Review update: 2020 Lexus GX 460 SUV carries a decade of baggage

June 19, 2020

The Lexus GX 460 is a luxury paradox. The three-row SUV is rugged, capable, and loaded with luxury features, yet it’s loud, inefficient, drives like a truck, and has some odd packaging.

The current GX 460 was introduced a decade ago, and has since received a few updates over time to remain competitive in terms of safety features. Competitors such as the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Land Rover Discovery, and Jeep Grand Cherokee have moved past it in terms of technology and driving dynamics.

The 2020 Lexus GX 460 has a TCC Rating of 5.0 out of 10. It won my heart with off-road capability, a smooth V-8 engine, and great outward vision but it gave me heartburn with mediocre fuel economy, a weird tailgate, an absurd third row, truck-like handling, and looks that could paralyze oncoming traffic.

I spent some time with the 2020 Lexus GX 460 hauling the kids around town, running to Home Depot, and trucking up north to the family cottage. Here’s where it hit and where it missed.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Hit: What a V-8

The 4.6-liter V-8 powering the GX 460 is one of the smoothest V-8s money can buy. It’s related to the V-8 in the last-gen Lexus LS flagship sedan. In the GX it makes 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque and is hooked to an ancient, yet durable, 6-speed automatic transmission. Upon starting the GX the 4.6-liter V-8’s intake gulped air into the engine with a roar, and it was even louder upon cold start. Even cold, the V-8 maintained that smooth as butter feel with no clatter, no valve noise, no ticking. It’s worthy of the Lexus badge.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Miss: It drinks, a lot

That 4.6-liter V-8 is bewilderingly smooth, but it’s not efficient. The EPA ratings for the 2020 GX 460 are 15 mpg city, 19 highway, and 16 combined. I saw about 14.5 mpg in mixed 50/50 driving around the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over the course of about 400 miles of interstate and highway driving, my GX tester averaged just over 18 mpg. A mere 18.5 mpg was the best the GX could muster for me, which pales to the V-8-powered Grand Cherokee’s 14/22/17 mpg or the 17/22/19 mpg in the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Hit and Miss: That infotainment system

Step inside the GX 460 and it’s like stepping back in time. There are buttons, knobs, and switches everywhere on the dashboard. Yet, the most outdated Lexus on the market might have the best infotainment system in the automaker’s lineup, but that’s not saying much.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen was safer and less clunky to use than the mouse or touchpad setup in other Lexus models.

Unfortunately, the system looks as if it were introduced a decade ago, because it was. The interface graphics looks dated. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto capability. Perhaps the worst offender is the screen resolution, which would be shamed if sitting next to the 8.4-inch touchscreen found in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Hit: Plush and spacious interior

Though it can seat seven, my tester with the available second-row captain’s chairs seated six, and it made comfy even comfier. The front seats were supportive and offered an upright seating position like a dining room chair. The front and second-row seats were comfortable, supportive, and there was plenty of knee, leg, and headroom.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Miss: That’s not a third row

Lexus gets points for creative packaging of the third row. The seat bottoms fold flat into the floor, then pop out on nifty mechanisms when a lever is pulled. Nifty did not mean easy, however. It was a multi-step process compared to most push-button setups and a giant pain in the tuchus to set up. To put a human in the third row was a punishment, even for my kids. There was next to no leg or foot room, and despite the ability to get into the third row from both sides of the GX, it was hard to access. Consider it a third-row jump seat at best that removes all usable cargo space.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Hit: Oh, it’s capable

In an era of crossover SUVs masquerading around with macho muscle over car-like bones, it’s nice to see an SUV be, well, an SUV. The GX 460 is a body-on-frame SUV, which means it’s body is bolted onto its truck-like frame. It has full-time four-wheel drive, Torsen limited-slip electronically locking differential, and a two-speed transfer case that provides low

-range gearing for off-road adventures. For those interested in other kinds of weekend adventures, the GX 460 tows up to 6,500 pounds.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Miss: Awkward tailgate

The side-hinged rear tailgate swings out to the right to the curb instead of up to the sky. It is the worst kind of proof the GX 460 wasn’t developed or designed for the U.S. market. Outside the U.S. the Lexus GX 460 is the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (don’t be confused, it’s not the same thing as the Toyota Land Cruiser sold in the U.S.). The gate was awkward, the door too large, and it forced me to step towards traffic while unloading and then around the door. To its credit the GX retains the ability for the rear tailgate glass to flip up independently of the door being open. That’s a feature that the Jeep Grand Cherokee lost after 2013.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Miss: Looks that could kill

The Lexus spindle grille was grafted onto the front of the GX over the years and for 2020 it gets worse. The simple horizontal grille bars have been replaced with what appear to be small Ls—yes, like the Lexus logo—and it’s a pain to clean. Look at the GX dead-on and it’s, well, not pretty. At best it’s polarizing. It’s aggressive, but in this case, not in an attractive way.

2020 Lexus GX 460

2020 Lexus GX 460

Miss: All about that bass

The base sound system in the GX is a 9-speaker setup and it’s simply not good. It’s not as bad as Honda’s 4-speaker system, but the bass booms constantly. Turning the bass down in the settings helps, but for some reason it’s tuned with far too much bass. You’re going to want the available 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system for a better listening experience.

I appreciated the 2020 Lexus GX 460’s capabilities, its comfortable interior, and silky-smooth V-8 engine, but it did not age well, the third row was a nuisance, and its front end was as polarizing as the current political situation in the U.S.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
2020 Lexus GX 460
Base price: $54,025
Price as tested: $57,880
EPA fuel economy: 15/19/16 mpg
The hits: Smooth V-8, comfortable interior, touchscreen infotainment system, capability
The misses: Not efficient, polarizing front end, dated infotainment system, weird tailgate, useless third row.

2021
The Car Connection
See the nominees and vote »
2020
The Car Connection
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from The Car Connection. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.