2011 Lexus GX Review

2011 Lexus GX - The mighty giant.


This could have been a very different review. I typically dislike large SUVs. And those reviews usually begin with words such as behemoth, gargantuan, super-sized or, in one instance, a likeness to Grape Ape.

And, while any one of those could apply (well except the last one -- the test car wasn't purple), I'm going to start with: Thank goodness I got the Lexus GX 460 when I did.

About an hour later, it started to snow. And snow. And snow.

Well, with a car like the all-wheel drive GX, all I have to say is: Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow. Just get out of my way with your bad driving habits, bald tires and rear-wheel drive vehicles. I have places to go, and I can get there in the GX.

The trek home was smooth sailing with nary a slip or skid. I was able to conquer the unplowed highways as well as snow drifts in my alley. Without a single white-knuckle moment.

Now I'm not going to tell you that the GX is a nimble vehicle perfect for single people living in urban environments. But I will tell you, I managed to get an overall fuel economy rating of 17 mpg in combined driving when the EPA estimates you should get 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. I'll also tell you the running boards and rear camera were key.  

The GX comes equipped with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine, which offers a nice bit of grunt at 301 horsepower. While this was nice for the majority of my driving, I do have to admit that I would have liked a little more oomph in the passing gears. There was one time specifically when I was trying to get around a vehicle, and I felt like I was wading in quicksand.

The sheer size of this vehicle was both a plus and a minus during the test week. I loved the fact that I could see over everything as well as drive over all that snow. But hiking in and out of the car was a chore in a skirt and high heels -- even with the running board. And clearing off those windows and scraping snow off the roof? Fahgetaboudit.

To make the vehicle drivable the day after the snow storm, which was followed by freezing rain, I found myself standing with a foot on the floor and a foot on the driver's seat, propping myself against the open door and scrapping clumsily at the ice on the windshield. All while wearing (you guessed it) a skirt and high heels.

I know. I could have planned a little better.

Overall, though, I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to get a decent driving position. My one complaint is that when I pushed the seat all the way forward and as high as it would go, my right leg had very little room to maneuver because it was rubbing up against the underbelly of the dash. Adjustable pedals might just come in handy here.

The interior was nicely appointed and comfortable, but because the test car was a Premium model, most of the finishing touches weren't base. The Premium interior features included a wood and leather trimmed heated steering wheel, heated middle row outboard seats and illuminated door sills. While the wood finishes were nice, the one thing that cheapened the whole interior was the gray plastic panel that covered the CD slot and extra audio controls.

The GX comes standard with a third-row seat that folds flat for those days when you'd prefer to haul cargo over people. Plus, the test vehicle added the optional cargo net ($64), which kept things from rolling around while driving.

I really liked the optional navigation system ($3,930), which included nav traffic and voice commands. The voice commands actually worked pretty well (only one mishap where it mistook "Chicago" for "Seneca"), and were really handy when traffic was bad and I was looking for the re-route.  While the navigation did cost a pretty penny, I'd say if you're going to spend $57K on a car, you may as well throw in the whole kit and kaboodle.

The other option on the test vehicle was the Advanced Pre-Collision System ($2,670). This included a driver attention monitor as well as lane departure alert and crawl control. All nice features to have -- and they all worked beautifully.

The exterior styling of the GX isn't terribly inspired. It's big. It's blocky. It's a large SUV. As a Premium model, exterior extras included headlamp cleaners, power folding outside mirrors and an adaptive variable suspension.

Base price for the base GX is $53.045. The Premium model ups the ante to $57,840, and the test vehicle, with options and destination, had a final price of $64,679 -- definitely not for the frugal among us.

Jill Ciminillo

Jill has been writing about cars for more than 15 years, representing the female point of view amongst her predominantly male colleagues. And since something like 80 percent of all car-buying decisions are either made by or influenced by women, that's nothing to sneeze at. Formerly the online automotive editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, the print auto editor for Pioneer Press Newspapers and the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, this 5th percentile (aka petite) female tells it like it is from the fun to the functional. Jill recently served as the first female president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and currently sits on its Board of Directors as President Emeritus. Jill is a syndicated automotive writer and acts as the managing editor for the Pickup Truck + SUV Talk website.