Who Is This Car For?
DINKs who like space, luxury, and off-roading; families with a couple of kids who won’t have to use the third row regularly
Model Year: 2016
Model and Trim: GX460 Luxury
Price as Tested (including destination): $68,765
EPA fuel economy (combined/city/hwy): 17/15/20 mpg
Number of seats: 7
Number of Latch anchors: 2 sets
Number of cupholders: 5 1/2 (there’s a pretty useless coaster type holder on one side in 3rd row), plus 4 in-door bottle holders
A few of my favorite things (about the 2015 Lexus GX460):
In and Out
Most of what enamors me about the Lexus GX460 lies in the fact that it is a prime example of seeming opposites existing in perfect harmony. Here is a vehicle that is swathed in luxury. It stands upright not he roads and in parking lots with urbane posture and handsome lines on the outside; it envelops the driver and passengers in soft materials and comfortable appointments on the inside. It accelerates with confidence, like a well-bred steed, and cruises along effortlessly in golden silence.
But then, it can bust out of its sophisticated and calm demeanor to attack the roughest of off-road terrain with the best of them. It’s the prep school boy who comes from wealth and it able to tough it out on any sports field matching wits and athleticism with the feistiest of opponents. Yes, the GX460 is impressive in many ways, just like that prep school boy.
I loved being in command of the 4.6-liter V8 engine. It delivers power smoothly and the six-speed transmission shifts gears without notice most of the time. Crossing on the highway feels exceedingly comfortable as does driving around town (poor fuel economy notwithstanding, but more on that later). The full-time 4WD plus a limited slip center differential and variable suspension (thank you to the press of a button!) work together to create easy rolling over rough off-road terrain and in wintry conditions.
I once thought I detested the side-opening of the rear cargo door in the GX460, but upon further reflection, I really quite like it. There’s no automatic opening or shutting of this door, as would be expected in a luxury vehicle, but there is something more facile about the side-open that has grown on me over the years. There’s no stretching up to reach the door, it doesn’t threaten to hit the roof beams in the garage. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it this time around.
Of course, like that prep school boy mentioned above, the GX460 is by no means perfect. Everyone has their shortcomings. For example, if you want to use the third row in this car, you can forget about having any rear cargo space. In fact, cargo space is somewhat sparse throughout the entire vehicle. It exists by way of barely-there cupholders and tiny bins, but stingily so and that doesn’t work for an active family of three plus dog like mine.
The third row itself isn’t much to speak of. It’s tight and not nearly as comfortable as the front and 2nd rows. This is a place reserved only for children and not large ones. It’s also somewhat challenging to get in and out of, despite the 2nd row sliding forward some. My son typically get out of the car by jettisoning himself messily over the 2nd row.
I’ve never loved operating the center stack and infotainment system on a Lexus. I find it unresponsive in many cases and not intuitive in others. The voice command works reasonably well, but navigating through to try and get the rear DVD screens (available for $1,970) to ignite and play always seems to require some strokes of luck. Admittedly, I’m not the most tech-savvy person around, but my belief is that operation of in-car tech should require little to no frustration, lest it distract one from the road itself.
Naturally, being so powerful and athletic also detracts from some economies and fuel economy is pretty atrocious. This 4.6-liter V8 guzzles gas like the prep school boys probably guzzles Jack & Cokes on the weekends. Though the official numbers are 17/15/20 mpg, I averaged toward the lower end of things thanks to much of my driving being that of the city variety.