2013 Lexus GX 460 Test Drive and Review | Catalog-cars

2013 Lexus GX 460 Test Drive and Review

25 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2013 Lexus GX 460 Test Drive and Review
Lexus GX460

Driving with the Hobgoblin

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, or so said Ralph Waldo Emerson. I’m faced with this hobgoblin: I have always liked the Lexus GX, and I have made no bones about saying so – but now I’m doubting whether or not this consistency stands between me and true objectivity. The 2013 Lexus GX 460 returns unchanged from 2012, which was unchanged from 2011, the last time I reviewed the vehicle. which was unchanged from 2010, the last time GX got a cosmetic refresh.

Back then, I compared the GX (favorably) with my personal ride, Moose the 1994 Toyota 4Runner, because 4Runner and GX share a platform as members of the Toyota family of SUVs. The 2013 Lexus GX 460 Premium carries a base price of $58,240 ($69,199 as tested), with a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty and fuel economy estimates of 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway. Let’s drive.

First Glance

With no changes to its exterior, my photos of the new GX differ from my old photos only in color and location. I still like the rugged elegance of GX’s design, especially the tall greenhouse with generously sized windows and great outward visibility. GX hasn’t yet adopted the aggressive new Lexus corporate grille, but its inverted trapezoidal grille is still looking pretty fresh.

GX is aging gracefully, remaining vital and powerful.

Another thing that hasn’t changed on GX is Lexus’s excellent fit and finish. Everything on the GX is perfectly aligned, with uniform, tight gaps and seams. Paint quality is superb, and chrome and trim work is all beyond reproach.

In the Driver’s Seat

2013 Lexus GX 460

Photo #169; Jason Fogelson

Here’s where I begin to wonder about my changing perceptions. I still love the ergonomics of the GX’s drivers seat and dashboard, but I’m confounded by the feeling that the whole vehicle is just too big for its intended purpose. I feel like I’m sitting up too high, taking up too much space on the road, and not getting enough out of the GX to justify my position.

Have I been spending too much time in crossover vehicles? I recently drove the bookends to the GX in the Lexus lineup, the flagship LX and the crossover RX. and both of those felt just right in context. I think it has something to do with the third row seat in GX, which is so small and uncomfortable that I couldn’t even contort myself into it for a test ride.

Flipping the headrests into position nearly completely obliterates the driver’s rear view. With the third row in use, there’s just 11.6 cubic feet of luggage space available. Fold down the third row, and access to 46.7 cubic feet opens up.

Flop down the second row, and 91.9 cubic feet of cargo room awaits your purchases. Access to the cargo compartment is via a right-side hinged tailgate with a pop-up window. I wish the tailgate was hinged on the other side, for easier access from the curb in these here United States – but that’s one of those complaints that falls on deaf ears.

On the plus side, GX is loaded with luxury features and can be optioned up with even more luxury and technology. My test vehicle, a Premium model, came with a $3,930 option, the Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package, which equips the GX with premium surround-sound audio that’s really at the top of the class. The $2,400 optional dual screen DVD rear seat entertainment system seems like overkill in these days of $399 iPads and Kindle Fires.

A sophisticated pre-collision system and driver attention monitor with radar cruise control and lane departure warning runs $3,170, and would probably be a wise investment.

On the Road (and Off)

GX’s 301 hp, 4.6-liter V8 engine feels a bit like an anachronism, as smaller, more sophisticated powerplants are currently putting out more horsepower with greater efficiency by using technologies like direct injection and turbocharging. Still, there’s something to be said for proven reliability, and that’s what Lexus is counting on with this powertrain, which also features a six-speed automatic transmission and a TORSEN limited slip, electronically-locking center differential and full-time four-wheel drive.

Throttle by wire and other sophisticated electronic controls really come to life when GX leaves the pavement. Shift the transmission into Low Range, and you can use Crawl Control, which uses the throttle and brakes to keep the vehicle moving at one of five pre-set controlled rates, either forward or reverse, freeing you up to concentrate on steering the GX on the best lines. There goes all that work practicing steady throttle application and left-foot braking, out the window.

Well, not really. But there are situations where electronic throttle control can work better when conquering difficult obstacles, like loose sand or gravel pits. GX’s steel body mounted on a steel perimeter frame is about as traditional as you can get when it comes to off-road vehicle construction.

Lexus shakes it up a little with double wishbone independent front suspension, but sticks with a multi-link rigid axle setup in the rear, suspended by air springs on the Premium model (coil springs on the Standard model). Premium models also get adaptive variable suspension and adjustable height control, improving the off-road chops even more.

Lexus GX460

Off-road prowess doesn’t always match with on-road manners, but GX delivers a nicely balanced ride on pavement thanks in part to front and rear stabilizer bars. If you want to smooth out the on-pavement ride even further, and never plan to leave the pavement for the dirt, you could change the standard mud and snow tires that come wrapped around GX’s 18 alloy wheels for summer tires — sacrilege, but your passengers will thank you for it. My test vehicle arrived shod with Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires, an all-season tire that does a great job on-road in a wide variety of conditions, and a nice compromise for a vehicle that will live in a mild climate.

Journey’s End

2013 Lexus GX 460

Photo #169; Jason Fogelson

I started off this review in fear of a hobgoblin. I feared that I was clinging to my affection for the GX in part because I didn’t want to admit that my opinion has shifted. I have released that hobgoblin.

I see the GX for what it is, and I don’t feel bad about that anymore. The 2013 Lexus GX 460 is the last of a dying breed, the body-on-frame luxury SUV. In some ways, Lexus brought about GX’s eventual demise the moment it revealed the RX, which started a trend in unibody crossover luxury. There’s still a place for GX, it’s just a much more specialized market now. And Lexus isn’t really in the specialized marketplace, as the leading luxury brand in the US.

That doesn’t change anything about the current GX, which is a really solid survivor.

I understand coming back to the Lexus GX. I could see myself behind the wheel of a GX for many years, just as I have enjoyed my partnership with Moose for all these years. Perhaps instead of fearing that hobgoblin, I should just embrace it, and take it for a ride down the road.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy .

Lexus GX460
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