2015 Lexus GX 460 Performance

7.0
Performance

The 2015 Lexus GX may not be the most nimble thing on the highway, but it makes up for that with its ability to go off-road...if you're into that kind of thing.

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.

Off-road it's talented, but the Lexus GX isn't the most pleasurable SUV to drive on pavement.

It's powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 that produces 301 horsepower, and it accelerates willingly from 0-60 in only 7.8 seconds. That engine is mated to a smooth, quick-shifting six-speed automatic. Brakes are on the softer side of the spectrum, and its long-ratio steering is a constant reminder that the GX is more traditional SUV than nimble crossover.

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 ride quality is good, regardless of whether or not you spring for the adaptive suspension, though entry-level models don't seem to enjoy choppy roads quite as much as premium-grade ones.

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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