- Smooth, strong powertrain
- Good ride quality
- Useful off-road electronics
- Tall cargo floor
- Not much space behind third row
- Hatch opens to the wrong side for curb loading
The 2011 Lexus GX 470 is refined, comfortable, and ready for off-roading or towing; cargo versatility is sorely lacking compared to other SUVs, though.
The Lexus GX 460 is closely related to the Toyota 4Runner, and fits into the Lexus lineup just below the Land Cruiser–related LX 570. But while the 4Runner sticks with V-6 engines and simpler features and appointments, a strong V-8 engine, power-folding third-row seats, plus a host of luxury and technology options—and of course Lexus levels of refinement—help differentiate the GX.
The 2011 GX 460 is by no means extroverted or flashy; rather, with its redesign last year, designers blended the gentle, organic, and aerodynamic styling of recent Lexus L-Finesse designs with a "machined steel bar" theme, giving it a more sculpted, solid (but simple and straightforward) look that separates it from the cars and crossovers. Alongside, the GX looks the most 'trucky,' because of its carved-out fenders and very tall, imposing beltline.
With a big, torquey 301-hp V-8 engine and and off-road-friendly four-wheel-drive system, the 2011 Lexus GX 460 is definitely a traditional SUV at heart. The combination, with a six-speed automatic transmission, brings strong acceleration and quick, smooth shifts—although you do hear the engine a fair amount inside when accelerating. Lexus says it can get to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.
Even though the GX 460's low running boards wouldn't suit serious rock-crawling, it's more than another off-road poseur. The full-time four-wheel drive system includes a Torsen center differential and distributes power 60 percent to the rear wheels in normal driving, with more sent to the rear wheels during acceleration. This body-on-frame ute has a low range, plus a center diff lock that might be of use for sand, mud, or snow, while a host of electronic controls help you maintain control and moderate speed while getting off-roading.
Those who are accustomed to truck-based SUVs will feel right at home in the 2011 Lexus GX 460. There's a nice, high seating position in front—so much so that at least looking ahead and to the side you don't feel that the beltline is so tall—and the front seats and driving position in the GX 460 remind us why so many drivers were won over by SUVs in the past decade. Seating in the GX 460 is superb in front, with nicely padded seats affording plenty of support plus good headroom and legroom and a general feeling of spaciousness. The second row is very roomy, too, and the third-row is power-folding—actually a drawback for cargo space as they can't be removed. The side-opening rear hatch—and opening to the wrong side for easy curb loading—will be a glaring flaw to many shoppers.
The look and feel of the interior appointments in the GX 460, overall, is top-notch, and road and wind noise are remarkably absent from the GX cabin, though you do hear the V-8 whenever accelerating, even lightly, and more than expected for a luxury vehicle. There's definitely more side head-toss in the GX compared to car-based crossover models, but otherwise ride quality is excellent; Premium-grade models also get an Adaptive Variable Suspension that allows Sport, Normal, and Comfort modes, but in either case ride quality is quite good.
The 2011 Lexus GX 460 is lavishly equipped but delightfully uncomplicated with respect to features: It comes with nearly all the traditional luxury and comfort features standard. You'll only need to opt up—especially on the Premium Grade model—for the rich technology, entertainment, and information features, like 330-watt Mark Levinson surround sound, a rear seat entertainment system, Intuitive Park Assist, and the aforementioned safety-tech package.