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2011 Lexus GX 460 Performance

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On Performance
The 2011 Lexus GX 460 is very much a traditional SUV at heart, with a big, torquey 301-hp V-8 engine and and off-road-friendly four-wheel-drive system. 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.

Among the most noteworthy of the GX's electronic tools is the available Crawl Control, which micromanages momentum over the toughest terrain at crawl speeds between 1.0 and 3.7 mph, selectable in five increments. All the more impressive is the standard Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which hydraulically links the front and rear stabilizer bars. It serves two roles: Off-road it allows wheel articulation while helping press down on the opposing wheel to maintain contact, while on-road it aids ride quality and minimizes body roll.

The 2011 Lexus GX 460 accelerates quickly, handles well enough for the road, and boasts respectable off-road ability, but it's hardly agile.

However, on curvy roads, KDSS has a knack of leading you to believe you have more grip left than you actually do. Overall, the GX feels surprisingly comfortable on a twisty road at a moderate pace. The steering is fairly good for a vehicle like this, with no road feel and an artificial weighting off center, but you'll find yourself making plenty of small adjustments in highway crosswinds. But one of the least appealing aspects of the driving experience is the brakes—they felt spongy and difficult to modulate.

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