2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Introduction
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 is an unusual offering from a luxury brand that most people have never associated with a rugged, go-anywhere image. Ping a Lexus owner about even the flagship LX 570 and it’s doubtful that they will know about its roots as the platform-mate of the desert-crossing Toyota Land Cruiser, for the simple reason that the automaker has refrained from crowing about – or even casually mentioning – the off-road capabilities of its two most-expensive sport-utility vehicles in almost any advertising.
There’s another reason why both the Lexus GX and LX haven’t managed to evoke the same all-terrain credibility afforded more boutique brands like Land Rover: very few people buy these vehicles. A refresh for 2014 that focuses on looks, as well as redistributing features and slashing prices, is unlikely to change this fact. This is in large part because the GX 460’s truck-like strengths that are also its greatest liabilities when facing off against much more accomplished mid-size rivals like the Land Rover LR4, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Models and Prices
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 starts at roughly $5,000 cheaper than it did the year before, with a new base MSRP of $49,085. For your money, you get leather seats, dual automatic climate control, a sunroof, fog lights, keyless entry and ignition, 18-inch rims, tinted windows, a nine-speaker sound system, power adjustments for the front seats with a memory feature, and Bluetooth connectivity. The GX Luxury (MSRP $60,715) includes an adjustable suspension system with automatic air leveling at the rear, special 18-inch rims, additional safety gear, a wood steering wheel with leather trim and a heating feature, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, LED fog lights, a parking assist feature, three zones of automatic climate control, power folding outside mirrors, a navigation system, additional leather trim, the Lexus Enform telematics system, and a rearview camera.
You might have noticed that there is quite a gap in price between the two Lexus GX 460 trim levels, and that's because those who select the base model can also add a significant number of options packages at ordering time in order to make up the difference. The vehicle that I drove was a base model that featured the Comfort package, which added much of the Luxury model's interior trim and safety features minus the navigation system. The total sticker price for my GX 460 tester came to $55,265.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Design
- The 2014 Lexus GX 460 gains a new front fascia.
- Tail lights, headlights, and rear bumper have also been updated.
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 fits in more comfortably in the Lexus showroom now that it, too, sports the same imposing fascia that has been grafted onto the front end of almost every vehicle manufactured by the automaker. Certainly more aggressive than the face presented by the 2013 model, the GX 460 isn’t quite handsome but it's got personality, which is enough to bridge the gap in most relationships. From the rear and the sides the Lexus is all straight up-and-down angles and flat surfaces, never straying too far from the box shape that has defined the vehicle since its inception.
The passenger compartment of the Lexus GX 460 is a much bigger letdown. I was forced to deal with plastic control surfaces and trim that looked as though it had been lifted directly from the Toyota parts bin and stuck willy-nilly all over the dash. This a real shame, as the doors and armrests featured soft and supple leather wrapping that I was quite enamored of and which stood in stark contrast to the less-appealing aspects of the SUV’s interior. An opportunity to further accentuate the GX 460’s character with a cabin all its own has definitely been missed here by Lexus.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2014 Lexus GX 460 does not offer any new comfort or cargo features for the current model year.
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 is positioned as a three-row sport-utility vehicle, but like many of its mid-size competitors it’s best to think of that final set of accommodations as an emergency child-storage compartment and not a legitimate adult seating option. The third row, which folds up from the floor when needed, isn’t intended for anyone past the age of early adolescence on anything other than the shortest of trips, and it’s not all that easy to get back there either. Due to packaging concerns, it’s rare to find a similarly-sized full-frame luxury suv that’s capable of delivering on the promise of true seven-passenger capacity, which means you’ll have to look to a vehicle like the Buick Enclave crossover if lack of a usable third row is a deal-breaker.
I have no complaints about any other aspect of the 2014 Lexus GX 460’s seating arrangements, however, as the vehicle is sufficiently spacious behind the driver and front passenger for three-abreast riding. The front captain’s chairs also offer a good perch for monitoring the road ahead, (although I found the pebbled-leather bolsters not to my taste), and cargo space is average for its class.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Features and Controls
- The 2014 Lexus GX 460 offers a larger eight-inch LCD touchscreen.
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 suffers from the same non-descript vehicle interface system that plagues almost every Lexus and Toyota product. Particularly on my low-option tester (no navigation), the presentation on the GX 460’s center screen seems almost barren, with large, clunky-looking onscreen buttons populating a largely featureless background. There’s also not a clear logic behind the interface itself: when I push the ‘Apps’ hard button that borders the screen, and choose ‘Eco’ for example, I am shown a graph of the vehicle’s fuel consumption…but nothing else to suggest that this is an actual app of any kind, nor how I might install other ‘apps.’
In combination with the Lexus GX 460’s heavy use of plastic switches and buttons (as well as the large bank ‘delete’ plates on the center console for features that the vehicle I drove didn’t come with), the net effect is far from the engrossing, warm experience one would expect from a premium automobile. Lexus has elected to pursue a rather stark implementation of the modern infotainment interface, and it doesn’t hold up well when compared to competing systems from Chrysler, Audi, or Cadillac.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Safety and Ratings
- The Lexus GX 460 can now be had with a blind spot monitoring system.
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 contains the expected number of airbags, along with an electronic traction control and stability control system, and a hill descent assist feature that can keep the SUV moving at a slow and manageable speed when tooling down a steep decline. New for 2014 is a blind spot monitoring system that also bundles in a rear cross-traffic detection system that is useful when backing out of a parking spot. Forward collision warning is also available when the vehicle is ordered with the option of adaptive cruise control.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Crash Test Ratings: The GX 460 has yet to be crash tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2014 Lexus GX 460 carries over last year’s drivetrain.
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 maintains the 2013 edition’s eight-cylinder engine, a 4.6-liter mill that can be relied on to produce 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the SUV, and fuel mileage for the heavy truck is listed at 15-mpg in stop and go driving and 20-mpg on the highway.
The GX 460 sports some pretty serious off-road hardware attached to the underside of its chassis, including a full-time four-wheel drive system as standard equipment, and a locking center differential. A low-range transfer case also comes with the Lexus, contributing in no small part to its below-average efficiency rating.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Driving Impressions
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 is reminiscent of a different era of luxury motoring when the automakers the world over were scrambling to stuff body-on-frame trucks with leather interiors and cosmetically-enhanced body work in order to cash in on the premium SUV craze. For most other companies, that time came and went around the middle of the past decade, but Lexus has clung to this particular definition of what a premium sport-utility vehicle should be far past its due date.
Unlike the LX 570, a monster of a full-size ‘ute that manages to squeeze credibility from its Land Cruiser cousin’s majestically capable platform, the GX 460 has no similar heritage that it can claim as its own. In large part a clone of the Toyota 4Runner, albeit with a more rambunctious drivetrain, the GX 460 drives very much like the soft and floaty luxury SUVs of yesteryear. This is due to the ultra-soft settings cooked into the Lexus’ suspension system, which ensures undisturbed passage over even the roughest of roads but exacts a definite toll when it comes time to turn a corner. Also conspiring against the GX 460’s ability to dance down a highway on-ramp is its considerable mass and equally-imposing ride height. The vehicle comes standard with the brand’s KDSS active suspension system, which is intended to mitigate body roll, but even with this trick setup I had to be careful not to overcook corners behind the wheel.
It’s quite easy to do so thanks to the vehicle’s strapping 4.6-liter V-8, at once the best and worst feature of the 2014 Lexus GX 460. I enjoyed the over-achieving torque produced by the motor, which allowed the portly SUV to surge forward with authority and put out a pleasing soundtrack in the process. I didn’t so much like the fact that every time I dipped into the throttle the Lexus’ fuel mileage slipped to single-digits. I have no idea what the green ECO light that kept illuminating on the GX 460’s dash was trying to suggest – perhaps that I should get out and walk? Given that it was on almost all the time (it’s worth noting that the SUV doesn’t actually have a selectable ‘Eco mode’), it couldn’t have reflected the gas-slurping reality of what was happening underneath the Lexus’ hood. I struggled to even come close to the truck’s city rating during my week with the vehicle.
Low-range four-wheel drive is there to help you out of sticky - or slippery - situations, but it's not a shift-on-the-fly system. In fact, you have to have the transmission in neutral in order for your flick of the 4LO button to have any effect other than a persistent, puzzling beeping. It's a bit annoying considering that the same isn't true of the center-locking differential, which can be button-activated at any speed.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Final Thoughts
The 2014 Lexus GX 460 should be viewed as a vehicle that will appeal to a shrinking niche of luxury shoppers: those who want an SUV that can tow, occasionally bound across an uneven field or muddy trail, and impress the neighbors with its eight-cylinder snarl. The poor GX 460 isn’t a ‘bad’ vehicle – it was just born about 10 years too late. Wait a minute, what am I saying –taking a look at is aging bones it's clear that it was born at exactly the right time, but like that friend from college who crashed on your couch last summer for a weekend ‘visit’ that stretched until the end of the month, it hasn’t bothered to evolve. Relevance is key when competing in one of the most hotly-contested areas of the market, and while this Lexus might have once upon a time been a fine premium 'truck', not too many brands are selling those anymore – and far fewer people are buying them.
2014 Lexus GX 460 Review: Pros and Cons
- New aggressive styling is an improvement
- Low-range four-wheel drive and decent ground clearance give the GX decent off-road capability
- Passenger room is generous in the first two rows
- V-8 engine is surprisingly potent
- Consumes a huge a mount of fuel
- Third row is child-sized
- Handling is sub-par compared to competitors
- LCD interface features dated graphics and logic
ToyotaCanada supplied the vehicle for this review
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