Although the Lexus RX was one of the first car-based crossover SUVs and is the brand's most popular model, Lexus did eventually hedge its bets by bringing out the more conventional GX sport-utility. The GX is derived from the Toyota 4Runner and has an old-school, body-on-frame architecture that makes the GX heavier, taller, and harder to climb up into than the RX. At the same time, however, this more trucklike construction gives the GX460 a robust towing capacity of 6500 pounds and makes it better able to handle off-road conditions. The standard all-wheel-drive system includes a low range as well as a lockable center differential; the electronic Active Traction Control mimics the effects of lockable front and rear differentials. The optional Crawl Control is sort of like an off-road version of cruise control -- you choose one of five preset, ultraslow speeds -- and it's augmented by Downhill Assist Control, which helps control speeds during steep descents. The Adjustable Height Control enables the suspension to raise the vehicle to clear obstacles (but be careful of those running boards), and the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System can adjust the anti-roll bars to allow greater wheel articulation off-road or, more usefully, less body roll during on-road cornering. For all its off-road helpers, the GX460 is also a worthy machine on the road, where it runs smoothly and quietly. The cabin comes with power everything and is lined with leather. A third-row seat is standard, but you need to be small and limber to climb back there.
Trim levels: GX460, Premium
Body style: SUV, 7-passenger
Engine: 4.6L V-8, 301 hp, 329 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 129.7 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 6500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 11.6/46.7/91.9 cu ft
The GX460 is largely carryover for 2012. There are no significant changes, only minor detail revisions. The base model adds body-side molding. The Premium version rolls into 2012 on wheels with a new, high-gloss finish. The multifunction information display now tells the outside temperature. Fire agate pearl (a metallic brown) replaces peridot mica (a dark green metallic); supposedly, green does not have good resale value.
Front, knee, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and stability and traction control are standard. The Premium offers optional precollision warning with preventive braking, a driver-drowsiness monitor, and lane-departure warning. Lexus's Safety Connect telematics system includes collision response and a one-year subscription.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway
- Good towing capacity
Standard third-row seats
You Won't Like
- Tall and heavy
Luggage space disappears when third row is in use
An old-style SUV that's been to Lexus finishing school.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
Land Rover LR4