The 2018 Lexus GX 460 can take up to seven passengers on the road, off the road and back in time. In contrast to most modern luxury crossovers, which employ one-piece construction optimized for the suburbs, the luxury midsize GX is based on the same truck-like body-on-frame platform that underpins Toyota’s 4Runner SUV, emphasizing off-road performance, like every SUV used to do.
It is, therefore, reassuringly old-school. This is a tough, go-anywhere kind of vehicle, featuring standard all-wheel drive with a dual-range transfer case.
Naturally, the GX also feels civilized. Thanks to a soft suspension, fancy features and standard 3-row seating, it can function as a high-end family vehicle. It’s perhaps surprising Lexus didn’t use richer interior materials throughout this costly conveyance, but the smooth V8 engine provides some consolation. Don’t expect precision handling in corners, though. The GX is happiest when pointed straight ahead.
What’s New for 2018?
Semi-aniline leather (a special leather that goes through a particular dyeing process) now covers the bench seat of the Luxury model. And captain’s chairs for the second row are now part of the Luxury model’s optional Sport Design package. See the 2018 Lexus GX models for sale near you
What We Like
Off-road-appropriate hardware; compliant ride; standard 3-row seating; plenty of luxury and technology features
What We Don’t
Uncomfortable seats in the second and third rows; cumbersome on-road handling; unremarkable interior quality; low fuel economy
The GX 460 has a 4.6-liter V8 engine making 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A standard full-time all-wheel-drive system includes a dual-range transfer case for proper off-road use.
Fuel economy is estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 15 miles per gallon in the city, 18 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg in combined driving.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Lexus GX 460 premium midsize SUV comes in base and Luxury trim levels.
The base GX 460 ($53,150) includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, roof rails, LED low-beam headlights, keyless entry with push-button ignition, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel with automatic tilt-away, 10-way power front seats with driver’s-side memory, synthetic leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, electro-luminescent gauges, a rearview camera, slide/recline second-row seats, a trip computer with a 4.2-in display, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 120-volt outlet in the cargo area, Bluetooth (for both phone and audio), Siri Eyes Free voice command functionality and a 9-speaker audio system with an 8-in touchscreen, a 6-CD changer, two USB ports, satellite radio and HD Radio.
A Premium package adds high-gloss 18-in wheels, LED fog lights, mahogany interior trim, perforated genuine leather upholstery, heated/cooled front seats, heated second-row outer seats, tri-zone climate control with a smog sensor, a wood/leather steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors front and rear, voice controls, enhanced Bluetooth and the further option of captain’s chairs in the second row. This bundle also has 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 assign a smartphone for this purpose with the downloadable Enform mobile app.
The Luxury ($64,525) includes all the above, plus an adaptive air suspension, headlamp washers, power-folding/self-dimming exterior mirrors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, semi-aniline leather upholstery, a power-folding third-row seat and a cargo area tonneau cover.
The Sport Design package comes with its own design of 18-in alloy wheels and a chrome exhaust tailpipe tip, redesigned side mirror housings, second-row captain’s chairs and bespoke front and rear bumpers.
The Luxury model is also eligible for a 330-watt/17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, a dual-screen rear entertainment system and wide-view front and side parking cameras.
Additional options include dynamic cruise control, lane-departure alert and Crawl Control for automated low-speed off-roading.
Cargo capacity measures 11.6 cu ft. behind the third-row seats. Power-fold that row into the floor for a more reasonable 36.5 cu ft. With the second-row seats folded down, the GX can haul a healthy 64.7 cu ft. However, the unusual tailgate is hinged on the passenger side, so it opens toward the curb on American roads. Not the most convenient design for curbside loading, but it does have a flip-up window.
The GX 460 comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel antilock 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 summon help if the unexpected occurs.
No agencies within the United States have performed crash tests on the GX to date.
Behind the Wheel
The interior frankly lacks the top-quality materials that have become a Lexus hallmark over the years. In particular, the dashboard doesn’t look or feel like it belongs in a vehicle that costs more than $50,000. Still, everything seems put together well, and the electroluminescent gauges serve as a reminder that this is more than just a fancy Toyota. Also, while the central control panel has many buttons, they’re clearly marked in large white lettering, so there are no ergonomic missteps.
The standard third-row seat is mounted low, so longer-legged passengers will likely have their knees in their faces. The second row isn’t particularly supportive or comfortable, either. For anyone planning to use more than two rows on a regular basis, purpose-built people carriers such as minivans or the Ford Flex with EcoBoost could be a better choice.
On the move, the GX 460 is a mixed bag. Its tall, slim build works well for tight off-road trails, but also makes the GX feel a bit claustrophobic. 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 soft ride and excellent noise suppression create a pleasant cruising experience. Potholes are often barely noticeable thanks to the long-haul, off-road-ready suspension.
Acceleration is adequate, although it’s unusual to see a V8 these days with such a low power rating; you’ll feel the lack of juice at higher speeds. 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 truck-like SUV standards.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Acura MDX — Good equipment levels for the money, great on-road manners.
2018 BMW X5 — With superior handling and an optional 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.
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport — For something more up to date and stylish, yet still luxurious and capable, this fits the bill. Third-row occupant space is not quite as generous as in the GX, though.
Assuming you’re really serious about the GX, even though there are more modern rivals, go for the Luxury trim. That’s because it’s eligible for the Mark Levinson audio system upgrade, and its adaptive suspension improves ground clearance over the base model, just in case there’s some off-roading to be done.