The 2013 Lexus GX 460 is an analog girl in a digital world. Based on the same body-on-frame platform that underpins Toyota's 4Runner and FJ Cruiser SUVs, the GX 460 prioritizes off-road performance, just as every SUV used to do. Featuring tough, trucklike construction and standard 4-wheel drive with a dual-range transfer case, the GX is a go-anywhere vehicle. But that puts it in stark contrast to modern luxury SUVs, which generally employ unibody platforms optimized for shopping malls and suburban driveways.
Of course, Lexus has made sure the GX feels at home in civilization, too. Thanks to a soft suspension, a slew of fancy features and standard 3-row seating, the GX can certainly play the part of a high-end family vehicle. We're surprised Lexus didn't use richer interior materials in this expensive SUV, but the mellifluous V8 engine provides some consolation.
Interested in the 2013 Lexus GX 460? Here's what you need to know. ...
What's New for 2013
The GX 460 is unchanged for 2013.
What We Like
Off-road-ready hardware; compliant ride; standard 3-row seating; plenty of luxury and technology features
What We Don't
Uncomfortable second- and third-row seats; poor on-road handling; unremarkable interior quality; low fuel economy
The rear-drive-based GX 460 comes with standard dual-range 4-wheel drive and a 4.6-liter V8 engine rated at 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque.
Fuel economy is a predictably underwhelming 15 mile per gallon city/20 mpg hwy.
Options and Standard Features
The 2013 Lexus GX 460 comes in two trim levels: base and Premium. Both trims feature a power-folding third-row seat.
The base GX 460 ($54,690) includes 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, keyless entry with push-button ignition, wood grain interior trim, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, 10-way power front seats with heating and cooling functions, leather upholstery, driver memory functions, electroluminescent gauges, a rearview camera, a trip computer with a 4.2-in display, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and a 9-speaker audio system with a 6-CD changer, satellite radio and iPod/USB connectivity.
The Premium ($59,485) adds niceties such as high-gloss 18-in alloys, adaptive xenon headlights, power-folding exterior mirrors, semi-aniline perforated leather upholstery, heated second-row seats, tri-zone climate control with a smog sensor and a heated steering wheel with wood inserts.
Some of the Premium's features are optional on the base GX 460. Optional on both models are a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a hard-drive-based navigation system that features Lexus Enform, which lets you either plan trips from home using a Lexus-exclusive online search called eDestination or leverage your smartphone for this purpose with the downloadable Enform mobile app. The navigation system gets a touchscreen interface instead of the Remote Touch mouse-like controller offered in most other Lexus models.
The Premium gets a few exclusive options, including dynamic cruise control, crawl control for better off-road performance and a front-view camera system that uses two cameras (one in the grille and one in the passenger-side mirror housing) to aid front and side visibility when parking.
In usability testing, we found that the GX's standard third-row seat is mounted low, so longer-legged passengers will likely be resting their chins on their knees. The second row isn't particularly supportive or comfortable, either. If you plan to use more than two rows regularly, we recommend purpose-built people-carriers such as minivans or the Ford Flex with EcoBoost.
Cargo capacity in the GX measures just 11.6 cu ft behind the third-row seat. Power-fold that seat into the floor and you've got a more reasonable 36.5 cu ft. With the second-row seat backs folded down, the GX can haul a healthy 91.9 cu ft. However, the GX's unusual cargo door is hinged on the passenger side, which means it opens toward the curb on American roads -- not the most convenient design for curbside loading.
The 2013 Lexus GX 460 comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and 10 airbags (front, front side, front knee, rear side and full-length side curtain). All models include Safety Connect, which uses the same 24-hour response center as the Enform system to get you the help you need if the unexpected occurs.
Crash tests have not been performed on the GX.
Behind the Wheel
The GX's interior frankly lacks the top-quality materials we've come to expect from Lexus over the years. In particular, the dashboard doesn't look or feel like it belongs in a vehicle costing more than $50,000. Still, everything seems screwed together reasonably well, and Lexus's trademark electroluminescent gauges are a reminder this is more than just a Toyota. Also, while the GX 460's central control panel has a lot of buttons, they're clearly marked in large white type, so there are no ergonomic snafus to report.
On the road, the GX 460 is a mixed bag. Its tall, slim build may work well for tight off-road trails, but it also makes the GX feel claustrophobic, as if it hasn't yet expanded to its full width. That feeling doesn't inspire confidence in corners, where the GX could hardly be more out of its element. In a straight line, however, the GX's soft ride and excellent noise suppression make for a pleasant cruising experience. Potholes are often barely noticeable thanks to the long-travel, off-road-ready suspension.
Acceleration from the mandatory V8 is adequate, even though it's unusual to see a V8 these days with such a low horsepower rating. The GX can tow up to 6,500 pounds with the optional trailer hitch, which is more than car-based crossover SUVs can handle but not that much by truckish SUV standards.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi Q7 -- With its standard 3-row seating and premium ambiance, the Q7 is a natural GX foe.
BMW X5 -- Boasting superior handling along with an available third row, the X5 is the driver's SUV in this class, but don't even think about it if you're the off-roading type.
Land Rover LR4 -- The surprisingly affordable LR4 impresses with its sumptuous interior, muscular V8 and adult-friendly 3-row seating. Off-road performance is naturally beyond reproach.
The GX's technology options are among its most appealing features, so we'd suggest going for the top-of-the-line Premium. The cool front-view camera system alone is arguably worth the price of admission.