New Car Review: Lexus GX460

front 3/4 view of 2013 Lexus GX460

15 years as a professional TireKicker (automotive journalist) and there are still things to learn.

When I got the Lexus GX460 for a week, I thought it was a spectacularly dumb design for one thing...the tailgate. The window would open upward, but the whole assembly didn't swing up and the gate below the window wouldn't swing down. Drove me nuts. Why would Lexus build a $60,000 SUV and make you load the cargo compartment from the rear seat?

A few hours later, my teenage son walked up to the GX for the first time, and opened the door out to the side.


I could cut myself some slack and say it's an unusual, if not unique design for a rear door on a big SUV, but for many years I owned a Suburban with barn doors, so I really have no excuse.

Why am I telling you this? Because it's the only thing I could find wrong with the GX460...and it wasn't.

Rear 3/4 view of 2013 Lexus GX460

Oh, on some level I could argue that it's too big, too heavy, too thirsty....but big and heavy are as big and heavy do and the GX460 doesn't drive big and heavy. It's nowhere near as ponderous as a Nissan Armada or Infiniti QX56. Thirsty I could probably make stick. The EPA says 15 city, 20 highway, and cracking 17 in a mix of the two was a chore.

But as with most vehicles with the big stylized "L" on the grille, it's about what you get for your money...and for the base price of $58,240, the GX is very well equipped.

It's certainly not wanting for power, with a 301 horsepower 4.6 liter V8, the 6-speed automatic makes the fuel economy as good (relatively) as it is (c'mon, 8-speed), it is more than capable off road and in bad weather, with full-time four-wheel drive and a Torsen limited-slip center differential, and it's civilized on pavement thanks to a kinetic dynamic suspension system.

interior view of 2013 Lexus GX460

And then there are the niceties. Every safety technology known to man. 10-way power heated/ventilated front seats, wood interior trim, memory for the seats, steering wheel and mirrors, a reclining, sliding 60/40 second-row seat and a power fold-flat 50/50 third row seat. There's a moonroof, a nine-speaker audio system, with 6-disc CD changer, USB, Bluetooth and satellite radio, privacy glass and as David Bowie once said, "leather, leather, everywhere."

But wait...there's more, if you're willing to pay for it. The options on our tester included a nav system with upgraded Mark Levinson audio system including 17-speaker 7.1 surround with audio and video ($3,930), Intuitive Parking Assist ($500) and wide-view front and side monitor, pre-collision system with driver attention monitor, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, intelligent high beam headlamps and crawl control ($3,170). Oh, and $64 for a cargo net.

With $895 destination, it came to $66,799.

Cheap? Hardly.

Overpriced? Um....no. Not when you look at the competition and the level of equipment and capability. And the back door opens!