2021 Lexus GX460 Luxury Review by David Colman +VIDEO
If you're looking to go Road Warrior this vehicle will take you there
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
This is the SUV you want to own when society disintegrates. If there's a better post-apocalyptic battle wagon than this Lexus, it would have to be painted olive drab, and mount a turret with a 70mm barrel. Of course, you'd never know that from a casual glance at Lexus' rather innocuous revamp of the beefy GX460. After all, it's big and blocky, kind of awkwardly plus-sized. In a world of highly stylized SUVs that look like NFL running backs, the new GX460 plays right tackle on the Lexus SUV line. Three grades of GX are available for 2021, with $53,100 for the base model, $55,890 for the Premium version and $64,365 for the top level Luxury trim we drove.
The GX460 boasts the only body-on-frame construction available in this class of SUV. In practical terms, what this means is the GX is not a car based crossover but a truck skinned in civilian clothing. Thus, it is well equipped to tow a trailer weighing 6,500lbs. Our test example sported an optional ($755) frame-mounted "Tow Hitch with Ball Mount." The hitch's sleek curved design makes every other tow device look like a backyard blacksmith project.
Lexus also fitted our test GX with a $1,570 "Off Road Package" that insures optimal engine and transmission performance under the duress of towing. The modestly priced package adds terrifically large panoramic rear view mirrors, plus a transmission cooler, and a protective plate for the 26 gallon fuel tank. Best of all, the off road kit adds Crawl Control and a Multi-Terrain selector to the GX' extensive library of back country parlor tricks. If you opt for the Luxury level GX460, Lexus also fits it with adaptive variable suspension which consists of self-adjusting front and rear anti-roll bars. These work in consort with the terrain selector to vanquish the following off-road challenges: rock, rock and dirt, mogul, loose rock, rock and sand.
Of course, when you are ensconced in the semi-aniline leather seats specific to the GX Luxury, while gliding over potholes damped by the GX' adjustable variable suspension, you don't think of this Lexus as the supreme off-road warrior it really is. That's because Lexus has done such a thorough job of sublimating the all terrain snarl to a muted serenade of luxury. The serenade of our test sample was augmented by the addition of a $1,145, 17 speaker surround sound system from Mark Levinson, which included an automatic sound "levelizer" and even a CD/DVD slot to resurrect your archaic music purchases. So clarion was this Levinson system that my wife and I spent a delightful lunch hour parked while listening to Sirius XM's "50's on 5," with the AC set at 68 on a 92 degree day. With its electrically folding third row seats, copious second row captain's chairs, and sumptuous front row first class seats, the GX460 Luxury is truly home away from home.
The option group that tilted the final price into the $70,000 range was the Sport Design Package ($2,020), which lavished all four wheelwells with 19x7.5J, dark gray split 6-spoke alloy rims with a machined finish. Lexus fitted these sparkling rims with 265/55R19 Dunlop Grand Trek AT23 mud and snow rated tires ready to attack any surface you can dial up on the Multi-Terrain Selector dial. However, the 5,126lb. GX460 will not be your weapon of choice for making quick work of winding back roads. While the handling of this Lexus is predictable, and sure footed, its sheer weight, 74 inch height, and 41.1ft. turning circle mitigate against quick handling maneuvers.
But even with the no-extra-charge optional captain's chairs in the second row, you can easily tour with 6 or 7 aboard and still have lots of room for your stuff in the aft-most storage compartment. The GX offers 64.7 cubic feet of storage if both rear rows are folded flat, 46.7 cubic feet if just the third row is collapsed, and 11.6 cubic feet if all seats are straight up. Sp this stellar SUV is not just an off road warrior, but also a moving van of considerable repute. The downside is it doesn't come cheap, and its 301hp, 4.6 liter V8 will have you refilling that well protected 26 gallon gas tank all too frequently.
2021 LEXUS GX460 LUXURY
ENGINE: 4.6liter V8
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 15MPG City/19MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $71,690
HYPES: The Velvet Road Warrior
GRIPES: Would Prefer 5 Liter, 381hp V8
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10