Most people will never use their luxury SUV for off-road adventures, but with the Lexus GX460, you definitely can. When you think of a tough SUV, Lexus doesn’t usually come to mind. We think of Land Rover and Jeep, but not Lexus.
The 2014 Lexus GX460 has the looks and feel of a luxury SUV, but its platform is shared with the off-road capable Toyota 4Runner. This big Lexus SUV is designed to hold up to regular use over rugged terrain, and is up to the task of taking on more challenging trails. And for someone needing to tow a boat, motorhome or recreation toys, the GX460 fits the bill.
This week we’re test driving the 2014 Lexus GX460 the Luxury trim ($60,715) and the sweet-sounding optional Mark Levinson Premium Audio package ($1,145). It comes standard with an off-road ready full-time AWD and Torsen limited slip center differential with an electronic locking feature.
What’s New for 2014?
The 2014 2014 Lexus GX460 gets updated exterior styling with a new grille, LED headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, and LED foglamps on the Luxury model we’re testing this week. The rear also gets updates with new fascia with clear taillamps. Inside there’s a new multimedia system with an 8-inch screen. Underneath, a trailer sway control is now standard.
Inside Lexus GX460
This luxury SUV has seating for seven and the cabin is trimmed in luxury with wood, leather seats, heated and ventilated seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power moonroof, multimedia entertainment and other amenities. Like other luxury SUVs, there is a nicely-designed interior lighting system and all the luxury and comfort you would expect from the Lexus brand.
This SUV is large and has three rows for hauling people and cargo. The front row is especially spacious and is big enough to handle a seven-footer. The front seats are 10-way power adjustable, the four-spoke heated Mahogany steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and automatically tilts away when the Power button is pushed to shut the GX460 off.
The second-row seat slides forward to allow easy access to the third row. Like most SUVs with a third row, its designed for kids or short trips for adults. The third-row seats fold flat at the push of a button, converting the GX460 to a five-passenger SUV with lots of cargo-carrying ability. The interior is cavernous and because the GX460 is so long, we were able to load a screen door my wife purchased from the Habit for Humanity Restore. Total cargo capacity with the seats folded is 92 cubic feet.
Mark Levinson audio system
The optional Mark Levinson audio system ($1,145) needs special mention. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every penny if you are an audiophile. The optional system comes with 17 speakers, 330 watts of power and less than 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion. If you like to play your music load, this is a must-have option. And for those sitting in the back seats, you can crank up the sound and its just as good as in the front.
Lexus GX460 comes with a body-on-frame construction and low range gearing making it a formidable off-road worthy SUV. It’s a smooth operator when you go to town and a great setup for backcountry excursions. This luxury SUV would also be ideal for someone who lives on a ranch with limited access to road maintenance.
The GX460 comes standard with a full-time 4WD with locking center differential and low-range gearing. The system requires little or no input from the driver, and it’s ideal for secure travel during heavy downpours and on icy or snow-packed roads. If you are towing stuff, GX460 can tow up to 6500 pounds with the optional hitch.
On the road
The Lexus GX comes standard with a 4.6-liter V8, hence the GX460 designation from Lexus. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s EPA-rated at 15/20 mpg city/highway, and we achieved 16.5 mpg during our week of city and mountain driving in Colorado. But we pushed the luxury SUV hard up the hill whenever we could.
The 4.6-liter makes 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque and by today’s standards that’s not a lot for a vehicle that weighs 5340 pounds. On the level highway, the SUV cruises smooth and unstressed. But when it’s pushed hard up the mountain at altitude, the 301 hp V8 had to work extra hard. The transmission kicks down and it sucks the gas to keep the heavy SUV accelerating.
Cornering in the mountain curves is good for a vehicle this size. There was minimal body roll for a tall vehicle like this due to the adaptive variable suspension and rear air suspension with auto load leveling. The GX460 tracked through corners predictably without need for correction.
The 2014 Lexus GX460 Luxury model has all the luxury you would want in an SUV and its a great place for long road trips. Where this big SUV shines is in its ability to tackle off-road and rugged terrain. It features a more rugged suspension and 4WD system designed for the rough stuff. But on the road it’s quiet and smooth.
The 4.6-liter V8 offers good power for most driving situations. If you have a large family, need to haul lots of cargo and will use your luxury SUV for recreation or backcountry excursions, the GX460 is a wise choice.