Automotive

/

Home & Leisure

Eric's Autos: 2022 Lexus GX460

Eric Peters on

"Jurassic Park" was all about resurrecting the dinosaurs -- but wouldn't it be better to just keep them from going extinct in the first place?

The Lexus GX460 is one such -- and is well worth preserving.

It's been around and largely unchanged since 2010, an automotive Jurassic era ago. Most cars -- and trucks and the rest -- get a major makeover after four years; it is almost unheard-of for a vehicle to go twelve years without one.

Unless, of course, they don't need one.

What It Is

The GX is a midsized, three-row luxury SUV that's based on the Toyota 4Runner.

It is a real SUV, too, not a "crossover" SUV. Body on frame construction. Solid rear axle. V8 engine and four-wheel drive, standard. There is no turbocharger. The transmission has only six speeds. There is no 48-volt starter/generator hybrid system to complicate things.

Which probably explains why so many people continue to buy these things.

The base trim stickers for $56,700. A top-of-the-line Luxury trim lists for $66,210.

You do not have to buy a higher trim to get the 4.6-liter V8 or 4WD with low-range gearing and the heavy-duty off-road underthings. All are standard in every GX.

The Lux adds a power-folding third row, leather and wood trim and a self-leveling air suspension.

What's New

A Black Line Special Edition package has been added to the mix. It includes a set of black-anodized 18-inch wheels, "dark chrome" exterior accents, revised front and rear bumpers and a black ash steering wheel inside.

What's Good

Comes standard with things generally no longer available.

Twelve-year track record of reliability.

Mostly physical rather than digital controls are straightforward and easy to operate.

What's Not So Good

Steering is a little over-boosted and while one-finger easy, it's not as precise as it could be.

Two-row version of rival Mercedes-Benz GLE has a much roomier second row.

 

Land Rover Discovery's available six is more powerful than the GX's standard V8.

Under The Hood

This Lexus still comes standard with a V8 engine, defying the trend toward replacing these engines with what are said to be "more efficient" turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines, often paired up with some kind of "mild hybrid" system that shuts off the engine regularly -- relying on inertia and battery power to keep the vehicle moving during these intervals -- as a way to reduce fuel consumption.

But does it, really?

As it turns out, the 4.6-liter, 301 horsepower V8 that every GX comes standard with is only slightly less "efficient" than the much smaller four- and six-cylinder turbo'd and often hybridized engines that are used in rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes-Benz GLE -- both of which come standard with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines that make 296 and 255 horsepower, respectively.

EPA says the Lexo-saurus will travel 15 mpg in city driving and 19 mpg on the highway on a gallon of premium unleaded, which sounds horrendous. But the four-cylinder Disco goes ... wait for it ... 19 in the city and 22 on the highway. The Benz GLE goes a bit farther on the highway, where the EPA says it's good for 27 miles. But in the city, it's back down to 19 -- so when you average it out, it's about the same.

On The Road

Having a massive steel frame underneath you has a certain feel that having a body welded together does not. It's a pleasant heaviness that's desirable in a vehicle like this. It's a confidence-inspiring feeling when you look underneath a vehicle like this and see a heavy steel beam perimeter and know it's not going to bend if you put a floor jack under it or get hung up off-road, and which is much less likely to need welding if you get hit on the road.

With a body that's bolted to the frame, many exterior body panels can be unbolted and replaced without welding. And a heavy steel frame is probably going to endure longer -- especially against structural rust -- than a welded-together (and thinner gauge metal) body and frame.

At The Curb

This midsized Lexus comes standard with three rows, which has its pros and its cons. The obvious pro is the presence of that extra row -- and the capacity for seven people. The less obvious con is how little cargo room there is because that third row is just 11.6 cubic feet, which is comparable to the cargo capacity of a Mazda Miata roadster. But the Mazda has only two seats -- and you can't fold them to make more cargo room.

If you fold forward the GX's third row, the available cargo space expands to 64.7 cubic feet. It's not quite as much total cargo space as newer-design rivals such as the Disco and Benz offer (74.3 and 74.9 cubic feet, respectively) but as with the mpg stats, it's close enough that it doesn't make much difference. In fact, the Disco has even less space with all its seats up: just 9.1 cubic feet. The Benz GLE boasts 33.3 cubic feet -- but that's only if you skip the third row, which Mercedes charges extra for.

The Rest

This year is likely to be the last year for the GX460 as currently constituted. It is likely to be reconstituted without a V8 and possibly without body-on-frame construction.

So, this may be the last year to get one of these magnificent dinosaurs with zero miles on the clock and a new-vehicle warranty.

The Bottom Line

The GX460 is like $2 gas: a pleasant memory -- except it still exists.

========

Eric's latest book, "Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Comics

Chip Bok David M. Hitch Randy Enos John Deering For Better or For Worse Mike Smith