Evaluated separately, the 2018 Lexus GX 460 will probably impress you with its luxury-lined cabin, expansive features and smooth on-road ride. The issue is that it has a rather dated design with diminishing appeal. In comparison, virtually every one of the GX 460’s three-row luxury SUV rivals gives superior driving manners, interior space, power and fuel economy. They have even more features and are even more comfortable.
Of course, there are still many other things to like about the GX 460, including its rugged, trucklike construction, commanding driving position, and the latest and greatest off-roading hardware Lexus has to give. It should be able to take you wherever you want to go. Unfortunately, the aggressive new Lexus styling given to the GX a few years ago took its toll on its approach angle and ground clearance.
As a result of this, the GX has less clearance than a Volvo XC90 — a car that otherwise has nowhere near the GX’s four-wheel-drive capabilities. At the same time, its trucklike construction greatly reduces its interior space and cargo-carrying versatility. The GX even retains an old-school swing-out tailgate that opens toward the curb.
In the end, there’s just not enough to the 2018 Lexus GX 460 to demand a recommendation. It’s compromised no matter how you look at it.
What is new
There are only a few minor changes in the offered features for the 2018 Lexus GX 460.
If you are seriously considering the GX 460, you probably want to venture off-road in it. But if that’s the situation, you’ll want the added ground clearance the Luxury trim’s adaptive air suspension gives. Without it, the GX 460’s ground clearance is worse than some crossovers.
Trim levels & features
The 2018 Lexus GX 460 is a large three-row SUV using traditional body-on-frame construction. It seats seven people standard. Offered second-row captain’s chairs lower capacity to six. There are baseand Luxury trim levels offered. Both come with a 4.6-liter V8 engine (301 horsepower, 329 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
Standard equipment on the base trim is inclusive of 18-inch wheels, a full-size spare tire, LED headlights, running boards, a flip-up rear window within the swing-out tailgate, roof rails, Lexus’ Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (improves off-road traction), a sunroof, a rearview camera, and keyless ignition and entry.
Inside, you’ll discover dual-zone automatic climate control, simulated leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering column, a 40/20/40-split second-row seat (sliding, reclining, folding) and a 50/50-split folding third-row seat. Infotainment features include Lexus Enform emergency and remote car services, an 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite and HD radio.
Stand-alone options include a blind-spot monitoring system (with rear cross-traffic alert), LED foglights, automatic wipers, a windshield de-icer, heated and ventilated front seats and a navigation system. The Premium package bundles most of those stand-alone options (minus blind-spot monitoring) and further adds parking sensors, heated second-row seats, leather upholstery and three-zone climate control. You can equally add second-row captain’s chairs.
The GX 460 Luxury lands with all of the above as standard plus an adaptive and auto-leveling suspension, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, headlight washers, a heated wood-trimmed steering wheel, a rear cargo cover, the second-row captain’s chairs and upgraded leather upholstery.
Only the Luxury model can be enhanced with a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a two-screen rear seat entertainment system, and the Driver Support package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic braking, front- and side-view cameras, a driver inattention monitoring system, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, crawl control (an off-road, low-speed cruise control system) and the Mark Levinson sound system.
The Sport Design package includes special styling elements to the Premium or Luxury models.
Each car typically lands in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Lexus GX 460 (4.6L V8 | 6-speed automatic | 4WD).
Overall3.5 / 5.0
3.0 / 5.0
4.0 / 5.0
4.5 / 5.0
3.0 / 5.0
3.0 / 5.0
The GX 460 has much going for it but stumbles in key areas. Its transmission and gas pedal calibration get in the way of the willing V8. The suspension system offers it nimble handling, but the steering is lifeless and numb. And its impressive off-road hardware is foiled by low-slung bodywork.
The GX 460’s 4.6-liter V8 has only 301 horsepower but is energetic enough to propel it from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. In normal use, though, the GX can feel lethargic given its heavy curb weight and economy-minded throttle pedal and transmission calibration.
Brakes feel reliable and responsive in everyday use. The pedal travel is a bit long, but not in an excessive way — it feels right. Our test sample stopped in a respectable 124 feet in our 60-mph panic stop test.
You do not have to turn the wheel much when parking and it’ll make a tighter U-turn than you’d guess. The effort is neither too light not too heavy. Good at resisting crosswinds, too. But the response is dull and the feel is nonexistent — it’s as if your fingertips have gone to sleep.
The GX lands with a clever suspension system that provides flat cornering on mountain roads yet automatically switches off to give excellent articulation when off-road. The result is a very nimble SUV for its size and height. No tippiness or stomach upset on the road to the lake with this one.
The GX’s transmission shifts very smoothly, which gives this SUV a refined demeanor. But the throttle pedal and transmission seem to play dumb when you want to accelerate smartly; it requires more pedal force than it should to accelerate and even more to trigger a downshift.
It’s quiet, the climate control system will please everyone, and the ride isn’t liable to get your tummy rumbling. But make sure you test-sit those seats before you sign on the dotted line. Everyone is different in this regard, but we found it hard to get past the plank-like seat bottoms.
Seats offer good lateral support and look comfy, but the leather seat bottoms and seatbacks feel flat and unyielding. A staffer who took it on a long road trip was uncomfortable within 10 minutes. The middle-row seats are flat and shapeless, apparently designed to fold rather than provide comfort.
The GX 460 is generally smooth and airy without being floaty or buoyant. But ripples and patches in the asphalt often create a mild jostling motion and head toss, as if elements of the suspension are too taut and won’t let the system relax.
noise & vibration
Extremely quiet on all fronts — there’s little wind, road or engine noise. It’s a nice quiet backdrop whether you’re having a conversation or listening to the high-end stereo.
Controls are simple and easy to figure out at a glance. The vents are good-sized, and the fan doesn’t make much racket. And all three rows have their own vents, with separate controls found in the middle row. Front heated and ventilated seats and heated rear seats offer multiple settings.
The Lexus GX looks good inside, and the layout is pleasing and easy to operate. There’s generally a good deal of space, and the driving position is easy to set to your liking. The high seating position offers a commanding view of the road, but makes the step up higher than in newer crossover SUVs.
ease of use
This Lexus lacks the brand’s Remote Touch infotainment interface, and the GX is the better for it. All the control knobs, buttons and stalks are easy to identify, learn and use, and that even heads for the entertainment and navigation interface.
getting in/getting out
The GX is a bit tall since it’s a body-on-frame SUV, but it’s not too bad. It comes with features that offset its height: integrated side steps and TWO interior grab handles at each door. The doors open wide, too. Third-row access is tight but in line with the segment; the captain’s chairs help.
The seats have numerous adjustments and, unlike in many Toyota/Lexus products, the wheel has a decent telescoping range. But the left footrest platform feels a bit close. Our test drivers changed their position more than usual to relieve discomfort from the seat bottoms (see Comfort section).
Plenty of leg- and headroom up front. Middle-row headroom is generous, and legroom is fine if the driver is shorter than 6-foot-3, but the rear doors crowd your elbows. The third row is tight, but it’s larger than expected. The back is best for kids and short trips only.
Surprisingly good visibility all around because of the generous glass area, low doorsills, good-sized mirrors and a large camera screen. The headlights offer impressive clarity and coverage whether you’re on low beams or high. Optional front and rear proximity sonar aids parking in tight quarters.
The interior areas of the GX are pleasing to look at, with an impressive mix of rich materials and textures. It looks well-built and durable, too.