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Reviewed: Lexus 2021 GX 460 – Dated tech but great off-road

Since Toyota announced the end of its infamous Land Cruiser, die-hard off-roaders should be checking out the Lexus GX 460 as a viable solution. It’s really the only SUV left in the Lexus line-up that’s built for off-roading and has some great aftermarket solutions to really kick it up a notch. In fact, over the past several years, the GX 460 has built-up quite the loyal fan base. It’s more affordable than the Land Cruiser and Lexus LX while still retaining much of the off-road prowess.

Under the hood:

Before we get into why it’s great off-road, here’s a peek under its hood. You’ll find a naturally aspirated, 4.6-liter V8 engine. It’s rated at 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque. Lexus claims that it’s good for towing up to 6,500 pounds. Power delivery comes through a 6-speed automatic transmission with a dual-range gearbox that feeds all four wheels. Unfortunately, the GX 460 is a thirsty beast. Its EPA rating is only 19 miles per gallon on the highway and a paltry 15 around town.

Not much has changed, really, on the exterior but there is one noticeable change and that’s the upgrade to the silver 18-inch wheels available on the Premium and Premium Plus models. Outside of that, we still see its masculine look with bold lines that actually look really good. Lexus’s great-looking triple-beam headlights are great as well as their very bright fog lamps. It has ground clearance of 8.1 inches.

What else is new for 2021 besides the aforementioned 18-inch wheels?

Available Premium Plus packages
Heated Wood-trimmed Steering Wheel available on Premium and Premium Plus packages
Acoustic front side glass on all models
Amazon Alexa compatibility

Quite the short list. It’s rather interesting to see how the GX 460 has got to be the least-updated vehicle in the entire Lexus line-up yet still continues to sell rather well. Why? Well, it’s one of the few body-on-frame SUVs available and the only one available in the luxury class. Add in its legendary all-wheel-drive system and you’ll begin to see why so many folks love it.

Inside:

Our test model had the snazzy “Rioja Red” leather that made for a great looking, modern contrast to the silver exterior. The front heated and ventilated seats are both power adjustable and make for a comfortable, supportive ride — even on longer road trips. There’s plenty of room in the second row for two adults while the third row, well, let’s just say kids fit better back there.

Second row passengers also get their own captain chairs and climate controls with USB outlets, the ability to move front to back and even do a bit of reclining.

Cargo room isn’t the GX’s strong point as it trails behind the competition in this area. Even with both rows of passenger seats folded down, you only have about 64 cubic feet of space. While that’s not terrible, the more conventional unibody design.

One other interesting point is that the GX 460 has a swing-out back door. Not a lift-gate-type like seen on most of today’s SUVs. While this does give you more access to the actual opening, it can certainly make things like parallel parking with someone parked closely behind, a challenge.

It’s hard to ignore the extremely dated-looking dash. The “metal look” plastic bezel around the infotainment system should have been put out to pasture, years ago. However, the Mark Levinson audio system does provide excellent sound reproduction – in fact, it has few rivals from competing vehicles. Even though the interface screen is dated, the navigation system is rather easy to use with the included voice command feature. Unfortunately, there’s no support here for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Driving:

Even though it’s very quiet and comfortable on the road, it’s off-road where the GX 460 excels. It’s advanced crawl control allows the all-wheel-drive system to work in conjunction with the engine and braking system to let you crawl up rough terrain or down it — even with your foot off of the brake. For added traction assist, there is Lexus’ MTR or Multi-Terrain Select system. This lets you choose between rock, rock and dirt, mogul, loose rock or mud and sand type of terrain.

While its standard all-season-tires are adequate for daily driving, we did have the chance to test them in our local mountains during a snowstorm. Even though there was slipping here and there, they did manage to get us around without ever feeling out of control. Bear in mind, however, we’re talking a few inches of compact snow on a major freeway and not very deep snow. For conditions much worse than we drove in, we’d definitely recommend winter tires.

So who’s the customer for the GX 460? Outdoor enthusiasts who have disposable income that want a quiet, safe SUV that can be used for far more than a pavement princess with Lexus reliability. In fact, if you scour YouTube, you’ll find plenty of videos of folks doing crazy things with slightly modified GX 460s.

Car Coach Rating:

Performance: 8
Handling: 8
Safety: 9
Features: 7
Design: 9
Quality: 9
Value: 7
Seating Comfort: 7
Visibility: 8
Technology: 6
Car Coach Total: 78

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