First Drive: 2010 Lexus GX 460
Middle children often get forgotten and are forced to compete for attention with their siblings. In the Lexus family, the 2010 GX 460 finds itself in this tough spot, living in the shadows of its younger sibling, the popular RX, and it's older sibling, the larger and more illustrious LX. The GX 460, however, holds great significance among its stablemates, satisfying the needs of affluent families who need three rows of seats -- at a pricetag closer to the RX's -- but with off-road capabilities of the LX.
Inside, the 2010 Lexus GX 460 offers an impeccably trimmed interior, with leather, wood and metal accents, but on the lower center stack, you'll find switches that seem almost out of place. These controls are for off-roading, and although they make transitioning from "Hi" to "Lo" gear easy, and offer a toggle for a Crawl feature, which is like cruise control for challenging off-road conditions, allowing the driver to take their foot off the pedal and concentrate on steering through steep rocky terrain.
The biggest news for the 2010 Lexus GX 460 is its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS). KDSS comes on all GX models and modulates the suspension and stabilizer bars during on- and off-road driving. While we didn't feel that the KDSS helped much on the road, it vastly enhanced off-road driving by improving handling and allowing for all of the wheels to remain connected to the ground.
Under the hood, the GX 460 gets a new engine, a 4.6-liter V8 matched to a new six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift and a low first gear to make towing easier. With this new powertrain, the GX 460 has more horsepower, torque and achieves better gas mileage than the previous generation. The GX 460's new engine is eager, and only complained when pushed on inclines. Overall, the SUV offers a fairly comfortable ride, but continues to suffer from Toyota's vague steering. We also had high hopes for the improved suspension and stability controls, but the GX 460's ride was a bit too soft for our tastes.
The 2010 Lexus GX 460 is a niche player in the SUV game, slotting itself in between its RX and LX siblings. And while it might not seem like many families will need a mid-size SUV with the offroad capabilities that the GX 460 offers, it easily fills their needs in terms of passenger space and luxury features. We just hope that -- given the projected sale number of 14,000 for 2010 -- the GX 460 gets the attention it deserves when it shows up in dealerships this year.