"This is my gift, my curse." While we don't normally begin our reviews with quotes from popular superhero films, the above reference does do a respectable job of encapsulating the core essence of the 2014 Lexus GX 460. Riding atop a reinforced boxed ladder frame, the Lexus GX can conquer all manner of challenging off-road situations without breaking a sweat. But when it comes time for urban duty, the GX's excessively rugged underpinnings produce a ride quality that is decidedly less forgiving than that of the BMW X5, Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Nevertheless, practical incentives like a strong record for reliability and above-average residual values make the Lexus GX a recommendable buy for the adventurous-yet-sensible luxury SUV shopper.
You'll Like This Car If...
If exceptional off-road capability, a host of standard features including 4-wheel-drive (4WD), and superb value-for-dollar are paramount in your next luxury SUV purchase, the 2014 Lexus GX could be the one. However, we strongly suggest back-to-back test drives of the GX and its closest competitors on rough pavement.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're like most SUV buyers, hardcore off-roading capability seems about as important as helmets for skydivers. Those who are looking for a better balance of on-road comfort and athleticism should consider the Acura MDX, BMW X5, or Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
Cresting the halfway point of its current lifecycle, the Lexus GX sees a number of changes for 2014. Highlights include a larger 8-inch touch-screen display (up from seven inches), Lexus' 8th-generation infotainment system, standard LED headlights, a newly available blind-spot monitoring system, and revised front and rear bodywork.
Driving the GX
Even though it's luxurious and nicely appointed, the 2014 Lexus GX 460 gives the strong impression that its natural habitat is out in the dirt and rocks. The GX 460's...
... fully boxed frame withstands the abuses of extreme off-road excursions but is not ideal on the pavement. The overall ride quality is certainly acceptable, but not quite up to Lexus standards. On the other hand, the GX 460's potent 301-horsepower V8, responsive and smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission and proper 2-speed transfer case combine to make short work of most any task on most any surface. The GX even tows up to 6,500 pounds. To help counteract the potential cornering awkwardness of a tall SUV, the GX 460 has what Lexus calls a "Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System" that decreases body lean with its massive anti-roll bars or, when needed, automatically relaxes sway control for increased wheel articulation and greater traction off road.
KINETIC DYNAMIC SUSPENSION SYSTEM (KDSS) During serious off-road driving, standard KDSS maximizes suspension travel in order to keep the tires on the ground. Without it, a tire would remain in the air over deep moguls when either the front or rear suspension has reached its natural limit of travel.
WIDE-VIEW FRONT AND SIDE MONITOR The 2014 Lexus GX 460 offers a pair of cameras integrated within the front grille and passenger-side outside mirror for improved outward vision when exiting a parking structure or parking adjacent to a curb.
2014 Lexus GX Details
Along with the impeccable finish quality found inside most Lexus models, the GX 460 offers comfortable accommodations for up to seven and class-leading cargo space. A 40/20/40-split second-row seat, combined with a convenient power fold-flat third-row seat, provides a variety of configurations for people, cargo or both. Save for the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class, materials quality is on par with other midsize luxury SUVs. On the technology front, the 2014 GX 460 now offers Lexus' latest infotainment platform, which consists of a user-friendly touch screen interface, a configurable home screen, and real-time traffic, weather, sports and stock market data through SiriusXM.
Lexus designers sculpted the exterior of the 2014 GX 460 to give the impression it was cut from a single block of metal. The GX 460 offers standard running boards with integrated courtesy lights to help facilitate ingress and egress from the vehicle. In place of a versatile rear liftgate, the GX continues to use an outmoded barn-door-style, side-hinged rear door that can complicate loading and unloading cargo at the curb or in tight garages. On a brighter note, behind the standard 18-inch alloy wheels lie substantial 13.3-inch front disc brakes to help tame the GX 460's substantial weight and power.
Although it carries a slightly higher starting price, the 2014 Lexus GX 460 offers a longer list of standard equipment than the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Infiniti QX60, and Audi Q7. For about $50,000, the GX 460 includes full-time 4WD, a moonroof, keyless access and start, a 10-way power driver's seat, LED headlights that consume less energy than even the most efficient xenon setups, a backup camera, and a 9-speaker audio system linked to an 8-inch touch screen. On the safety side of the ledger, every Lexus GX includes 10 airbags, active headrests to reduce the severity of whiplash, and Lexus' Safety Connect telematics system with 24/7 emergency services.
Navigation notwithstanding, the GX 460's most enticing options are part of the $5,900 Comfort Package. The likes of which include semi-aniline leather upholstery, heated rear seats, and a blind-spot monitor with a rear cross-traffic-alert function that warns you of oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking spot (essential in a large SUV). The range-topping Luxury trim level offers high-end options like a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system, a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment center, and dynamic radar cruise control that maintains a preset distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
Under the Hood
Both GX 460 model grades are powered by an all-aluminum 4.6-liter V8 engine that makes 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque. This sole engine choice is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sequential shift mode. The standard full-time 4WD system uses a 2-speed transfer case with lockable center differential. This is serious off-road kit. Though Lexus claims the GX 460 features best-in-class V8 fuel economy, competitors with V6 engines and comparable power outputs, such as the BMW X5 and Acura MDX, edge the GX 460 in terms of EPA-rated fuel efficiency.
With the exception of the BMW X5, which opens at roughly $53,700, the 2014 Lexus GX has the highest starting price in the category. Beginning around $50,000, the GX 460 commands a $1,500 premium over the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Audi Q7, and nearly $7,000 over the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60. While fully-loaded prices of the Acura and Infiniti still undercut the GX 460 by a few thousand dollars, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, BMW X5 and Audi Q7 can easily breach the $72,000 mark with all the options boxes checked. Compare that to the GX 460's loaded sticker price of $67,500, factor in some of the strongest resale values in the segment, and the Lexus is – at least at this price point – a relative bargain. To see what others in your area are currently paying for the 2014 GX 460, be sure to take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price tool.
Pros: "very comfortable car for driver and passengers"
Cons: "Outside RV mirror switch inconvenient"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great handling car. The GX has a comfortable ride, is very quiet, yet is a fun car to drive. The steering is comfortable but keeps you in touch with the road. It is roomy yet compact enough for easy parking and handling."
"Bought my 2011 with 29,000 miles on it. She was a certified vehicle that came with a 100,000 mile warranty. I have driven this vehicle for 2 years and it now has 81,000 miles on it. Have owned a couple of Land Cruisers in the past and absolutely loved them but am now single so the size of the GX is perfect for me. Drives and rides much like my Land Cruisers but a little more nimble since it's smaller. Of course, the gas mileage isn't great. I'm getting about 17mpg overall and am thrilled that gas prices are way down from the $4/gal price when I bought her. I may not use my GX for scaling near verticle hillsides but I do have a cabin in the mountains and have found her to be a very capable 4 wheel drive. Plan to drive her at least another 80,000 miles!"
Cons: "the very senstive steering is driving me crazy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I am 6'3", so finding something that is comfortable is very important. This is my first Lexus SUV, and for the most part, it has been good. But the sensitive steering is not what I expect in this type vehicle. It drifts from one side to the other depending on the wind and the slant or divets in the pavement. Hold on to the steering wheel or you will wind up on the side of the road."