Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the Lexus GX 460's target audience. No question, there are people who have to deal with extreme driving conditions in their day-to-day lives: Extreme snow, unpaved and ungroomed roads, or steep driveways strewn with boulders so big you need an oxygen mask to stand on top of them. Of those people, some have families. And of those people, some have money to spend on a luxury vehicle.
The GX 460 is one of very few vehicles designed for such extreme family motoring, with durable body-on-frame construction, a gutsy V8 engine, an off-road-ready four-wheel-drive system with high ground clearance, and three rows of seats. But the GX also has its downsides: Poor fuel economy, ponderous handling, a dated cabin and a lack of advanced driver-assistance and safety features in lower-trim models. There are other vehicles with similar capabilities ? not many, but they are out there ? and not all are saddled with these shortcomings.
Lexus is a whiz when it comes to leather and wood, and the GX 460's interior is warm and luxurious. But it also seems a bit behind the times, with an old-school feeling to the control layout. Though the front seats are comfortable, the second row is less so and the third row is only suited for small children. The GX 460 offers less cargo space than its rivals, and the tailgate is hinged on the passenger side, making curbside loading difficult (at least in countries where we drive on the right side of the road). That said, a top-hinged rear window does make it easy to drop in groceries and carry long items like surfboards.
The GX 460's 4.6-liter V8 produced 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque, and comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case. The GX 460 can tow up to 6,500 pounds and its off-road performance is excellent, but such abilities come at the cost of on-road manners. Steering and brakes are slower to respond than in a crossover, and big as the engine is, it has to work its oil pan off to get the 5,200-pound GX up to highway speeds. No surprise, then, that the EPA fuel economy rating is unimpressive ? just 16 mpg combined (15 city/18 highway), enough to make us ask, "Is this much SUV really necessary?"
Lexus offers the GX 460 in two trim levels: Base and Luxury. Base is a poor name, since this version is very well equipped, though some luxury nice-to-haves come only in option bundles. The Luxury model is well worth having, not only for its extra creature comforts but for its auto-leveling rear air springs, which do wonders for the GX's ride.
If you're shopping for this go-anywhere SUV, Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Lexus GX 460 for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.