If big, capable luxury SUVs are your thing, the 2016 Lexus GX 460 is likely at the top of your shopping list. In keeping with the brand’s reputation for long-lasting, high-quality vehicles, Lexus gives the family on the go exactly what they’re looking for, including off-road credibility. We are impressed with the level of comfort for first- and second-row passengers provided by the GX, but the third row lacks in functionality. Also, the technology and overall user experience are outdated when compared with that of other vehicles in this segment.
The second-generation Lexus GX 460 was launched in 2010 and refreshed in 2014. We get three trims for 2016: base, Premium and Luxury. Features added for 2016 include a Sepia NuLuxe trim, available Lexus Enform Service Connect and Lexus Enform Remote. This body-on-frame SUV seats seven, rides like a dream and offers available features such as an adaptive suspension system. A powerful V8 helps the Lexus GX 460 get the job done and offers 6,500 pounds of trailer-towing capacity. The Lexus GX 460 may look sleek on the streets, but it also keeps its cool off the beaten path with legitimate four-wheel-drive capabilities. All of this comes with the durability and longevity the Lexus brand is known for.
Carefully selected exterior-design updates bring the Lexus GX 460 into 2016 in a way that isn’t likely to alienate its traditional buyer base. The GX gets the least-offensive spindle grille (a design that gives the nose an hourglass shape with sharp cut-ins and harsh angles) of all vehicles currently in the Lexus lineup. The design has been controversial since its initial introduction, but for a brand known for playing it safe in the design realm, Lexus has stepped out boldly to attract younger buyers.
Walking around the vehicle, the angles decrease and the traditional GX shape remains recognizable. This vehicle has not been updated as drastically as its smaller Lexus RX and NX siblings. This is understandable, since these changes would likely result in big reductions in third-row roominess and cargo storage.
All GX 460s come with 18-inch wheels and a well-proportioned power moonroof. Premium models add rain-sensing wipers, LED fog lamps and windshield wiper deicers. Our top-of-the-line Luxury model featured all these amenities plus headlamp washers and a cargo-area tonneau cover.
Lexus gets pinged here, however, for a swinging tailgate door that’s hinged on the wrong side. The vehicle is built in Japan where drivers pilot highways on the left side of the road, and Lexus has not mounted its hinge on the side that would make most sense for U.S. consumers. If you are parking the GX 460 curbside, you will need to do so on the left side of the street. Otherwise, loading gear into the back is nearly impossible, especially if parallel parked.
Stepping inside this Lexus, you will find a spacious, comfortable cabin for the first four or five passengers. Materials are high end where they need to be, and you’ll enjoy a heated mahogany steering wheel, semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats, heated and ventilated 10-way power front seats, heated second-row seats and an 8-inch touch screen with navigation.
The second row reclines and slides 5.3 inches to better accommodate people riding in the back. Despite this, the third row is difficult to access. It also doesn’t offer enough room to comfortably seat adults.
Build quality is nothing short of the Lexus standard: the doors sound solid when shutting, the cabin remains quiet over highways and city streets alike, and the buttons and knobs feel durable.
The driving position is unique in that Lexus seats you high above the vehicle’s beltline, making visibility out the windows and from far corners reminiscent of what you’ll get with an SUV from the 1990s. The second row of seats is arguably more comfortable than the driver’s seat, so we give Lexus a big thumbs-up for that.
You can fold down both second and third rows to make room for larger cargo. With all seats in place, cargo capacity is 11.6 cubic feet, but maximum cargo capacity is 64.7 cubes. It is worth noting, however, that the second and third rows do not lay flat at the same level, which could pose some challenges in loading larger items such as furniture.
The GX 460 comes standard with a 4.6-liter V8 that generates 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque. That engine gets mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and the combination helps the GX 460 tow up to 6,500 pounds. Lexus gives GX 460 owners full-time four-wheel drive.
The most surprising aspect of this vehicle is its low fuel economy figures. The 2016 Lexus GX 460 gets just 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, likely due to its weight and full-time four-wheel drive.
While a large vehicle, the GX handles nicely in both city and suburban driving. Despite its height, this Lexus is not wobbly. We felt comfortable driving in various conditions, whether on highway stretches or on city streets. Lexus provides several drive settings to facilitate off-road adventures.
Lexus has chosen to focus its technology on safety connectivity rather than on updating social media statuses. While the offerings are not cutting-edge, Lexus makes them simple and straightforward to use.
New for 2016, Lexus owners get a one-year subscription to the company’s Enform Service Connect that provides access to maintenance alerts and vehicle health reports. For additional remote access to the GX 460, owners can subscribe to Lexus Enform Remote, which uses a mobile app for Apple and Android devices to enable features such as vehicle location services and remote locking and unlocking of doors.
If buyers opt for the navigation system, they’ll also receive a suite of free apps as part of the Lexus Enform Destinations, and these apps facilitate voice-activated searches for anything from directions to dinner reservations.
The 2016 Lexus GX 460 comes standard with a nine-speaker premium sound system that connects easily to your iPod or other USB-enabled device. Stream your personal music collection and go hands-free by connecting to the in-car Bluetooth.
Standard safety equipment on the 2016 GX 460 includes 10 air bags, active front headrests, antilock brakes, stability control, a rearview camera and a tire pressure monitoring system. Lexus’ Safety Connect telematics system is also included on the base model.
Available driver assistance features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and a forward collision warning system.
The base Lexus GX 460 starts at $50,780 while the GX 460 Luxury commands a base price of $62,155. Our test GX topped out close to $70,000 with additional optional features such as dual-headrest entertainment for second-row passengers.
The 2016 Lexus GX 460 is an SUV with serious road presence. Its plush seats will please at least the first five passengers, while its suspension kit will give everyone a smooth ride. Add in a sunroof that stretches from the front seats to the third row, and an already large cabin feels even more spacious. The GX 460’s only strikes are difficult-to-access and uncomfortable third-row seats, and technology that could be more seamless and modern for younger buyers.
Those who are Lexus die-hards will undoubtedly be looking to buy this for their families. It’s worth considering other options, such as the Infiniti QX80, GMC Yukon Denali, Chevrolet Tahoe and Mercedes-Benz GLS. All of these rivals are strong choices, but the GX has the brand’s track record of reliability working in its favor.