It’s no secret that Lexus is the luxury arm of Toyota. And to that end, the GX series is also known as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with variations on options and trims by region, etc. The first in the series was the GX 470 (J120), released in 2002 to be the third SUV from Lexus. It used the same 4.7-liter V8 engine as the larger LX 470. The GX 460 is the second generation (J150) and was released in November of 2009 with Toyota’s 4.6-liter 1UR-FE V8 engine. The Lexus GX 460 is a body-on-frame construction vehicle with full-time four-wheel drive using a Torsen center locking differential and an electronically controlled hi-lo transfer case.
To put the GX 460 to the test, we had a pretty typical Colorado winter weekend. We loaded up our family of four with ski and overnight sleeping gear and drove from Boulder up to Breckenridge to get an afternoon of skiing in before heading on to Buena Vista where we stayed in a cabin at a ranch to enjoy some winter fun with a number of other families. In all, we covered over 300 miles with some significant stretches of fairly snowy road conditions. The GX 460 comes in three trim options: The GX 460, GX 460 Premium, and GX 460 Luxury. The specific vehicle we drove was a Silver 2019 / 9710A GX 460 Luxury which meant it came with a slew of bells and whistles and as driven priced at $67,834.
The ride into and from the mountains was very smooth with independent double-wishbone suspension in the front and four-link suspension in the rear. Both the front and rear use coil springs with gas-pressurized shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar. We had very few instances where we were on any sort of rough road, so we can only speak to pavement driving, which was excellent. Even though the GX 460 is taller than the average SUV at 74 inches, it did not feel like it was awkward to handle. Nor did it feel top heavy in high speed sharp turns. And, it was easy to turn thanks to the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. What was unremarkable however was the tease of having three indistinguishable drive modes. A switch in the center console next to the shift lever gives the driver the choice to drive in Sport, Standard, or Comfort mode. I couldn’t feel a difference amongst those—I guess I’m not enough of a princess to feel the pea.
While we didn’t have any rough roads to negotiate the GX 460 does show it’s Toyota Land Cruiser pedigree with all kinds of features like Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KISS) and crawl control. We did however have a lot of slippery conditions and the GX 460 always felt stable. The full-time four wheel drive certainly did its part on the slick roads and we did have an instance where we needed to pull off of the road down a snowy berm with unknown under snow surface conditions to make an emergency diaper change. Just for fun to get out of there I flipped the drivetrain switch to L4 and the GX 460 didn’t even flinch to get us up and over that berm and back onto the snowy road on the standard provided 265/60 R18 mud and snow tires. I would not have done that maneuver in anything other than a four-wheel drive SUV and that shows where the versatility of the “utility” aspect really comes to play.
This rig did come with the tow hitch and advertises a 6,500-pound towing capacity. We didn’t use that, but we do often travel with our bikes on a hitch mounted rack, so this vehicle would serve us well in that capacity. The GX 460 also has a switch on the console for the rear height air suspension control to help adjust the height of the tow ball to match your trailer. The icon on the switch however makes it look like it would raise and lower the body on all four wheels for greater overall ground clearance for rock crawling or the such. Alas, that was not the case. Still, a nice feature when needed.
We did however stuff the GX 460 to the gills. On average, the Lexus GX 460 runs a little on the small side as far as cargo space is concerned for three row SUVs. Since our test model didn’t include the optional cargo cross bars (and from my limited research, it looks like the easiest option is to buy the cross bars from Lexus to fit in their unique rail system), we couldn’t use our roof top box. So everything, including skis, had to go in the main cabin. The lifesaver here was the center ski split in the second row bench seat, though it’s also available with second row captains chairs which will naturally leave a space between the two for skis. With just four of us traveling, the versatility of being able to collapse the third row into cargo space worked out just fine. There’s only 11.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row which only provides about a foot of depth so it’s fine for a few bags of groceries or an emergency kit and that’s about it. Since the third row seats recline a bit (rightfully) that foot of depth narrows quickly as you move upward so only skinny tall items will fit back there. When the third row is lowered the cargo space goes to 46.7 cubic feet and that’s what we filled from floor to ceiling. If you don’t have kiddos to haul, you can get a total of 64.7 cubic feet by lowering the second row of seats.
Where the third row did pay off was when we had unloaded all of our gear into our cabin at the ranch and then we could invite friends to carpool with us for a run into town—an ideal use. The third row is not a place to put adults for a long road trip.
The most curious of all the design elements related to hauling—specifically to loading the GX 460 to haul things—is how the rear door swings open. It opens from left to right, that is, it swings towards the curb side in left side steering/right side of the road driving countries like the United States. That means when you’re loading or unloading along the curb at the hotel or at the airport, you have to go around the opened rear door to get things in or out. Disastrous? No. Inconvenient? Certainly in some instances.
The 15 city/18 highway for a combined 16 mpg is OK for a vehicle of this size but begs the question on why Toyota can’t make a more efficient engine when the much bigger and higher towing capable GMC Yukon XL can get 20 mpg on the highway. We didn’t have enough gas stops in our testing window to bother with calculating out our own numbers since the claimed mileage is fine and probably won’t be that big of a decision factor for someone in the market for a vehicle like the GX 460.
Amenities & Comfort
With the Luxury package at our disposal, amenities were numerous although all of these are not necessarily limited to the Luxury package. There are multiple airbags throughout the cabin for all three rows, voice assist, rear traffic alerts, backup camera, parking assist cameras (mounted under the exterior rear view mirrors), leather trimmed seats, 10-way adjustment power front seats, heated second row seats, 3-zone climate adjustment, rain sensing wipers, moonroof, auto-dimming high beam headlights, and an incredible Mark Levinson sound system.
Of particular interest to us for family travel was the drop-down backseat view mirror. We also liked the discrete and covered USB power port in the center console above the shifter, the independently adjustable center armrests for the front row, the versatile (and stowable) center console cup holders, and the large storage space available under the center armrests—an ideal place to keep snacks and toys to cater to the demands made from the second row. And, of course in winter testing conditions like this, the heated mahogany steering wheel is truly a luxury.
The Lexus GX 460 is a very family friendly vehicle. From the above mentioned rear-seat view mirror that drops down from the overhead center console to the child seat anchor points for across the entire second row and the illuminated running boards for those determined little ones who insist on climbing themselves into the vehicle. Not to mention all the great safety features that come with the GX 460 to keep all that precious cargo safe by helping avoid collisions in the first place, but to protect them if the unfortunate does occur. And while we would mostly keep that third row folded down for cargo, the ability to be able to load up your kid’s friends is awesome and just plain fun to maintain the “Cool Dad” moniker for those spontaneous runs to the ice cream parlor.