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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Large and in charge – with a load of luxury in between – might not sum up the three-row Lexus GX 460 with all the grace it deserves, but it sure denotes its rugged abilities at a time where most utility vehicles have downsized their original purpose for savvier style and attitude.

I drove a 2017 Lexus GX 460 with the 301-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine with 329 lb-ft of torque teamed to a six-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive. There are three trim levels – base, Premium and Luxury – and my Luxury trim test drive featured the following: leather upholstery and interior surfaces; wood accents; ten-way power driver’s seat; heated and ventilated front seats; second-row captain chairs; a power moonroof; a rear back-up camera; eight-inch touchscreen with navigation; Lexus Enform App Suite; push-button start; fold-flat third row; eighteen-inch alloy wheels; Lexus Enform Safety Connect; Blind-Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert; and intuitive Parking Assist. Without options my Lexus GX 460 Luxury trim came to $63,380.

The Lexus GX 460 should attract buyers for its commitment to providing all-terrain ability and high-end luxury. Competitors are few for the niche category but include such usual suspects as the Land Rover and Range Rover; the Infiniti QX80 also casts a large shadow.

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Stylish But Comfortable Results: Don’t let the size intimidate you – most will feel immediately at home once the plush seats and generous visibility have been experienced. My test drive also featured the new Sport Design Package ($1,625) with unique alloy wheels, grille and rear valance and other chrome additions; plus the Dual-Screen Rear-Seat Entertainment System ($1,970); and Driver Support Package ($4,340) with an Mark Levinson audio system that included a wider view backup camera angle and all the extra safety tech needed for a ride this big (Lane Departure Alert and a Pre-Collison System). Unlike a traditional SUV liftgate, the GX 460 rear door swings open to the side like a refrigerator. Keep in mind the pop-up third row is cramped, and although the new captain’s chairs allow for better access, they aren’t that supportive. Lexus needs to update its infotainment system graphics. I do gripe how makers like Lexus have streamlined climate controls by doing away with air flow dials, but their system is pretty responsive just working the hot-cold switches.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Lexus GX 460 is not rated by the National Highway Safety Transportation Association (NHSTA) or by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). As stated on the IIHS website, they do not routinely test large SUVs due to the reason the size and weight of large SUVs means that they start with a higher level of protection for occupants. It was not difficult for a couple of six-year olds to find their belts and click in; I highly recommend asking all family members to sample putting on seats belts in all rows before you make a vehicle purchase.

Cost Issues: The 2017 Lexus GX 460 has a base price of $51,680. With options, the final price of my test drive came to $71,020. A 2017 Range Rover us going to start at $85,650, so consider the Lexus GX 460 a deal.

Activity & Performance Ability: When you have to have body-on-frame construction for style or performance reasons the GX 460 will satisfy, but truth be told out there in the real world the crossovers are easier to park and maneuver. The V8 powertrain hasn’t changed and doesn’t need to, and its off-road ability simply cannot be matched. Adaptive suspension with three modes can help firm up the road feel. When properly equipped, the Lexus GX 460 can tow up to 6,500 pounds.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy estimates are 15-city/18-highway driving for a dismal average of 16-mpg with full-time all-wheel drive. If reality is hitting hard, the more modest but still luxurious 2017 Lexus RX 450h hybrid crossover has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 31-city and 30-highway for a combined claim of 30 miles-per-gallon with front-wheel drive.

The 2017 Lexus GX 460 will easily impress you with its size, capability and luxurious approach, giving families the best of all worlds. While it does come at a pretty steep price, trying to settle for a Lexus RX 350 or Toyota 4Runner just might not satisfy your itch for something monumental like the GX 460.

©2017 Katrina Ramser Parrish

The Most In-Depth Lexus Vehicle Consumer's Research - Anywhere!

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