Auto review: Lexus GX 460 rolls on for 2019, capable of hauling the family on or off the road

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 27, 2019

            

Now in its second generation, the seven-passenger Lexus GX 460 full-size sport utility returns for 2019. G. Chambers Williams III of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers his review.

Now in its second generation, the seven-passenger Lexus GX 460 full-size sport utility returns for 2019 with a starting price of $52,355 (plus $1,025 freight) for the base model, $54,925 for the midlevel Premium, and $63,755 for the top-of-the-line Luxury version, which we tested for this report.

For 2019, the GX carries over without any major changes, but the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert is now a standard feature at no extra cost.

Also, the Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect features are complimentary for 10 years, and Lexus Enform Remote, which brings smart-watch and Amazon Alexa integration, is now included on all models.

Over the past couple of years there have been some content tweaks, such as the addition of a new Sport Design Package ($1,950) for the two higher trim levels, which adds 18-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels with gunmetal metallic finish; special front fascia and lower grille surround; side mirrors with chrome detail; a sporty rear valence; chrome exhaust tip; scarlet taillights; and heated middle row tilt/slide dual captain’s chairs.

Among other features added recently were standard LED headlights and daytime running lights, and optional LED fog lights (included on Luxury and Premium), along with a new rear fascia and taillights.

Also, dual captain’s chairs are available for the second row of seats, which will cut the vehicle’s capacity to six people; and heated and ventilated front seats are offered as a standalone option ($640) on the base model, rather than requiring a full separate upgrade package.

There’s also an available Driver Support Package with Mark Levinson Audio ($2,340), included on our Luxury tester, which adds high-tech safety gear such as the Pre-Collision System, Driver Attention Monitor, Lane Departure Alert, Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High-Beam Headlights, Crawl Control, and Wide View Front and Side Monitor.

The Driver Attention Monitor uses a camera to scan the driver’s face, and to sound a warning if the driver stops looking forward. If the driver doesn’t respond as the vehicle closes on an obstacle detected ahead, this system gently applies the brakes, retracts the front seatbelts and prepares the brake system to respond with increased force when the brake pedal is pushed.

Premium models are created by adding the Premium Package to the base GX, bringing leather seats, mahogany wood interior trim, rain-sensing wipers with windshield de-icer, 18-inch split-spoke alloy wheels, LED fog lights, intuitive parking assist, heated/ventilated front bucket seats, heated outboard second-row seats, three-zone automatic climate control, touch-screen navigation with voice control, and the Lexus Enform telematics/connectivity system with app suite and destination assist.

Additional features on the Luxury model include the Adaptive Variable Suspension, self-leveling rear air suspension, semi-aniline leather interior trim, wood- and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel, power-reclining and folding third-row seats, headlight washers and a cargo-area cover.

The included Lexus Enform Service Connect allows owners to have remote access to information about the vehicle. The available information includes maintenance alerts, warning-light notifications, and vehicle health reports that include email and push notifications for diagnostic information, required maintenance reminders, current vehicle alerts, service campaigns, and more.

Also available is Lexus Enform Remote, which allows the owner to remotely view and control certain vehicle features using a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. Key features include remote door lock/unlock; remote stop/start for the engine and climate control; vehicle finder, guest driver monitor and more.

On all models, there’s a standard audio system with eight-inch touch-screen display, backup camera system, and HD radio with real-time traffic and weather information. Trailer sway control is also standard.

Our Luxury tester, though, came with the Mark Levinson Premium Audio, included in the Driver Support Package. It’s also available by itself, for $1,145. We also had the Sport Design Package.

Also included was the Dual-Screen Rear Entertainment system ($1,970). Otherwise, the Luxury model already comes with just about everything you can get on the GX.

Previously known as the GX 470, since 2010 the vehicle has been called the GX 460, reflecting a change for the second generation to a 4.6-liter V-8 engine, replacing the previous 4.7-liter.

Among Lexus vehicles, this is one of two traditional sport utilities. The other is the slightly more expensive LX 570. The GX essentially is a fancier version of the Toyota 4Runner, while the LX is a higher-end version of the Toyota Land Cruiser.

The current 4Runner no longer offers a V-8 engine — it comes only with a 4.0-liter V-6 — so the GX 460 gives a V-8 option to 4Runner fans, along with more luxury. That allows for more towing capacity as well — the GX460 can pull trailers weighing up to 6,500 pounds, versus 4,700 pounds for the 4Runner.

With the base GX 460, you get NuLuxe (faux leather) trim with natural grain and Linear Espresso Wood/Abyss Black trim. Headlight washers are available (standard on the Luxury model).

Both the GX and 4Runner are built on the same architecture, but on the GX, fulltime four-wheel drive is standard. And for fans of off-road driving, the system is a true four-wheel drive, with low-range gearing available through a toggle-switch-activated transfer case for serious trail driving.

Great off-road capability has always been one of the hallmarks of four-wheel-drive equipped 4Runners and the GX, and the current GX 460 also includes some of the innovative trail-driving features of the LX 570.

As unibody crossover utility vehicles take over from traditional SUVs across the industry, the GX and LX continue as body-on-frame, truck-style SUVs.

In the Lexus lineup, the GX fits between the RX 350/450h crossovers and the LX. The RX is based on the architecture of the Toyota Highlander crossover.

Under the hood of the GX is the 4.6-liter V-8 rated at 301 horsepower and 329 foot-pounds of torque, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.

There was plenty of power in our GX tester, even on mountain roads we experienced during our test week. We did not tow any trailers with the GX, but have done so with the V-6 powered 4Runner, which does quite with a trailer towing a car behind.

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the GX 460 are 15 mpg city/18 highway/16 combined. During our test, we averaged about 16.3 mpg with mostly highway and country-road driving.

No driver input is needed for normal driving in four-wheel drive; but the driver can lock it into four-wheel-drive high or low range as conditions warrant. There is a Torsen limited-slip center differential with electronic lock.

Included is the advanced Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, designed to provide improved on-road ride and handling while keeping the vehicle’s off-road capability, Lexus says.

With the standard bench seat, the GX has room for three passengers in the middle row; the third row can accommodate two small people (think kids). The second-row bench can be moved up to 4.1 inches forward or backward to allow for longer or shorter legs in either row, or to maximize cargo space behind the second seat (with the third seat folded).

The 60/40 split second-row seat can be folded, as well, to increase cargo space, and it also can recline. The third seat has a standard power folding feature to increase cargo capacity with the seat isn’t needed for passengers — otherwise, space is quite limited behind the third row — under 10 cubic feet.

On the GX, the tailgate opens to the right side in one piece, or the glass can be flipped up separately with the rest of the tailgate still in place.

The GX is very quiet at highway speeds, allowing passengers to enjoy the entertainment system or conduct conversations in normal voices.

Standard on our vehicle were an electronically adjustable suspension with three modes — normal, sport and comfort. Crawl Control, included in the Driver Support Package, is designed for slow off-road driving over rugged terrain. It automatically modulates the throttle and brake, allowing the driver to concentrate on steering, and can help free the vehicle from sand, mud or snow.

Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control are standard on the GX 460, both designed for driving on steep hills — on or off the pavement.

Standard safety features include electronic stability control; antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; and 10 air bags, including driver and front-passenger knee and seat-mounted side air bags, as well roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for all three rows.

Among other standard GX 460 features are eight-way power-adjustable front seats; automatic climate control; steering wheel audio controls; power moon roof; a memory system for the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirrors; and an overhead console with universal garage opener.

Exterior color choices for 2019 are Starfire Pearl, Silver Lining Metallic, Nebula Gray Pearl, Nightfall Mica, Fire Agate Pearl, Black Onyx and Claret Mica. Interior colors available are Black, Sepia or Ecru. Our tester came with the Nightfall Mica exterior.

With freight and options, our 2019 GX460 Luxury model had a total sticker price of $70,840.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2019 Lexus GX 460

The package: Midsize, five-door, V-8 powered, fulltime four-wheel-drive, six- or seven-passenger luxury sport utility vehicle.

Highlights: The second generation of the Lexus truck-based midsize sport utility vehicle arrived for 2010, and it since has received some design tweaks and upgrades, including a new Lexus signature spindle grille. This vehicle offers truck ruggedness and reliability in a package that combines great off-road capability with good on-road ride and handling.

Negatives: Third seat is not roomy enough for full-size adults

Engine: 4.6-liter V-8.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 301 HP./329 foot-pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain for all three rows.

Overall length: 192.1 inches.

Curb weight: 5,305-5,340 pounds.

Cargo volume: 9.0 cubic feet (behind third seat); 47.2 cubic feet (third seat folded).

Towing capacity: 6,500 pounds.

Major competitors: Nissan Armada, Infiniti QX80, Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GL 450, Audi Q7.

Fuel capacity/type: 23 gallons/unleaded premium.

EPA fuel economy: 15 mpg city/18 highway/16 combined.

Base price range: $52,355-$63,755, plus $1,025 freight.

Price as tested: $70,840, including freight and options (2019 Luxury model).

On the Road rating: 9.2 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.