by Frank A. Aukofer ~

While many SUVs have adopted the car-based crossover model, Lexus has stuck to its rugged body on frame construction with the 2022 GX 460. It imparts more off-road chops than you’d expect in a pricey luxury SUV (unless it happens to be a Land Rover).

At the same time, the GX 460 — in Luxury guise for this review — delivers a lush roadworthy ambiance for long trips on the Interstates. Handling is smooth, the ride is supple and comfortable, and the upscale audio system does not suffer from intrusive engine, road, or wind noise.

There are four versions, called trim levels in the industry, with the well-equipped base model starting at $56,500, including the destination charge, and escalating through the Premium and Black Line Special Edition to the tested Luxury model, which starts at $66,010. With options, the tester’s sticker came to $71,960. 

Even the base model comes well equipped. Safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking with passenger detection, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking assist. 

There’s also a 10.3-inch touch screen for the infotainment system that includes a navigation system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SXM satellite radio. Additional features include automatic climate control, semi-aniline leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, illuminated running boards, and power-folding and heated outside mirrors. Bluetooth connectivity enables audio streaming and hands-free telephone.

Options on the Luxury model included the $1,134 Mark Levinson audio system with 17 speakers; a $1,570 off-road package; 19-inch dark gray alloy wheels, second-row tilt-and-slide captain’s chairs, and a ball tow hitch. 

Because of its truck-like body on frame construction and more than eight inches of ground clearance, the GX 460 should have solid all-terrain capabilities, though, at 16 feet, it’s long for tight maneuvering. The tested Luxury model’s optional off-road package included multi-terrain selectable driving modes, panoramic view monitors, a transmission cooler, fuel tank protector, and low-speed crawl control.

The second-row captain’s chairs limit this three-row sport utility vehicle to six passengers because the cramped third row accommodates only two. Moreover, converting the GX 460 from a two-row, four-passenger SUV to a six-passenger is an exercise in grunts and frustration, despite its power-folding third-row seats.

First, you must remove the crosswise metal bar containing the cargo area cover — a chore in itself. Then you must figure out a place to stash it. Lift the carpet and/or rubber mat that covers the cargo floor and put that someplace. Finally, touch a button that raises the two folded seats from the floor.

You can access the third row by squeezing between the two second-row seats, assuming the cargo cover bar and floor carpet don’t block the area, or you can slide and tilt one of the second-row captain’s chairs. Either way, you wind up with a two-passenger third row with headroom but little space for knees or feet.

Another drawback is access. Instead of a conventional tailgate that opens at the bottom up to the sky, the GX 460 has a sideways opening hinged at the right side. That’s likely because of its origin as a right-hand drive vehicle in Japan, but it doesn’t work well for the U.S., where we drive on the right in left-hand drive vehicles. 

Parking at a curb and putting cargo into the back requires the loader to stand out in the street instead of working next to the curb. The loader also must walk around the open door, which fortunately has a strut with a locking device to hold it open.

The GX 460, though all-new for the first time in a decade, exhibits some vintage traits, notably the 4.6-liter V8 engine, which delivers 301 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. On the tester, the power made its way to all four wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode.

Despite the 5,266-pound weight, it’s enough to propel the GX 460 to 60 mph in the seven-second range, according to independent tests, which is respectable by current standards. The penalty comes in fuel economy, rated by the EPA at 15/19/16 mpg in city/highway/combined driving. It will be way less if an owner uses the 6,500-pound towing capability.

Though there are few three-row luxury SUVs in the GX 460’s price class, Lexus has a stellar reputation for reliability. Never mind the side-opening tailgate. 

Specifications

  • Model: 2022 Lexus GX 460 Luxury four-door sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 4.6-liter V8; 301 hp, 309 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet.
  • Height: 6 feet 2 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger volume: 130/12 cubic feet. (47, 65).
  • Weight: 5,266 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 6,500 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 15/19/16 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge:  $66,010.
  • Price as tested: $71,960.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Lexus