Derek Price, Cargazing
Lexus GX mixes capability with comfort
If you struggle to choose between buying a luxury car and an off-road SUV, the Lexus GX asks, “Why not both?”
The GX straddles the wide gap between smooth, sophisticated comfort and brutish, rugged 4x4 SUV performance. It’s designed to accomplish the same rock-crushing mission as a Land Rover, albeit with Lexus’ well-earned reputation for reliability.
Unlike the bigger and much pricier LX, though, which gets an all-new design for 2022, the GX rides on the same bones it has for many years. That means it has some old-school SUV downsides: a thirsty V8 powertrain and live rear axle that can feel unstable at times.
Some important updates in 2022 are helping it age gracefully.
A new center console makes it feel much more contemporary, including a 10.3-inch touchscreen that’s better integrated than before. It can run Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and use Amazon Alexa for voice commands.
Intuitive Parking Assist, power-folding mirrors and a navigation system are all standard equipment this year.
It’s also available with the popular Black Line Special Edition treatment that gives the GX a sinister, blacked-out look that suits this SUV well. Gloss-black wheels, a blackened chrome grille surround and lots of little details give the Black Line the same vibe as a Chicago gangster: cruel but well-dressed.
The onyx look continues on the inside, where a black headliner contrasts with gray inserts on the seats and a smoky ash wood trim. It’s a great look, assuming you don’t have pets with white fur.
While V8 engines have fallen out of fashion in the era of emission and fuel-economy restrictions, the GX’s engine does a spectacular job for people who can afford the gas bill. It’s rated for 15 mpg in city driving and 19 on the highway.
It pulls the heavy SUV like a freight train with 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque. It can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
The GX is also designed for real off-roading, including a stout, truck-like ladder frame and 8.1 inches of ground clearance. It’s available with lots of goodies that can help driving on trails, including Panoramic View Monitors, crawl control and traction settings for a wide range of terrain.
On the highway, you can tell it’s an off-road vehicle with a lumbering, heavy feeling from the driver’s seat. Lexus’ engineers did a remarkable job making the ride smooth and quiet, though, with an electronically adjustable suspension that responds to road surfaces and driver input.
Overall, this second-biggest Lexus is a perfect fit for the niche role it was designed to play: satisfying buyers who want comfort, quality and real-world capability, not just a rugged look.
Pricing starts at $56,700 for the GX 460, which comes with four-wheel drive and lots of luxury content. The Premium grade, priced from $58,035, adds three-zone climate control and heated and cooled front seats.
The Luxury trim tops the lineup at $66,210, adding features such as the adaptive variable suspension, upgraded leather and a power-folding third-row seat.