By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
Surrounded by newer Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz designs, the 2017 Lexus GX 460 is quickly becoming the odd man out. Its body-on-frame construction makes it capable of tremendous off-road feats, yet also contributes to its rather stiff ride and brutish cornering. Based on the Toyota 4Runner, the GX 460 luxury SUV is jam-packed with Lexus’ best amenities, safety features and technology. Still, competitors such as the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and Infiniti QX60 offer similar luxury but with a more car-like ride and handling. And while these SUVs can all handle deep snow, gravel roads and muddy trails, none can handle the rough stuff like the 2017 GX 460.
If you need the towing, hauling and off-road ability only a truck-based SUV can provide, but you’re looking for a premium brand with all the bells and whistles, Lexus’ GX 460 for 2017 certainly deserves a spot on your shopping list.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2017 Lexus GX 460 SUV gains a new Sport Design package while 2nd-row captain’s-chair seating becomes standard on the top-level GX 460 Luxury. Heated and ventilated front seats become a stand-alone option.
Because of its rigid chassis and off-road-oriented suspension, the 2017 Lexus GX 460 won’t ride or handle like a sporty luxury sedan, and for this it makes no...
... apologies. The rugged fully-boxed frame, big tires and full-time 4-wheel-drive setup make the GX 460 deliver a rather truck-like driving experience with steering that is sometimes slow to respond to input. If you’re looking for a boulevard cruiser, you might want to look at a crossover SUV like the Mercedes-Benz GLS. But in areas where a luxury SUV is needed to work, the GX’s 301-horsepower V8 and smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic have what it takes to tackle the most stubborn off-road obstacles and provide up to 6,500 pounds of trailer-towing tenacity. Doing its best to keep everything under control is Lexus’ Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that helps lessen body lean in curves but provide greater wheel articulation and traction when needed.
KINETIC DYNAMIC SUSPENSION SYSTEM (KDSS)
This brilliant setup employs extremely stiff anti-roll bars that minimize lean on paved roads but permit increased suspension travel on the uneven surfaces usually encountered during off-road jaunts.
COMPREHENSIVE FULL-TIME 4-WHEEL DRIVE
The 2017 Lexus GX 460 has one of the most capable off-road systems available. A Torsen torque-sensing limited-slip center differential includes electronic locking for even power distribution front and rear, while Active Traction Control helps keep all four wheels connected to the terra firma, regardless of surface conditions or weather.
The 2017 Lexus GX 460 has 3-row, 7-passenger seating; a 40/20/40-split 2nd-row bench seat and flat-folding 3rd-row seat offer numerous configurations for people and cargo. Front-seat comfort is terrific, the second row is adequate for adults and the third best for children. The base version has NuLuxe upholstery while the Premium trim gets real leather. Instrumentation is easy to see and controls easy to reach but there are lots of them; the instrument panel’s center stack contains the sound and climate systems and in the center console are controls for the 4-wheel-drive system. It’s all finished impeccably.
The GX 460’s tall, square-shouldered shape is clear evidence of its robust off-road intentions; no rounded-over aerodynamic teardrop this. But that tall shape pays dividends. Entry and exit are high, but the doors are big, and ample standard running boards make the step easy. Some may like, some may dislike the rear door; it’s a side-opening arrangement, hinged on the right, which can make loading from curbside awkward and is inconvenient when carrying long stuff home from the lumberyard. On the other hand, for loading luggage or groceries you don’t have to lean in over a swing-down tailgate.
In base form, the Lexus GX 460 is well equipped with synthetic leather interior, wood trim, 10-way-power front seats, dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, power moonroof and power-operated tilt/telescope steering wheel -- always a nice touch. Entertainment and phone connectivity are provided by a 9-speaker AM/FM/CD display audio system with 8-inch touch screen and Bluetooth, dual USB inputs and the new Siri Eyes Free iPhone compatibility. On the safety side, there are 10 airbags, active headrests to reduce the severity of whiplash, and Lexus’ Safety Connect system with 24/7 emergency services.
While the base GX 460 is a good value we recommend the Premium trim; it’s only slightly over $4,000 more but includes leather, 3-zone automatic climate control with interior air filter, mahogany trim, LED foglights and Intuitive Parking Assist. We think that represents reasonable value for the money. Top-line Luxury models include Adaptive Variable Suspension, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, captain’s-chair 2nd-row seating, power-folding outside mirrors, wood and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel and power-fold-flat 3rd-row seats. Other available options include a 17-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio system, the Driver Support Package and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system.
The 2017 Lexus GX 460 has a 4.6-liter V8 of 301 horsepower and a 6-speed automatic transmission. With its off-road intentions, the GX 460 has an impressive full-time 4-wheel-drive system with a 2-speed transfer case and lockable center differential. This capability does not arrive without a price, and that’s fuel consumption; the EPA numbers are 15-mpg city, 18-mpg highway and 16 combined. If, like most people, you drive on the pavement your taxes paid for, there are many alternatives that are more refined and use less gas, such as the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec, Infiniti QX60 hybrid and BMW X5. All will beat the GX 460 in fuel economy, but not in climbing over, around and through boulders and mud.
301 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
329 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/18 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Lexus GX 460 has a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right around $52,300; fully loaded, it easily tops $70,000. At its base price, the GX costs more than every likely competitor except the BMW X5, which is slightly higher, so it’s not a bargain item. But it is a quality piece of work, with great fit and finish and a proven record of dependable reliability. We recommend the GX 460 with the Premium package for its value for the money. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the GX 460. While the Lexus starts several thousand dollars higher than most competitors, it holds its value exceptionally well. In fact, in the past it has won the KBB.com Best Resale Value Award for Luxury Mid-Size SUV/Crossover. Inexpensive? No. Great long-term value? Yes.