- Towing ability
- Good front seats, driving position
- Useful off-road electronics
- Smooth V-8
- Side-opening hatch opens away from the curb
- Too-light steering
- Poor gas mileage
- Spongy brake pedal feel
- Disappointing, high cargo floor
The 2016 Lexus GX offers off-road prowess that few buyers really need, but it is comfortable inside and on the road.
The 2016 Lexus GX 460, slotted below the full-size Lexus LX 570, is built on the same platform as the foreign-market Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. It is related to the Toyota 4Runner, but the GX gets the more powerful V-8 engine in lieu of the 4Runner's V-6. The GX also delivers on the Lexus promise for luxurious interior refinement, modern technologies and elegant exterior styling—none of which are typically found on truck-based SUVs.
The GX 460 has become an increasingly hard sell. Even as gas prices have continued to trend down, Americans continue to gravitate to more road-bound crossovers with better fuel economy rather than "tough truck" off-roaders like the GX 460. That said, this rugged Lexus offers a luxurious cabin for family-hauling, as well as a full-fledged off-roading four-wheel-drive system for weekend warriors.
With its 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. In that, you'd be right, but it's also definitely more than another off-road poseur. This tough body-on-frame 'ute has low-range gearing, as well as a host of electronic aids that will help you maintain control in various conditions, and a true center differential lock that you'd use for sand, mud, or snow. The full-time four-wheel drive system includes a Torsen center differential, distributing power 60 percent to the rear wheels in normal driving, with more sent to the rear wheels during acceleration (not just when a wheel slips), so its deft on snowy driveways, too.
Anyone who's driven a true body-on-frame, truck-based SUV like the GX before will probably feel right at home in it. With a 301-horsepower V-8, it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, which is slow for a V-8. The 6-speed automatic transmission provides quick, smooth shifts, so at least there are no flat spots in the power delivery. The standard Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System is a mixed blessing. It helps keep the vehicle level in corners and in precarious off-road situations, yet it creates a jittery feeling at times on pavement. Ride quality is otherwise good, and the cabin is quiet, as a Lexus should be inside. Light, long-ratio steering and a soft brake pedal enforce the idea that it's a traditional SUV at heart.
In the GX you sit very high relative to the window line, at least compared to other new vehicles, so there's great outward visibility. Well padded, supportive seats combine with plenty of headroom and legroom to make this a really pleasant place to be. The second row is roomy, too, but behind that the GX is somewhere between disappointing and a packaging disaster. The third row is small and impractical, as it's hard to get to, and the odd (and mandatory) power-folding mechanism robs lots of space behind it, keeping the cargo area from being flat and low. And then there's the side-opening hatch: It's hinged on the right, meaning that you have to find your way around it when loading from the curb side.
The GX is entering its seventh year in its current generation, and it hasn't seen many changes since its debut in 2010. As a gently rounded take on the classic SUV proportions—crossed with some obligatory "machined" brightwork cues here and there borrowed from Toyota's larger trucks like the Tundra pickup—the GX 460 is neither extroverted nor flashy. The signature Lexus spindle grille is bold, and the carved-out fenders and tall, imposing beltline do make it look quite trucky. Inside, the look and layout are upright and truck-like, for sure, and the materials and trim are high quality.
Despite the truck roots of the GX 460, Lexus has equipped it with all the common convenience and luxury features, and the Premium grade steps up to the rich infotainment features and tech extras. Parking assist, a 330-watt Mark Levinson surround-sound system, and a rear-seat entertainment system are among the extras. So are two different safety-tech packages that together can bring a forward collision warning, driver attention monitor, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, crawl control, lane-departure warning, and a surround-view camera. The navigation system that's available in the GX comes with the Enform suite of services, including operator-assisted destination searching.
There's no bigger reminder of the car's truck roots than its gas mileage. The GX 460 manages just 15 mpg city, 20 highway, 17 combined on premium fuel.
2016 Lexus GX
While Lexus' spindle grille works on the company's sedans, it looks odd in this macho off-roader.
While the GX 460 is based on the brawny-looking 4Runner, it's more of a wallflower, overall. Lexus has blended the gentle, organic, and aerodynamic styling of the brand's 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.
The GX 460 wears a pronounced iteration of the brand's "spindle" grille, which is flanked by large headlamps, some very noticeable chrome, and a pair of very aggressive looking air dams in the bumper. From behind, it's more conservative–and cleaner—with its tall taillights and wide design. In profile, the GX is decidedly truck-like, thanks to its imposing beltline and carved-out fenders.
"Tough premium" is the way that Lexus refers to the interior. It mixes the expected chunky trim and bulkier door handles of a truck with soft, luxurious materials. The instrument-panel design is quite upright and has a horizontal-bar theme running its length—assuring a sense of toughness—though inside, the look and layout are somewhat more upright than other Lexus cabins.
2016 Lexus GX
The GX's off-road capability is a detriment to its on-road dynamic character.
The 2016 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. However, most drivers don't go off-road and those who do spend far more time on the pavement.
The GX 460 comes standard with a 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 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. However, the steering lacks road feel, has an artificial weighting off center, and responds slowly, providing a constant reminder that the GX is more traditional SUV than nimble crossover. The spongy brake-pedal feel is also one of the least appealing aspects of the GX 460.
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.
Considering the GX 460's low running boards, chrome trim all around, and what could be seen as a delicate interior, you might not expect it 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.
The GX 460 is motivated by a 4.6-liter V-8 that produces 301 horsepower. It accelerates willingly from 0-60 in 7.8 seconds, but that number that is more appropriate for a V-6 than a V-8. That engine is mated to a smooth, quick-shifting 6-speed automatic.
2016 Lexus GX
Comfort & Quality
If carrying people is your goal, we recommend a seven-seat crossover, despite typical Lexus interior quality.
The GX is very truck-like on the outside and incredibly refined and well-built on the inside.
The look and feel of the interior appointments is top-notch. The controls feel better designed and less cluttered than those in Lexus cars. We also love the steering-wheel controls; the legible gauge layout; and the cleanly laid-out center-stack for audio, climate, and navigation functions.
The seating position is high relative to the window line, at least compared to other new vehicles, so there's great outward visibility. The front seats are nicely padded, with excellent support as well as good head room and leg room. The second row is very roomy, too, and it's not only split, but it slides fore and aft to adjust leg room and aid entry to the third row.
That back row doesn't make a lot of sense and will leave adults—or even teenagers—with their knees mashed into the seatback, with tight head room to boot. Unfortunately, the seat can't be removed, and the power-folding mechanism that's mandatory occupies some of the space behind, keeping the cargo floor from being flat and low. What's more, the side-opening hatch opens on the wrong side for easy curb loading.
2016 Lexus GX
The 2016 Lexus GX offers some of today's active safety features but it hasn't been crash tested.
In addition to the usual stability control and anti-lock brakes, the 2016 Lexus GX 460 has 10 airbags, including front side, rear seat side, and three-row side-curtain bags, plus knee bags for both front occupants. Active front head restraints also enhance rear impact safety.
The GX hasn't been evaluated in recent years by the agencies that crash-test cars, and the vehicle's older structure likely means it wouldn't do very well in today's tests.
Safety Connect—a navigation-based roadside assistance system—is included with all models, and the GX 460 is available with a few features that might actually help avoid an accident. A forward-collision warning primes the braking system for emergency braking and uses a driver monitor system; it's packaged together with a Driver Attention Monitor, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning, which sounds a buzzer to warn the driver if the vehicle strays out of lane markings. Also available are a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high beams.
Unfortunately, with thick rear pillars, the blind spots are substantial, leaving you to double- and triple-check when changing lanes. Thankfully, a rearview camera is standard, and surround-view cameras are available.
2016 Lexus GX
A full spate of luxury amenities is highlighted by Lexus' latest smartphone connectivity features.
The 2016 Lexus GX is offered in three models: standard, Premium and Luxury. Even the base model comes with a comprehensive list of features. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera, LED headlights, a sunroof, roof rails, leatherette upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, driver's seat memory, 4.2-inch multi-information display, 120-volt rear cargo outlet, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, power tilt/telescoping steering column, and a Display Audio system. This system comes with nine speakers, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, HD radio with real-time traffic and weather, satellite radio, two USB ports, and Bluetooth phone and music streaming connectivity. In addition, Siri Eyes Free is standard across the lineup.
The Premium model adds heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, LED foglights, park assistance with sensors that sound beeps as you get closer to objects when parking, three-zone automatic climate control, and a navigation system. The navigation system in the GX is packaged with Enform, which offers access to apps; services delivering weather, stock quotes, and sports scores; and a Destination Assist service that allows a remote operator to input destinations into your nav system. For 2016, Enform also adds Enform Remote that allows owners to remotely view and control aspects of the vehicle via a smartphone app.
The Luxury model adds an adaptive variable suspension, a rear air suspension with auto leveling, a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, semi-aniline leather upholstery, a rear tonneau cover, and power folding third-row seats.
Option-list highlights include a 330-watt Mark Levinson surround sound system, a rear-seat entertainment system, automatic high beams, lane-departure alert, attention monitor, surround-view cameras, forward-collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.
About the only conventional luxury-SUV feature that's not available in the GX 460 is a power tailgate—the GX has a manual, side-opening rear door instead.
2016 Lexus GX
A throwback truck-type SUV, the GX gets terrible gas mileage.
With a truck-based chassis, considerable weight, and a V-8 engine, the 2016 Lexus GX, predictably, gets lackluster fuel economy ratings. The EPA rates it at 15 mpg city, 20 highway, 17 combined. To top it off, it requires premium gasoline.
On a positive note, in our test drives we've seen slightly better figures, which is more than we can say for most new vehicles.