Driven: 2013 Lexus GX 460 takes road less paved – Phoenix Auto Review | Examiner.com

12 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Driven: 2013 Lexus GX 460 takes road less paved – Phoenix Auto Review | Examiner.com
Lexus GX460

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The 2013 Lexus GX460 still a body-on-frame SUV that laughs at rutted paths through the cactus and the occasional wash. It does so however, while treating its passengers and driver like royalty. It comes with a top drawer leather interior complete with genuine wood trims, Mark Levinson sound, a very well done infotainment touch screen system, and enough sound deadening to wash out that washboard road you are gliding over.

Our first impression climbing behind the wheel and driving off from our Lexus keeper was how at first heavy and truck-like it was compared to so many of the crossover SUV’s we drive. This was the genuine article with a bit of a lumber and sway, a deep distant growl from its 4.6 liter 301 horsepower V8 as we hit the freeway toward the Superstition Mountains for a tip into the wilds.

Acceleration has that building feel you get in a 747 jet-airliner throttling up for take-off. Power is being seamlessly put down through its six-speed automatic transmission as the GX gathers cruising speed. It doesn’t push you back in your seat until after you were well underway and realize you are feathering the speed limit a bit devilishly.

In our drive we spent much time on the back roads of our Tonto National Forest, crossing washes and pushing it through sand that we wondered if we’d be stuck in. The GX still has a transfer case with 4-wheel high and low, and a Torsen locking center differential.

Our tester was a premium model which was equipped with the adjustable air suspension. The latter allowed for console adjustable height control which can come in handy when picking up and delivering your royalty on the other side of the mountain trail. The suspension, adjustable or not was an amazing feat of pillowy ride with zero shudder and shimmy over washboard roads while retaining truck-like toughness when pressed.

On the highway, the ride is glass and the cabin vault like quiet. Steering effort is on the heavy side which is good, and braking effort is high – also a good trait in a vehicle this size. It helps you keep your focus on the job at hand.

Side to side roll stiffness when turning or changing lanes is adequate with body roll mostly in check.

The adjustable suspension had three settings from “Comfort” to “Sport”, which were definitely differentiated and justified the switch which controlled it. We recommend setting it on sport and leaving it here. We found that setting it on comfort induced a strange sea-sickness float which affected everyone in the vehicle almost immediately. It was an odd phenomenon we tried on a number of people, but flicking the switch to comfort almost always got us a, “What did you do?”

The interior design says truck when you climb behind the wheel. The upright dash and high sight lines combined with the thick center console and tall gear lever put you in your place. While it is amazingly civilized in the way we expect Lexus interiors to be, there is still just a hint of off-roader flair here – which we liked.

It’s sadly missing from so many SUV’s these days.

The seats were heated and cooled, the cruise control had a well done radar-based adjustments. At night we loved the self turning HID headlamps, which work very well. Our rear seat passengers also enjoyed heated seats, and the power third row chairs were a nice touch.

The swing out lift gate out back was the only head scratcher we came across with the overall living experience, as it is heavy and blocks traffic at the mall parking lot.

When you get back from the trek to the mountain lake and back, park on top of the mountain you just drove to the top of however some of these details get lost. The bottom line is that the Lexus GX-460 and its distant relative Toyota 4Runner are the very last of a breed of true-blue off-road SUV’s. While Jeep gets close with their Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, neither have the combination of luxury and ruggedness.

Yes its expensive. Our tester with its Premium trim grade and options came in at just under $68,000. When you consider the next step up LX 570 which is based on the famed Land Cruiser will cost about $90,000 similarly equipped, the GX 460 starts looking like a bargain.

With 5,300 lbs to move, the 4.6 liter DOHC V8 as expected isn’t going to return you 30 mpg. The GX is rated at 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. On the freeway however we watched it easily get us 23-24 mpg on average if we weren’t pushing it.

In our week of testing with a good balance of city and highway, off-road and shopping mall we achieved 17.6 mpg.

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