2020 Lexus GX 460 First Drive: The Last OG

Whileotherluxuryautomakershaveditchedbody-on-frameSUVsforunibodycrossoversinthemid-sizeclass,Lexuscontinuestoshownosignofabandoningtheproductionmethod.Infact,theLexusGX460istheonlySUVinitssegmenttoutilizethetruck-likeconstructionpractice.

TheLarge-And-In-ChargeLexus':

2018LexusGX460Review:Old-SchoolAndProud

Forthe2020modelyear,theGX460leansintoitsantiquatedwaysbyemphasizingtheoff-roadbenefitsofitsassemblyprocesswiththeoptionofanewOff-Roadpackage,whichaddsasurround-viewcamerasystemthataffordsmultiplecameraviews,atransmissioncooler,additionalfueltankprotection,andthebrand’scrawlcontrolandmulti-terrainselectsystems.LimitedtotheLuxurytrimlevel,theOff-Roadpackage’scrawlcontrolfunctionworkslikelow-speedcruisecontrolandmaintainsoneoffivesetspeedsbyautomaticallymodulatingtheacceleratorandbrakes.Thefunctionisonlyavailablewiththevehicle’stwo-speedtransfercasesettoLow,though.

Meanwhile,multi-terrainselectoffersanumberofoff-roaddrivemodesdesignedtooptimizetheflowofpowertotheGX460’sfourwheelsforanumberofspecificconditions,includingfordrivingonrocks,mud,sand,andmoguls.

Unfortunately,I’munabletotesttheupdatedGX460’sadditionaloff-roadcredibilityalongthefreshlypavedroadsofCostaRica’sroutes253and254.LocatedeastofthesparklingbluewaterthatblanketstheGulfofPapagayo,thefreshasphaltemphasizesthecushyrideandquietcabinofthethree-rowLexus.It’seasytounderstandwhythisisthebrand’sfourthbest-sellingmodelintheUnitedStatessixmonthsinto2019.

Withahigh-qualitycabin,acommandingseatingposition,andastandard301-horsepower4.6-literV8engine,theGX460exudesluxuryandcapabilityfromthedriver’sseat.ThankstonewinteriordetailssuchasGraySapelewoodwithaluminumtrimforPremiumandLuxurymodels,athree-spokesteeringwheel,andarevisedgaugecluster,theGX460’scabinisnowanevennicerplacetospendtime.

Don’tjudgethisSUV’sinnardsbyitsdecor,though.Lookpastitstightlyscrewedtogetherpanelsandhigh-gradematerials,andtheGX460’sinterior’sergonomicflawsshowthrough.Themostegregiousfaultsareinthecenterstack.Here,Lexusemploysadatedtouchscreeninfotainmentsystemthat’sslowtorespondtoinputs,reliesonlow-qualitygraphics,andburiessimplefunctionswithinconfusingon-screenmenus.Forexample,changingthefanspeedfortheclimatecontrolsystemrequiresdiggingintoanon-screenmenudespitejustabouteveryotherclimatefunctionofferingphysical,dash-mountedbuttons.

Newschoolluxury...

...oldschooltech.

Insteadofinvestinginimprovedinfotainmentandclimatecontrolsystems,LexusspentdevelopmentdollarstoslightlyaltertheGX460’sexteriorwithnewtriple-beamLEDheadlightsandarevisedspindlegrille.Thechangesaresmall,andneithermaketheSUVanymoreorlessattractivethanbefore,althoughtheavailableSportDesignpackageaddsatouchofextraaggressiontothemodelbyincorporatingaspeciallower-grilletreatment,rearvalence,sidemirrors,19-inchwheelsandtires,redtaillights,andablackexhausttip.Thepackagealsoreplacesthestandardthree-acrosssecond-rowbenchseatwithapairofbucketseats.

Still,theSportDesignpackage’svisualsarecertaintowriteachecktheGX460’smechanicalbitscan’tcash.TheSUV’snosedivesdeeplywitheachtapofitsmushybrakepedal,whileitsbodyleansand18-inchall-seasontiressquealthroughroute254’stightturns–evenwiththeavailableadaptivedamperssettoSportmode.Additionally,theslowandover-boostedsteeringoffersalmostnofeedback,andthesix-speedautomatictransmissionisslowtodownshiftontheuphillsectionsofthejourney.Nomatterhowyousliceit,theSportDesignpackage’sbiggerwheelsandtireswon’tfixtheGX460’son-roadinferiorities.

TheSportDesignpackage’svisualsarecertaintowriteachecktheGX460’smechanicalbitscan’tcash.

Yet,theGX460’sallureismorevisceralthansimpledynamics.It’sthelastofadyingbreedofmid-size,body-on-frameluxurySUVs,andformanyconsumers,theGX460’sgo-anywhereability,old-worldcharm,andthree-rowseatingareanenticingcombination.TheadditionofanOff-Roadpackageandnewlystandardadvancedsafetyandconveniencefeaturessuchasautomaticfrontbrakingwithpedestriandetection,lane-departurealert,automatichigh-beamheadlights,andadaptivecruisecontrolaresuretomaketheGX460evenmoreappealingtothosewhoembraceitsdynamicflaws.Thatsaid,thosewhodon’tplantooff-roadtheirmid-sizeluxurySUV,orfindtheGX460’sold-worlddynamicsunappealing,aresuretopreferthecar-likecomfortsofacompetingcrossover.

2020LexusGX460
Engine4.6-LiterV8
Output301Horsepower/329Pound-Feet
Transmission6-SpeedAutomatic
DriveTypeFour-WheelDrive
FuelEconomy15City/18Highway/16Combined
Weight5,130Pounds
Towing6,500Pounds
SeatingCapacity7
CargoVolume64.7CubicFeet
BasePrice$53,000
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