Is This Ancient SUV Still Relevant in 2020?


It is really easy to lose monitor of time. One week melts into the following till February turns into July and also you look again and suppose, “What the heck occurred?” I do know I am not the one one who feels this manner. Lexus undoubtedly does, too.

Living proof: the 2020 Lexus GX 460. In automotive phrases, it is not simply outdated, it is positively historical—11 mannequin years historical, to be precise. Most sedans get redesigned each 5 years; SUVs and vehicles get redone each six or seven laps across the solar. So it is secure to say the GX is fairly properly behind the curve.

However that does not imply outdated issues are inherently unhealthy, so we took a have a look at this automotive artifact to see if it is nonetheless related in 2020.

If you stroll as much as it, you in all probability would not be capable of guess that this automotive has been in manufacturing since President Obama’s first yr in workplace. Whereas most self-proclaimed SUVs now experience on modified automotive or minivan platforms, the GX stays one of many few rock-crawlers with old-school body-on-frame roots.

For 2020 the GX obtained a radical, extra good-looking styling makeover, bringing it in step with the remainder of the Lexus lineup by way of design. Different element modifications quantity to some new commonplace security gear, an non-obligatory off-road package deal (which our check automobile had), a brand new transmission cooler, and two USB ports within the again. Thrilling stuff, I do know.

Step inside, nevertheless, and the GX’s outdated bones instantly turn out to be obvious. The Lexus infotainment system is from a totally completely different period. There isn’t any Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, and the middle stack is clad in some fairly chintzy plastic. There is a little bit of uncovered wooden right here and there, and the entrance seats are exceptionally comfy, however past that the inside of this beast is in dire want of an entire overhaul to make it really feel fashionable.

I say beast as a result of it’s. The GX is a monster of an SUV—and it isn’t even the most important one Lexus makes. The final time we weighed one, it got here in at a hefty 5,211 kilos. It is also 16 ft lengthy and practically as extensive as a college bus. But third-row legroom is cramped at finest. Mix that girth with its outdated 301-hp 4.6-liter V-8, and the Lexus’ mpg suffers. In keeping with the EPA, the GX 460 will get 15/19/16 mpg metropolis/freeway/mixed.

Put all these items collectively, and the large Lexus turns into one heck of a conundrum. Why would anybody pay $54,000-$73,000 for one thing this outdated, inefficient, and seemingly so out of contact with what modern-day SUV patrons need? I used to be actually beginning to doubt the validity of the GX 460 and puzzled why Lexus hadn’t retired the outdated canine totally.

Then, as if by sheer unhealthy timing alone, a chance offered itself. In April and early Might, California’s Antelope Valley is awash with what’s colloquially generally known as the “tremendous bloom.” The annual California poppy explosion emerges throughout lots of of acres of land, and households flock to the poppy reserve to witness what’s a very unbelievable sight. In keeping with Instagram, this yr’s bloom was unbelievable, and I believed, as a final hoorah earlier than I gave the Lexus again, I might make a journey there to see the poppies for myself.

I wrangled a number of associates who accompanied me in a 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Street—extra on that in a second—and we set off to see what is likely to be left of the bloom. In brief, we have been too late. All of the poppies had already died off, and I used to be left to consider how I used to be going to spend the day if I could not frolic within the fields. Properly, as luck would have it, there are a plethora of locations to go off-roading throughout Antelope Valley. Any of them would give the GX 460 a shot at redemption. What might this barge do when taken off the crushed monitor? I used to be about to search out out.

First, to the paths. The Lexus and its full-time four-wheel-drive system mowed via the filth and sand with ease, even when I did really feel chagrined about probably scratching its Atomic Silver paint with some desert pinstriping. After a brief drive we arrived at some hills that overlook the would-be poppy fields. Most folk must make their method up these inclines on foot as a result of boulders current an impediment to something that is not tall or properly suited to the climb. However the GX skipped up the hill like a 5,200-pound mountain goat with leather-based seats.

Not as soon as throughout your complete day did the Lexus get caught in sand, protest steep climbs, slide down considerably treacherous descents, and even appear to thoughts the huge potholes that littered the filth roads. My off-roading skills are nearer to these of a median shopper than Ironman Stewart, however the GX and I scampered via all of it with ease. What’s extra, I did not even want to make use of the low-range gearbox or the crawl controls the off-road package deal provides.

Again to that Tacoma. You may suppose the midsize pickup (particularly, in off-road guise) would be capable of go locations the Lexus could not throughout our little journey. Nonetheless, every thing the Tacoma did, the GX did too, however with an added diploma of consolation I am sure was lacking within the pickup’s cabin. The non-obligatory cooled seats, for instance, have been a blessing on that scorching afternoon. The Mark Levinson sound system blasted Bon Jovi’s “Needed Lifeless or Alive” into my eardrums as I fueled my internal hair-metal insurgent.

The GX made all of it too straightforward, on trails and paths that 90 % of Lexus house owners would encounter and say, “No, thanks.” The experience off-road was a contact bouncy at occasions, however on the entire I discovered the Lexus managed its appreciable mass properly. Grip was ever-present, too. Even on regular, all-season tires, the GX by no means wished for traction. After three hours of steady off-roading, I used to be beginning to see the sunshine.

Throughout my time out within the filth, the outdated GX made good. All of the compromises that make it troublesome to stay with throughout on a regular basis transport on tarmac and asphalt—like its agency experience and very heavy steering—lastly made sense to me. Even when I did not push the Lexus close to its limits that day, I noticed the GX 460 is a supremely succesful luxury-oriented SUV.

That mentioned, there are definitely extra present, succesful, and opulent SUVs on the market (a decade is endlessly in car-development R&D), and plenty of of them will fortunately take you off pavement, too. In case your pockets aren’t deep sufficient for the Lexus, you may go for its cheaper, platform mate, the Toyota 4Runner—however you undergo a smaller engine and narrower cabin, and lose all of the luxe trim.

That leaves us again the place we began. Does this SUV from the naughts have a spot in 2020? Sure, it is an imperfect but worthy companion. However in case you purchase certainly one of these and by no means take it off-road, you are lacking the purpose totally.

2020 Lexus GX 460
BASE PRICE $54,025
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 4.6L/301-hp/329-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automated
CURB WEIGHT 5,150-5,200 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 109.Eight in
L x W x H 192.1 x 74.2 x 73.8-74.2 in
0-60 MPH 7.5 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 15/19/16 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 225/177 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.17 lb/mile (est)
ON SALE At the moment

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