What It Is
A full-size luxury SUV with full off-road capabilities.
Surprisingly nimble and powerful for its size.
The suspension is too stiff for a luxury vehicle.
If you're not worried about fuel economy and want a luxury SUV that can go almost anywhere, the 2014 Lexus GX 460 is a good choice.
I've been lucky enough to grow up around the Lexus brand, getting the chance to ride in the majority of the lineup as it became available, but the Lexus GX was one that I'd never had the chance to catch a ride in. The 2014 Lexus GX 460 has been slightly refreshed for the new model year, and while many people go back and forth over the new spindle grille that is appearing on all new Lexus models, there's much more to this luxury SUV.
You can't go ten minutes driving in Southern California without passing at least one of these models on the road, as they are immediately noticeable. Although the GX is off-road capable, you don't hear many stories about a weekend trip where the sole purpose was to climb rocks and fly over sand dunes. That's something Jeep and Land Rover owners talk about. We were eager to get behind the wheel and see all this model had to offer as these things are flying out of dealerships. Read on to see what we thought of the 2014 Lexus GX 460.
What We DroveThe base 2014 Lexus GX 460 starts at $49,085, and is powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 that produced 301 horses and 329 pound-feet of torque. Equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive, you can tell this vehicle can handle itself on almost all terrains. Standard features include LED headlamps and daytime running lights, a power moonroof, keyless entry and ignition, a theft-deterrent system with an engine immobilizer, seven-passenger seating, power front seats, and a Lexus premium display audio system.
Standard safety features include ten airbags and Safety Connect, which features automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assist button, and enhanced roadside assistance. Our model was also equipped with a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert ($800) and the Premium package that adds leather seats, a mahogany wood trim, intuitive parking assist, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, touchscreen navigation, and Lexus Enform ($4,710). Other added features include a cargo net ($45) and cargo mats ($105), which brought our model to a total of $54,764 before the $910 destination charge.
The CommuteWe went into driving this model with some high expectations, and while many of them were met, not all of them were. We were delighted to find out that although the Lexus GX 460 is a rather large SUV, it offers nimble handling. Because the SUV is so heavy, we expected fuel economy to suffer, and while it's rated at 15/20 mpg city/highway, we were lucky to get it over 14 mpg. On the highway.
The suspension is one of the first things you notice when you pull out on the road. The weight of the car is the second. The ride is rather stiff, and not something you'd expect in a luxury model. All bumps are immediately apparent, as this model has traded in its standard air suspension for a coil suspension. We don't think this was one of the automaker's best decisions, as the new suspension was meant for off-roading and not driving along city streets.
Braking in this model takes some getting used to, as the car jerks forward if you press the brakes just a little too hard. One thing that met our expectations is the quietness in the cabin. Like any other Lexus model, you're wrapped in silence when driving down the road. Hardly and wind or other road noise is audible, which we enjoyed driving to and from the office.
The Grocery RunWith the third row seats folded flat, the Lexus GX 460 offers up quite a bit of cargo room, letting it easily hold all your groceries, weekend necessities, and then some. Thanks to its square, boxy design, the GX has the ability to hold taller items, without the tops getting crunched when the rear door shuts.
The design also lends to increased headroom for taller passengers. All second row passengers will find the Lexus GX 460 accommodating and comfortable. For the third row, children will be able to fit comfortably, and we hope no adult is subjected to that cramped rearmost seat. Because the vehicle is pretty high off the ground, some passengers may find it slightly difficult to get in and out, but with the running boards, they should get the extra boost they may need.
Thanks to the backup camera and rear cross-traffic alert, maneuvering in and out of tight parking spots is a breeze, especially when paired with its sharp steering and nimble handling. An SUV of this size doesn't normally handle so well, and we enjoyed its easy movability when just leaving the extremely cramped office parking lot.
The Weekend FunWhen you take in the interior of the 2014 Lexus GX 460 there's lots to love, and lots to hate. While the interior itself is well-furnished, some of the features are dated or simply lacking. Taking a look at the fuel economy had us lost for words. Even babying the gas pedal, we couldn't reach the EPA-estimated 15/20 mpg city/highway, even on the highway and going the speed limit.
We expected to see the infotainment system found in other recently updated Lexus models, but what we got was a dated system that lagged whenever you pressed a button. However, when you get past some of its deficiencies, the actual layout of controls centralized around the display screen is appealing and easy to use.
While driving on the freeway, the Lexus GX 460 is able to get up to cruising speeds easily enough. It is slightly difficult to find a comfortable driving position, as the driver's seat is positioned very high up. One would think that the seats would help to cushion and compensate for the stiff suspension, but we found them to be lacking. The leather is chintzy and the seats themselves aren't as comfortable as we would have thought.
SummaryWhile we may have come in with expectations of what the 2014 Lexus GX 460 was going to be like, it's safe to say that we expected too much. Overall, the GX is a good vehicle, but if you're concerned with fuel economy and want a true luxury SUV, you may want to look elsewhere, or check out the slightly smaller Lexus RX.
We came away from the GX feeling like it was in the middle of the pack. It isn't as luxurious as the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, nor do we feel that it is as capable as the Land Rover LR4. It got lost somewhere in the middle, and thanks to the new suspension, we feel uncomfortable driving it on the road. If Lexus would have kept the air suspension instead of the coils, this may be a very different review.
We hope for the next update that Lexus goes back to the other suspension, adds more upscale features, and tweaks the driving dynamics to make the Lexus GX 460 the vehicle we expect it to be.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $55,674
EPA City: 15
EPA Highway: 20
EPA Combined: 17
Cargo Space: 64.7 cubic feet
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Child Seat Fitment, Third Row: Fair
Estimated Combined Range: 391
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Excellent
"This is a great vehicle for the Sahara, but it's a sh**** vehicle for Los Angeles...at least until the apocalypse."-Jacob Brown, Online Editor