The Lexus GX is a confusingly old-school SUV disguised with Lexus’s new design language. What do you need to know before you buy a Lexus GX? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.
The Lexus GX sits on a ladder frame and sports a thirsty, gutless V8, a solid rear axle and old-school hydraulic power steering. This powertrain and architecture combo feels like it’s straight out of 2005, and yet Lexus is still selling the things. Needless to say, the GX strikes us as a bit of an oddball.
We can see what Lexus is trying to do with the GX. They want to build an all-rounder that they say is “one vehicle, for all weeks and weekends.” And yes, the GX does have plenty of off-road goodies, it can tow a big boat and carry seven people in luxurious comfort, so really, it can do a lot of things.
But building a boat-towing, people-hauling luxo-barge does not necessitate the use of antiquated technology. Ladder frames are fine if you’re going to be doing heavy off-roading, but with the Lexus’s low-hanging fascias and running boards, along with its target demographic, you can bet your ass it won’t see any real off-roading until its drunk 16 year-old third owner decides to impress his high school friends by taking it off a sweet jump.
And the engine’s power to displacement numbers are not from this decade, making only 301 baby ponies from 4.6-liters.
But the inside isn’t much better. Sure, the seats are soft, but our Andrew Collins said in his review that the console “felt more like the AIWA stereo I had in middle school; big heaps of bold plastic surrounding a primitive and seriously overstyled digital display.”
Andrew also commented on the GX’s poor fuel economy, slow acceleration, uninspiring braking and “egregious” body roll, ultimately concluding: “I have no idea how Lexus convinces people to give them $60,000 for these things considering the alternatives.”
So, if you’re considering purchasing a GX, or if you’ve already done so, we’re going to need to you stop by Jalopnik’s top-secret laboratory, where we’ll hook up some probes to your cerebellum, run some tests and see if we can figure out what’s going on in that head of yours.
For a small fee, we might actually fix you so you can return to the normal state of loving rear-wheel drive brown diesel manual wagons.
The U.S. version of the Lexus GX 460 launched at the 2009 LA Auto Show as a 2010 model. It offered a new 301 horsepower V8 mated to a six-speed auto, new exterior styling, a fresh interior, 10 airbags, an available pre-collision system, a standard power-fold third row seat, full-time four-wheel drive with a locking rear diff and low range, seating for seven, heated and vented seats, rain-sensing wipers, a power moonroof and tons of other gadgets.
That’s a lot of good stuff, though its styling was snooze-worthy and its ladder-frame chassis was straight out of the stone ages.
Lexus sat on their hands for a few years and made very few changes to the big boat-towing Lexus. But in 2014, they gave it a much-needed refresh. The new model got Lexus’s signature “Spindle Grille,” standard LED headlights, a bigger touchscreen for its revised infotainment system, an updated rear fascia, new driver-assist tech and some changes to the trim levels and pricing.
For 2015, Lexus added Siri Eyes Free, and for the ‘16 model year, Lexus added a “Sepia NuLuxe” interior trim.
So, while the updates mean the new GX may not look old, its underpinnings and powertrain are being dug up by archeologists and radiocarbon-dated to the Jurassic era.
The Lexus GX comes in three forms: GX 460, GX 460 Premium and GX 460 Luxury, all of which come with four-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission and a 4.6-liter V8.
All GXs come with hydraulic power steering, a double-wishbone front suspension design and a four-link solid axle setup in the rear. Brakes are 13.3-inch vented rotors up front and 12.3-inch vented discs out back.
The base GX gets 18-inch alloy wheels, leatherette seats, a backup camera, moonroof, towing system, 10-way power front seats, dual-zone climate control, 10 airbags, LED headlamps and daytime running lights, and Bluetooth for about 50 grand.
We wouldn’t buy a GX, since we think there are better alternatives, but if someone told us we had to choose between a GX and a Jeep Compass, we’d go ahead and grab the GX 460 Premium, which adds leather seats, three-zone climate control, LED fog-lamps, Parking Assist and wood interior trim and brings us to a total of $55,525 with destination.
MSRP: $50,140-$61,515 Top Speed: 110 MPH (limited)
Acceleration: 7.8s to 60
MPG: 15 city/ 20 hwy / 17 combined
Engines: 4.6L V8
Max Horsepower/Torque: 301 hp/329 lb-ft
Max Advertised Towing Capacity: 6,500 lbs
Curb Weight: 5,130-5,199 pounds IIHS Rating: Not Fully Tested
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, 4WD
Photo credit: Lexus