Is This Ancient SUV Still Relevant in 2020?
It is so easy to waste time. One week merges into the next until February becomes July and you look back and think, “What happened?” I know that I am not the only one to feel this. Lexus certainly does too.
Example: the 2020 Lexus GX 460. In automotive terms, it is not only old, it is positively old, 11 model years to be exact. Most sedans are redesigned every five years; SUVs and trucks are rebuilt every six or seven laps around the sun. So it is safe to say that the GX is quite well behind the curve.
But that doesn’t mean the old things are inherently bad, so we looked at this automotive artifact to see if it was still relevant in 2020.
When you get close, you probably won’t be able to guess that this car has been in production since President Obama’s first year in power. While most self-proclaimed SUVs now run on modified car or minivan platforms, the GX remains one of the few tracked robots with old-fashioned body roots.
For 2020, the GX has undergone a thorough and more elegant styling makeover, which makes it conform to the rest of the Lexus range in terms of design. Other changes in detail include new standard safety equipment, an optional off-road package (which our test vehicle had), a new transmission cooler and of them Rear USB ports. Exciting stuff, I know.
Step inside, however, and the old bones of the GX become immediately apparent. The Lexus infotainment system is from a completely different era. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, and the central battery is covered with a fairly shiny plastic. There’s a bit of exposed wood here and there, and the front seats are exceptionally comfortable, but beyond that, the interior of this beast is in dire need of a complete overhaul to make it modern.
I say silly because it is. The GX is an SUV monster – and it’s not even the biggest that Lexus makes. The last time we weighed one, it came to a hefty 5,211 pounds. It is also 16 feet long and almost as wide as a school bus. However, the third row legroom is tight at best. Combine this circumference with its old 4.6-liter V8 with 301 horsepower, and the Lexus mpg suffers. According to the EPA, the GX 460 gets 15/19/16 mpg city / highway / combined.
Put all of these things together, and the great Lexus becomes a big conundrum. Why would someone pay between $ 54,000 and $ 73,000 for something so old, ineffective and seemingly so out of touch with what modern SUV buyers want? I was really beginning to doubt the validity of the GX 460 and wondered why Lexus hadn’t completely removed the old dog.
Then, as if by bad timing, an opportunity presented itself. In April and early May, Antelope Valley in California is bursting with what is colloquially known as “super bloom”. The annual California poppy explosion emerges on hundreds of acres of land, and families flock to the poppy reserve to witness a truly incredible sight. According to Instagram, this year’s bloom was incredible, and I thought, as the last hoorah before I returned the Lexus, that I would go on a trip to see the poppies for myself.
I quarreled with a few friends who accompanied me in a 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road – more on that in a moment – and we left to see what might be left of the bloom. In short, we were too late. All the poppies were already dead and I had to think about how I was going to spend the day if I couldn’t frolic in the fields. Well, as luck would have it, there are a plethora of places for off-roading throughout the Antelope Valley. Any of them would give the GX 460 a buyout chance. What could this barge do off the beaten track? I was about to find out.
First, on the trails. The Lexus and its full-time four-wheel drive system easily mowed in dirt and sand, although I felt embarrassed that I could possibly scratch its atomic silver paint with desert stripes. After a short drive, we arrived at a few hills that overlook the potential poppy fields. Most people should climb these slopes on foot, as rocks are a barrier to anything that is not large or well suited for climbing. But the GX climbed the hill like a 5,200-pound mountain goat with leather seats.
Not once during the day did the Lexus get stuck in the sand, protest steep climbs, slide down somewhat dangerous descents, or even seem to do watch out for the huge potholes that littered the dirt roads. My off-road capabilities are closer to that of an average consumer than Ironman Stewart, but the GX and I have come through it all with ease. In addition, I didn’t even have to use the low-end gearbox or the crawl to control the supplies of the all-terrain pack.
Let’s go back to this Tacoma. You might think that the mid-size pickup (in particular, all-terrain) could go to places the Lexus couldn’t during our little adventure. However, everything the Tacoma did, the GX did too, but with an added degree of comfort, I’m sure it was missing from the pick-up cabin. The optional cooled seats, for example, were a blessing on this scorching afternoon. The Mark Levinson audio system infused Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” into my eardrums as I fed my inner hair out of rebellious metal.
The GX has made it far too easy, on the trails and paths that 90% of Lexus owners would meet and say, “No, thank you.” Off-road driving was sometimes spirited, but overall, I found that the Lexus controlled its considerable mass well. Grip was always there too. Even on normal all-season tires, the GX never wanted traction. After three hours of continuous off-roading, I started to see the light.
During my day in the earth, the old GX did well. All the compromises that make it difficult to live with the daily transportation on asphalt and asphalt – like its firm handling and extremely heavy steering – ultimately made sense to me. Even though I didn’t push the Lexus close to its limits that day, I realized that the GX 460 is an extremely powerful luxury SUV.
That said, there are certainly more current, capable and luxurious SUVs (a decade is forever in automotive development R&D), and many of them will also delight you. If your pockets are not deep enough for the Lexus, you can opt for its cheaper platform mate, the Toyota 4Runner, but you suffer from a smaller engine and a narrower cabin and lose all the trim. luxury.
This brings us back to where we started. Does this naughty SUV have a place in 2020? Yes, he is an imperfect but worthy companion. But if you buy one and never take it off-road, you miss the point completely.
|2020 Lexus GX 460|
|STARTING PRICE||$ 54,025|
|DISPOSITION||Front engine, 4×4, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||4.6L DOHC V8 with 32 valves of 301 horsepower / 329 lb-ft|
|EDGE WEIGHT||5150-5200 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||192.1 x 74.2 x 73.8-74.2 inches|
|0-60 MPH||7.5 sec (MT is)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||15/19/16 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / HIGHWAY||225/177 kW-h / 100 miles (east)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.17 lb / mile (east)|