In the grand scheme of automotive evolution, the Lexus GX460 is old. Really old. Body-on-frame, full-time 4×4, naturally aspirated V8 old. There was a time when the market was flush with models that shared those traits. But just like the Coelacanth was left behind by modern day fish, the GX460s ancestors evolved into modern crossovers. Engine downsizing, unibodies, hybridization, all-wheel-drive; the “modern” SUV has changed dramatically in the GS460s lifetime. And yet, it remains. What’s more, it now that it stands to be the only midsize SUV left that offers such a feature set. For many, that stands to be quite favorable.
The continued favorability of the GX460, in my opinion, stems from the same place that spurs on the Toyota 4Runner’s sales figures. As someone who has owned a Toyota FJ Cruiser for the last 6 years, the Toyota 4Runner retains all of the 4×4 capability with an extra dose of comfort, convenience, and ergonomics over the FJ. Stepping into the Lexus GX460 brings much the same feeling, only heightened to a true luxury level. After testing the refreshed 2020 Lexus GX460 last winter, climbing back into the leather-ensconced and wood-trimmed cabin feels every bit the $59k as-tested price would suggest. The plush interior, analog gauges, and 4×4 switchgear somehow don’t clash. Unfortunately the dated infotainment system, devoid of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, is the only thing holding the cabin experience back.
Mechanically, the GX460 differs from its 4Runner cousin by fitting a 4.6L V8 making 301hp and 329 lb-ft torque and a six-speed automatic. That’s two more cylinders and 1 more forward gear than the 4Runner. The 50 lb-ft of extra torque and silky smooth V8 make all the difference in the world. The GX460 isn’t a performance machine by any right, but has a capability to get up and moving in every daily scenario. There’s even enough power to consider making a passing move, something that I’ve basically forgotten about in my daily FJ Cruiser commutes. Behind the wheel, the GX460 is just truckish enough to feel mechanical through the controls but luxurious through the suspension. The ride itself is isolated, eliminating a lot of the lateral roll and road noise that the 4Runner and FJ Cruiser exhibit. The one downside to this is that the GX460 hides the feeling of grip until the big truck has very nearly surpassed its limits. You can’t grab the Lexus by the scruff of its neck and through it through a corner quite the same way you can in either of the Toyotas. But with a cabin experience like the GX460, why would you want to?
At the end of the day, if I wanted to replace the FJ Cruiser with something that provided the same 4×4 capability but offered a more comfortable and feature-laden experience, the Lexus GX460 is the only vehicle that qualifies. It got me thinking about older-generation 4Runners, the ones you used to be able to get with a V8. That’s ultimately what the Lexus GX460 is, just with a whole lot more leather. Excellent visibility plus backup camera and parking sensors, heated seats , and Lexus Safety Sense + provide all the daily driver features you need on the road. 2021 even adds a heated wood-trimmed steering wheel and acoustic front glass for a better cabin experience. I only wish the GX460 came with power folding mirrors.
The Lexus GX460 is the last of an entire class of SUVs. When its gone, we doubt we’ll ever see anything like it again. There might be one or two more features that Lexus can engineer into this platform, but then it will go the way of the Land Cruiser. So if you’re looking for a V8 body-on-frame SUV that can comfortably carry the family over hill and dale, the Lexus GX460 is just about your only luxury option.
|2021 Lexus GX460||$53,100|
|Premium Plus Package||$4,485|
|Heated Wood & Leather Steering Wheel||$450|
|Cargo-Area Tonneau Cover||$150|