2017 Lexus GX Review

2017 Lexus GX - Solid and refined the Lexus GX 460 is happy on road or off.


The Lexus GX 460 is a traditional sport-utility vehicle that offers seating for seven-passengers and an extremely capable four-wheel-drive system. Competitors include the BMX X5, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90. The GX is similar to the Toyota Land Cruiser and shares some components with the larger Lexus LX 570.

Changes for 2017 are minimal and include the availability of second-row captain's chairs and a new Sport Design package that adds a unique grille and additional chrome exterior bits. Three trim levels are offered: Base, Premium and Luxury. All come standard with a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 301 horsepower. Also standard is a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case. Towing capacity is 6,500 pounds.

Standard safety features on the GX 460 include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, rear-view camera and dual-front, front-knee, front- and rear-seat side and side-curtain airbags. Also standard is Lexus Enform Safety Connect, which offers automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator and emergency assistance. Available safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning system and forward-collision warning.

The Base lists for $51,280, the Premium for $55,225 and the Luxury for $62,155. All models have a $975 destination charge and are built in Japan.

With "just" 301 horsepower, the 4.6-liter V8 engine found in the GX doesn't sound like much on paper. Thankfully, it's more than powerful enough when push comes to shove. The V8 will propel the 5,130-pound GX from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. That a match for most competitors. More impressive, is the engine's smoothness and the way it works with the transmission to deliver effortless power.

The four-wheel drive system is extremely sophisticated and features plenty of electronic wizardries to tackle even the toughest trail. The suspension has ample ground-clearance and the GX becomes even more capable with the available air suspension.

As you might expect EPA ratings of 15 mpg city and 18 mpg highway are unimpressive. More so because Lexus claims that the GX requires premium-grade gasoline. Real-world driving suggests that those numbers are fairly realistic. Gentile suburban commuting will likely yield about 19 mpg overall - and that's with a fair mix of tame highway driving thrown in.

The Lexus GX 460 is an old-school body-on-frame sport-utility vehicle. That design has advantages in both towing and in off-road driving. However, it can also lead to deficiencies in the ride and handling department. Thankfully, Lexus has taken the time to properly sort the suspension on the GX to provide a comfortable and secure ride. Additionally, the available adaptive suspension proves it's worth to further enhance overall ride and handling.

As you'd expect there's little impact harshness, but body lean and brake dive and nicely mitigated as well. There's no head toss either -- a trait common to body-on-frame SUVs. Conversely, the GX 460 isn't going to win any autocross events. The tall build limits overall athleticism and the steering and brakes, though both more than adequate performers are turned to suit driving needs both on and off road.

Interior noise levels are appropriately low thanks to an abundance of sound deadening material. However, there's a bit more wind noise from the side mirrors than you might expect at highway speeds.

The Lexus GX 460's interior has a business-like demeanor that places function over form. Materials are price appropriate but do fall short of some newer competitors. Most controls are clearly marked and thoughtfully placed. Drivers face two large dials flanking a square info screen. The center stack comes standard with a touch-screen that handles audio, phone and navigation controls. Most climate controls are independent and there are dials for radio volume and tuning. About the only thing missing is support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Front seats are extremely well padded and provide ample comfort on long trips. Head and leg room are good and outward visibility excellent. Second-row seats are comfortable as well and have good head room but just adequate leg room. Third-row seats are best left to children and are somewhat difficult to access.

At a maximum of just under 65 cubic feet, Cargo space is underwhelming when compared to newer crossover SUVs. Then there's the curbside opening tailgate, which makes loading more difficult. One plus is an independent-opening tailgate glass. Interior storage is just adequate with a few open and covered bins throughout.

The GX 460 is somewhat of an anachronism in today's sea of luxury crossover SUVs. It has proven off-road chops, but fails to match the smoothness and refinement found in competitors like the Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90. Additionally, the thirsty V8, while extremely smooth, doesn't have the fuel efficiency of more modern turbocharged engines.  All of that said, the GX provides a quiet and comfortable ride, a high level of convenience and safety features and mountain goat tenacity off road. As you might expect, prices for all midsize SUs are high, but in many cases appropriate. Shop around and if the GX meets your particular needs, you should be able to find dealers willing to discount.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.