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Quick Spin: 2014 Lexus GX 460

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2014 Lexus GX 460

The Toyota 4Runner has always held a special place in my heart for its boxy styling and off-road prowess, but until now, I never had the chance to drive its more luxurious cousin, the Lexus GX 460. Granted, the GX actually has more in common with the foreign-market Land Cruiser Prado, but all three SUVs ride on the same body-on-frame platform.

Originally an answer to the luxury SUV craze from the early 2000s, the GX hasn’t changed all that much since its introduction more than a decade ago. It’s a big SUV with plenty of space and crammed with just about all the luxuriousness Lexus could fit into a 12-year-old vehicle, but, more importantly, it still has the chops to go places many vehicles in its segment wouldn’t dare venture. And just for good measure, Lexus tacked on its new signature spindle grille in what has to be its most pronounced appearance yet.

I’ve had a chance to drive most of the latest Lexus products (including the IS, ES and GS) to see just how competitive Toyota’s luxury arm has gotten in recent years, but after spending a week with the 2014 GX 460, it’s refreshing that, for now, Lexus has resisted the urge to follow some of its rivals in replacing rugged, body-on-frame SUVs with softer, car-based crossovers.

Driving Notes

  • Slotted in between the popular RX crossover and the fullsize LX 570, the GX 460 is positioned in somewhat of an odd segment. On one end sit luxury crossovers like the Infiniti QX60, Mercedes GL-Class and Audi Q7, ready to tackle the daily driving and maybe some occasional gravel roads, while on the other end, the GX and Land Rover LR4 are more traditional SUVs with the ability to go a little deeper into the wilderness.
  • In reality, off-road excursions in the GX will likely be very rare, and as such, my off-roading time in the GX was limited to driving on the fine sand beaches of north Florida, which did little to slow down the GX with the low range engaged and the center differential locked. Even with the big wheels, plastic fascias and integrated running boards, the GX still has decent ground clearance, as well as good approach and departure angles, not to mention an adjustable air suspension. This isn’t to say the GX can tackle the Rubicon Trail or anything, but it is surely a more competent off-road vehicle than most other midsize and fullsize utility vehicles currently out there. Like the 4Runner, there’s even a Crawl Control feature available, but it wasn’t equipped on this tester.
  • I had already expected the GX to be able to handle itself in messy situations, but where it really surprised me was on-road. For as big, bulky and rugged as this SUV is, it delivered a smooth, Lexus-spec ride. Speed bumps and expansion joints do little to upset the GX’s balance, and the luxurious interior makes the GX feel like an excellent long-distance hauler… with the exception being its fuel economy.
  • Drive the GX like a Prius and you might hit the EPA fuel economy estimates of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, but get the GX in a hurry and you’ll notice the pinch in your wallet. During my week with it, I saw an average of just 15.1 mpg in combined driving. Full-time four-wheel drive doesn’t help either, which is why the GX is aimed at buyers who are leaning more toward the off-road capability rather than everyday practicality.
  • Sure, you’d be wrong to expect stellar fuel economy from a big, rugged SUV, but the one area that really disappointed me about the GX 460 was the 460 part. Toyota’s 4.6-liter V8 produces just 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque, and most of the time feels like it’s struggling to motivate the 5,340-pounds SUV.
  • As aged as the GX’s powertrain feels, its cabin doesn’t do much to modernize the SUV either. Being an older platform, Lexus has left out modern technology like its Remote Touch Control and its configurable gauge cluster, but the 2014 enhancements do include a new eight-inch touchscreen display and trailer-sway control as standard equipment. And the toggle controls for the suspension and four-wheel drive are a nice touch, too. There’s plenty of luxury to be found inside the GX, especially when factoring in the top Luxury trim level used for this Quick Spin, which included features like soft semi-aniline leather, heated and cooled front seats, heated outboard second row seats and the power folding split third row seat to name a few. Speaking of the third row, I was able to fit into the rearmost seats, but I doubt I’d want to spend too much time back there. There is plenty of room for the front and middle-row occupants, though.
  • Visually, the easiest way to tell the 2014 GX apart from previous second-gen models is the front-end styling. The gaping maw that Lexus calls a spindle grille received the bulk of the attention in conversation, but the rest of the design isn’t all that different from the original GX that debuted in 2002. This includes the tall stance, vertical taillights (now LED units) and the side-hinged tailgate. Like the grille, the new fascia attempts to mimic the more aggressive design language that Lexus has adopted recently, and it does so with angled parking/fog light bezels toward the bottom and reshaped headlights that now house LED daytime running lights.
  • For the most part, Lexus seems content with the GX soldiering on in this now-niche SUV role, but it may have made its midsize utility vehicle a little more enticing for buyers – the starting MSRP of the 2014 GX has been lowered by $5,000 compared to the 2013 model. The GX now starts at $49,085, but the GX 460 Luxury is a steep jump up to $60,715. This tester rang in at $63,658 including the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and, all in, you’re looking at close to $70,000 for a completely fully loaded GX.
  • Factoring in the pricing, fuel economy and ruggedness, it’s hard to imagine there’s much of a market for such a big, go-almost-anywhere SUV these days, but the GX is still trucking along with relatively minor, albeit effective, improvements for 2014. Sadly, as body-on-frame SUVs seem to be going in the same direction as carburetors and pop-up headlights, I fear that a next-gen GX could become something closer to the three-row QX60 rather than a global off-roader like the LR4.

2014 Lexus GX 460 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 20 Dec 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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December 20th, 2013

Report: Lexus GX, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado facelifts leaked

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Leaked patent-filing sketches of the Lexus GX show mid-cycle styling updates.

The Lexus GX and the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, which isn’t sold in the US, have gone without visual updates since the current generation was launched in 2009. But what appear to be patent filing sketches and pictures of the sibling sports utility vehicles’ mid-cycle updates have been leaked on a Russian Land Cruiser Club forum.

Major changes to the GX’s front end will be made to incorporate Lexus’ signature grille. Gone are the awkwardly shaped headlamps and the soft-looking triple-slat grille. The sketch shows the Lexus with a new bumper, lower-profile headlights and a more aggressive, angular grille with one more slat and a gaping lower air-intake opening. The vehicle’s profile looks unchanged, but the rear bumper will be reshaped slightly to fit new, better-integrated horizontal reflectors.

The Toyota gets a handful of styling updates as well, including a new front bumper with higher-profile headlamps that look a bit out of place to us. The Prado’s profile also looks unchanged, but the rear end gets restyled taillights and a reshaped license-plate enclosure.

Take a look at the galleries we’ve included of the restyled GX and Land Cruiser Prado and the current GX for comparison.

Lexus GX, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado facelifts leaked originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 22 Aug 2013 10:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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August 22nd, 2013

Lexus Safety Experience: Enthusiast knowledge made common

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Lexus RX 350 - Lexus Safety Experience

Lexus Safety Experience – Click above for high-res image gallery

You’re an auto enthusiast. You know what all the acronyms on the buttons around your dash stand for. You understand that braking power can beat engine power 99% of the time. That feeling you get from activating the anti-lock braking system? It’s not “scary” and you know you should keep your foot down. The problem is that the average driver or new-car shopper is not an enthusiast. Lexus knows this and it has created an event to help educate its salesmen around the country, who in turn can better explain the safety systems available on the cars in the showroom.

The Lexus Safety Experience is a half-day event that highlights the safety tech fitted to most Lexus vehicles (some 2010 models and all 2011s). In short, it decodes the aforementioned acronym alphabet soup and then demonstrates exactly what each one does. What does VSC stand for? What is TRAC and VDIM? Is EBD something I should get tested for?

Answers: Vehicle Stability Control. Traction Control Activity Area and Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management. No, it means Electronic Brake-Force Distribution.

The terms might be foreign concepts to many of its customers, but Lexus is trying to change that. Not by telling its sales force what everything means – by showing them.

Photos by Drew Phillips/Copyright 2010 (C)2010 Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading Lexus Safety Experience: Enthusiast knowledge made common

Lexus Safety Experience: Enthusiast knowledge made common originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 09 Oct 2010 09:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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October 9th, 2010

Lexus GX officially off Consumer Reports “Don’t Buy” list

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According to Consumer Reports, it’s officially safe to wade back into Lexus GX waters. The luxury SUV has been removed from the infamous “Do Not Buy” list after Toyota solved the handling issues that landed the high-riding people mover in time-out. The Japanese automaker has corrected a software issue that allowed the vehicle to lose control during emergency braking maneuvers. All new models will be sold with the fix, and current owners have been asked to bring in their vehicles so that the repair can be made free of charge.

About a month ago, Consumer Reports found that during testing, the stability control on the new GX failed to reign in wild slides, thereby creating a potential recipe for a roll-over. The magazine’s testing resulted in an internal investigation at Toyota that eventually produced the software fix. To date, no one has been injured due to the glitch.

While the Lexus GX is officially back in the game, it may take some time before buyers stop associating the truck with the Consumer Reports black list.

[Source: Automotive News]

Continue reading Lexus GX officially off Consumer Reports “Don’t Buy” list

Lexus GX officially off Consumer Reports “Don’t Buy” list originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 07 May 2010 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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May 7th, 2010

Video: Lexus GX recall remedy in action

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Click above to watch video after the jump

Toyota announced a voluntary recall on Monday for some 9,400 Lexus GX 460 SUVs for wheel slippage that could occur during high speed turns. The company acted quickly in stopping sales of the GX after Consumer Reports gave the SUV a Do Not Buy rating following its own tests that showed the big SUV had trouble maintaining composure during high speed maneuvers. Toyota’s press release at the time stated the recall involves reprogramming software in the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system. We weren’t sure how long it would take Toyota to develop a software patch, but apparently it didn’t take long at all.

The main culprit appears to be the fact that the fuel tank is located on the left side of the vehicle. A full tank of gas plus the weight of a driver in left-hand-drive vehicle could result in some hairy handling when taking right turns at high speed. That is, at least, before Toyota’s software fix for the VSC system.

Follow the jump to see the effect a little reprogramming has on how a vehicle behaves. In the video, two Lexus SUVs take a right turn at 59 miles per hour. One puts on an impromptu drifting session and the other makes it through just fine. We’ll let you guess which one had its VSC reprogrammed.

[Source: The Lexus Enthusiast]

Continue reading Video: Lexus GX recall remedy in action

Video: Lexus GX recall remedy in action originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 21 Apr 2010 14:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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April 21st, 2010

DetNews: Toyota recalling Lexus GX to address rollover concern [*UPDATED*]

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The moment Lexus GX owners have been waiting for since Consumer Reports first blacklisted the SUV last week has finally arrived – Toyota has recalled the vehicle. According to The Detroit News, the Japanese manufacturer will announce the move later this afternoon, and the recall is expected to cover around 5,000 vehicles currently on the road. As expected, Lexus dealers will install new traction control software to correct potentially dangerous handling characteristics.

Last week, Consumer Reports branded the Lexus GX with its infamous “Do Not Buy” rating after the vehicle failed a standard test. During hard downhill braking, the traction control would allow the vehicle’s rear-end to step out much farther than normal. On a public road, CR says, that could lead to a rollover.

The GX recall joins a flurry of others that have cropped up over the past few months. From stuck accelerators to rusting frames and corroding spare tire carrier cables, Toyota has had to deal with one problem after another. At least this time the company acted swiftly enough to comply with department of transportation regulations. The carmaker recently agreed to pay a $16.4 million fine for failing to recall 2.3 million vehicles in a timely enough fashion.

*UPDATED:
Official Toyota press release added after the jump. 9,400 Lexus GX 460 units recalled.

[Source: The Detroit News]

Continue reading DetNews: Toyota recalling Lexus GX to address rollover concern [*UPDATED*]

DetNews: Toyota recalling Lexus GX to address rollover concern [*UPDATED*] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 19 Apr 2010 13:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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April 19th, 2010
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