2012 Lexus GX 460 Performance

8.0
Performance

The 2012 Lexus GX 460 has traditional SUV chops—meaning that it's good for the trail, and rock-crawling—and while it performs well enough on the road, it's hardly agile

With a big, torquey 301-horsepower V-8, the GX 460 accelerates strongly—0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds—and the six-speed automatic transmission provides quick, smooth shifts.

The 2012 Lexus GX 460 has strong acceleration and respectable off-road prowess, but it's not all that agile or enjoyable to drive.

Even though the suspension helps keep it level in corners, light, long-ratio steering and a soft brake pedal enforce the idea that it's a traditional SUV at heart.

Considering the low running boards, chrome trim all around, and what could be seen as a delicate interior, you might not expect the GX 460 to be a serious rock-crawler. It's not; but it's definitely 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. There's also a low range for this tough body-on-frame ute, a host of electronic controls that will help you maintain control in various conditions, and a true center diff lock that you'd use for sand, mud, or snow.

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.

Although most of the time we like the flat cornering that KDSS allows, it has a knack of leading you to believe you have more grip left than you actually do. In any case, the GX feels surprisingly comfortable on a twisty road at a moderate pace, although there's no road feel through the steering and an artificial weighting off center. The spongy brake-pedal feel is also one of the least appealing aspects.

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