Out back, the standard power third-row seats can accommodate a pair of smaller adults or a couple of kids.
Over the bumps, the GX provides a supple ride that belies its trucklike underpinnings, and highway cruising is as relaxed as the lack of wind and road noise is impressive, especially for this type of vehicle. Despite its bulky looks, this SUV is fairly aerodynamic, sporting a carlike 0.35 coefficient of drag. The V8's smooth demeanor and the general lack of noise can be deceiving; cruising down the freeway on our test route, we had little indication that we were traveling at elevated speeds.
As you'd expect, there are a lot of luxury features in the GX's cabin and hence a lot of buttons and switches. Audio and climate controls are a mix of hard buttons and touchscreen controls. However, most frequently used functions are accessed via simple buttons on the steering wheel or center stack. A standard rearview camera takes the anxiety out of parking the GX on crowded city streets and in parking lots.
The standard power-folding third-row bench is a great convenience, but its associated motors and hardware eat up a lot of potential cargo space. Consider that the outgoing GX 470 is about the same length as the new GX, yet provides 78 cubic feet of maximum cargo versus the new one's relatively meager 64.7 cubes. That's also 25 cubes less than the LR4's generous maximum of 90 cubic feet.
Thanks to its truck-based architecture, the 2010 Lexus GX 460 has a towing capacity significantly higher than that of most crossovers. At 6,500 pounds, it's nearly twice that of Lexus' own RX 350 crossover and 1,500 pounds more than that of an Acura MDX, though it still falls short of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML350.
Design/Fit and Finish
The GX 460's grille makes a rather bold styling statement. Sizing up the prominent projector-beam headlights and downturned lower air intakes, one wag likened the GX to an ancient Japanese warrior mask. We're not sure if that's what the designers were going for, but either way, we're not big fans. However, we like the GX 460's lower stance compared to the GX 470 (2.5 inches lower, to be precise) and better integrated fender flares.
The cabin is as sumptuous as ever, with high-quality materials everywhere you look and touch along with generous helpings of wood and metallic trim. The latter manages to look rich with just the right amount of sheen, unlike in some other luxury vehicles. Though our vehicle was a pre-production unit, the assembly quality was tight as a drum and we noted no squeaks or rattles, even when banging around off-road.
Who should consider this vehicle
If you need a three-row SUV that will coddle you in a plush cabin while remaining capable of busting trails and hauling heavy loads, put the 2010 Lexus GX 460 on your test-drive list. But keep in mind that there are many desirable luxury SUVs playing in this lofty league.