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2013 Lexus GX


2013 Lexus GX
Tackle rugged terrain in luxury.

By New Car Test Drive

Base Price (MSRP) - $53,445
As Tested (MSRP) - $66,715

Overview

The Lexus GX 460 is designed to hold up to regular use over rugged terrain and is capable of tackling the most challenging trails. The Lexus GX shares the its basic platform with the Toyota 4Runner, renowned for its off-road capability.

The 2013 GX 460 carries over unchanged from 2012. The GX 460 was all-new for 2010, and Lexus has changed only minor details since then.

The Lexus GX comes standard with a 4.6-liter V8, hence the GX 460 designation, and a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The GX seats seven. Inside is a luxurious cabin trimmed with wood and leather and equipped with heated and ventilated seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power moonroof, multimedia entertainment and other amenities. Like other luxury SUVs, there is a carefully crafted interior lighting scheme, programmable preferences for a variety of features, and the use of powered equipment that goes well beyond windows, seats and mirrors.

With body-on-frame construction and low range gearing, the GX 460 is far more rugged and powerful than the Lexus RX crossover. Unlike the RX, the GX offers excellent off-road capability. It is equipped with enhancements to make off-road driving safe and easy. It's very comfortable in town and a great setup in the backcountry. The GX can tow up to 6500 pounds with optional hitch.

The GX comes standard with a full-time four-wheel-drive system with locking center differential and low-range gearing. It's a system that requires little or no input from the driver, and it's ideal for secure travel during heavy rains and on icy roads, or on dirt/gravel surfaces.

The GX 460 competes with the Land Rover LR4. It requires premium (91 octane) gasoline.

Model Lineup

The 2013 Lexus GX 460 ($53,445) comes with leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood and leather trim, 10-way power heated front seats with memory, split 40/20/40 reclining second-row seats, split 50/50 folding third-row bench seat, AM/FM/6CD audio with nine speakers and USB/iPod connectivity, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, rearview camera, power moonroof, power windows, power locks, cruise control, 12-volt power outlet, remote keyless entry, anti-theft alarm, intermittent rear wiper, 18-inch aluminum wheels.

The GX 460 Premium ($58,240) upgrades with tri-zone air conditioning, automatic HID projector-beam headlights; cargo tonneau; Adaptive Front Lighting System; electrochromic, power-retracting outside mirrors; heated steering wheel; heated second-row seats; and Adaptive Variable Suspension.

Options include the Navigation System ($1,990) or the Mark Levinson Navigation audio package ($3,930). On the Premium model, the Wide View Monitor system ($3,170) includes a pre-collision system, Driver Attention Monitor, Lane Departure Alert, Intelligent High-Beam Headlamps, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and crawl control; or you can opt for a less comprehensive combination of pre-collision, intelligent headlamps, crawl control, radar cruise control, and Lane Departure Alert ($2,670).

Safety features that come standard on all models include advanced frontal airbags, side curtain airbags, three-point seatbelts in all positions, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, tire pressure monitor system. All Lexus vehicles are equipped with Smart Stop Technology, which automatically reduces engine power when the brake pedal and the accelerator pedal are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions.

Walkaround

The Lexus GX is a traditional SUV with body-on-frame construction, though it's slightly lower in stance than some others.

The front of the GX is dominated by a four-slot grill and compound headlamps that use separate projector lenses for low beam and Halogen lighting for the high beams (HID on Premium models), with LED turn signals in the side-view mirrors. Fog lamps are mounted separately in the lower front bumper area.

At the rear, the cargo door opens to the side, and its window can be opened separately, allowing two ways to access the luggage compartment. The rear door swings outward when released by pressing a hidden door handle located to the left of the license plate. The taillights use a cluster of LED elements to generate their glow. The rear wiper is mounted under the rear spoiler, leaving the back window free of obstruction.

Exterior trim differs very slightly between Base and Premium grades, with Premium trim levels getting telltale chrome trim around the back edge of the side quarter-window glass, and a brighter finish on the wheels.

2013 Lexus GX
2013 Lexus GX

Interior Features

The Lexus GX seats up to seven passengers and comes with three rows of seating.

The front row is spacious, with storage bins and pockets located overhead, in the center console, and side door pockets. The front seats are 10-way power adjustable, both heated and cooled. The four-spoke steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and automatically tilts away when the Power button is pushed to shut the GX off. Between the two front seats are adjustable armrests.

The center stack is designed around a 4.2-inch pushbutton display that shows trip and environment data, such as temperature, cruise range, fuel consumption, climate control settings, and so on. With the available Navigation system, an eight-inch touchscreen display is used, allowing for control of navigation, audio, climate and phone.

Controls are nicely designed and integrated, with conspicuously high-quality wood and leather materials used throughout. Redundant switches for cruise control, audio and navigation are mounted in the steering wheel.

With the wide-view monitor, the driver can check for obstructions using three different views around the GX, generated by two separate wide-angle cameras that display images of what's behind the vehicle whenever reverse is selected.

Second-row seating is reasonably roomy and versatile, allowing for either three passengers or two passengers with a center armrest/cupholder and overhead reading lamps. The second-row bench is split 40/20/40. The outboard seats are full-sized, with available heat/cool capability. The center seat is less accommodating.

Third-row access is from the passenger side, where the second-row seat moves forward to allow walk-in access to the third row. We found the process a bit tricky, and the rearmost seats are not long on legroom. For smaller passengers or short trips, the rear seats will be adequate; for adults, they will be cramped and uncomfortable.

The third-row seats can be commanded to fold flat at the push of a button, converting the GX to a five-passenger SUV with enlarged storage. Most of the time, the third-row seats will be empty, so the power fold-flat feature on the GX is likely to be highly useful, freeing the driver from the hassle of reconfiguring the seating to accommodate changing loads.

A nine-speaker sound system that includes a 6CD changer with MP3 capability, integrated XM radio and streaming audio via Bluetooth is standard. The optional Mark Levinson audio system is for audiophiles and uses 17 speakers, powered by 330 watts with less than 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion, and can play DVDs or CDs in addition to files from outside sources. A rear-seat entertainment system, with remote control, is bundled with the Mark Levinson audio system as an additional option. The Mark Levinson system has enough clean power to allow for listening at very high volumes with practically no distortion. We didn't have a back-seat passenger during our drive, but we did listen from the back seat later on, and sure enough, the sound is just as good in the back seat as the front. It's an option that, while on the pricy side, will truly be appreciated by those who love their music.

A well-insulated cabin helps the audio system sound its best. With the audio system shut off, the cabin is quiet and we found it easy to speak using a low tone of voice.

Lexus Enform is the latest in Lexus telematic systems, and it comes standard on the GX. Enform is a subscription-based live-operator assist system that enables real-time assistance without having to fuss with navigation programming. To test it, we pushed the button, an operator picked up and downloaded directions to our lunch destination. We felt guilty asking a live operator to direct us to a burger joint, but it is nice to know that someone is standing by 24/7. Enform is optional, bundled with Navigation. Another system, Safety Connect, is standard on the GX and provides automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assistance and enhanced roadside assistance.

2013 Lexus GX

Driving Impressions

The Lexus GX cruises quietly and efficiently on the highway, turning just 1500 rpm at 60 mph. At 2000 rpm, the speedometer was showing 79 mph, and the GX is still unstressed, riding along smoothly and quietly. The 6-speed transmission has a tall overdrive gear and the gears keep the engine right in the heart of the powerband.

The flexible 4.6-liter V8 allows for tall, efficient gearing without sacrificing responsiveness. With six close-set ratios available, the GX 460 displays an eager character when it comes to high-speed passing and full-power, on-ramp blasts. Lexus says the GX 460 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds and will do a quarter-mile in 16.6 seconds. We did not take the GX out to the track, but based on our driving, we would have no reason to quibble with those numbers.

On the highway, its ride is long-legged and effortless. In traffic, however, the GX feels more like the truck-based SUV designed for off-road use that it is. Small roadway repairs and heavily textured surfaces create a light jiggle that can be detected at around-town speeds. This we attribute to relatively low-profile 60-series tires on 18-inch wheels, and the thick anti-sway bars used to control the GX in corners. However, bigger impacts like potholes and speed bumps are readily swallowed up by the GX suspension, which is capable of absorbing the larger irregularities of unimproved roadways. Our route took us across a series of speed bumps, where we quickly noticed the faster we hit them, the better it felt.

The four-wheel disc brake system responds well to light pressure at the top of the pedal, which is how this family wagon would normally be driven. All-out stopping power is consistent with a vehicle designed tow up to 6500 pounds, when truly powerful brakes are a requirement. While there is some front-end dive upon very hard braking, more than the average sedan, given the nature of the vehicle, we'd consider front-to-rear suspension compression well controlled.

Cornering is quite good for a vehicle of this size, height and weight. Body roll is well controlled by the same stout anti-sway bars, allowing the GX to track through corners predictably without need for correction, and the stiff wheel and tire combination works to enhance stability. The GX 460 uses electric steering, which has had a reputation for relatively numb feedback characteristics, but this is not a sports car, and the packaging advantages include significant mileage gains. And, like some of the newer electric steering systems, this one seems more thoughtfully tuned, with a better range of power assist, leading to a nice turn-in feel and stable tracking through sweepers. The GX is not the kind of vehicle we'd be inspired to toss into corners, but the suspension travel is not so long as to create wobbles. We wouldn't call it nimble, but in ordinary use the GX is easy to drive and quite painless to operate.

The GX is always in four-wheel drive, a mode that was completely transparent to us as we drove. There is no sense of torque steer, and no scuffing or binding up during full-lock, low-speed maneuvering that might occur with part-time 4x4 systems. The use of a torque-sensing center differential allows the GX to continuously adjust power distribution from wheel to wheel as traction permits. Traction is further enhanced with the electronic traction system Lexus calls A-TRAC, so wheel slip is quickly controlled on surfaces like wet grass or slippery pavement. There was nothing extremely challenging about the weather or the dirt roads we addressed during our off-road driving, but the hills and service roads of the Vessels Ranch were enough to get the GX thoroughly dusty.

Finding a level spot, we actuated low range using a small lever just below the shifter, and saw that it nicked in and out of 4-Lo immediately. It's necessary to enter Neutral to access low range, but short of that, its additional 2.57:1 gear reduction is available practically on-the-fly. Because of the gearing, and the adoption of KDSS, the Lexus GX 460 is one of the very few mid-size SUVs with genuine off-road capability.

KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) is a remarkable electronically controlled system that unhinges one end of the anti-sway bars that would normally limit wheel travel. Limiting wheel travel is a good thing on pavement, but off-road, the opposite is desirable. KDSS offers a way to have the best of both worlds. It works automatically, without driver intervention, any time a wheel is lifted off the terrain while the vehicle is in low range. We've tested the system in the past on the Toyota Land Cruiser, and found it dramatically improves a vehicle's ability to avoid getting stuck while crossing highly irregular terrain.

2013 Lexus GX

Summary

The Lexus GX 460 offers excellent control over rugged terrain. It's a traditional SUV, built on the same truck-based architecture as the rugged Toyota 4Runner, with a suspension and drive system designed for the rough stuff. Inside it's luxurious. On the road it's quiet. While not as soft and smooth on bumpy roads as a car-based crossover SUV, such as the Lexus RX, the GX is no buckboard on the highway. The 4.6-liter V8 generates plenty of power and the GX is loaded with safety features.

John Stewart filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the Lexus GX near Del Mar, California.


Model Line Overview

Base Price (MSRP) $53,445
As Tested (MSRP) $66,715

Model lineup:Lexus GX 460 ($53,445); Premium ($58,240)
Engines:4.6-liter DOHC 32-valve V8
Transmissions:6-speed automatic with sequential shift capability
Safety equipment (Standard):10 air bags including dual front and side airbags; driver and front passenger knee airbags; second-row seat-mounted side airbags, and roll-sensing side curtain airbags covering all rows; Active front seat headrests; Vehicle Stability Control (VSC); Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS); Brake Assist; Active Traction Control (A-TRAC); four-sensor Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM) system; 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions; child seat anchors; child safety locks
Safety equipment (Optional):Pre-Collision System (PCS); Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Driver Attention Monitor and Lane Departure Alert (LDA); Adaptive Front Lighting System with Intelligent High Beams; Intuitive Parking Assist; Wide-View Front and Side Monitors; crawl control
Basic warranty:4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:Tahara, Japan

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP):Lexus GX 460 Premium ($58,240)
Standard equipment:leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, wood and leather trim, 10-way power heated front seats with memory, split 40/20/40 reclining heated second-row seats, split 50/50 folding third-row bench seat, AM/FM/6CD audio with nine speakers, rearview camera, power moonroof, power windows, power locks, cruise control, 12-volt power outlet, remote keyless entry, anti-theft alarm, intermittent rear wiper, 18-inch aluminum wheels; automatic HID projector-beam headlights, auto-tone control audio, cargo tonneau, Adaptive Front Lighting System, auto tilt-down mirrors, heated steering wheel, Adaptive Variable Suspension
Options as tested:Wideview Front and Side Monitor/Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Crawl Control, Driver Attention Monitor, Lane Departure Alert, and Intelligent High Beams ($3,170); Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package ($3,930); Intuitive Park Assist ($500)
Destination charge:($875)
Gas Guzzler Tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $66,715
Layout:four-wheel drive
Engine:4.6-liter V8
Horsepower (hp @ rpm):301 @ 5500
Torque(lb.-ft. @ rpm):329 @3500
Transmission:6-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:15/20 mpg
Wheelbase:109.8 in.
Length/width/height:189.2/74.2/73.8 in.
Track, f/r:62.4/62.4 in.
Turning circle:38.1 ft.
Seating capacity:7
Head/hip/leg room, f:38.0/56.5/41.7 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:40.2/55.2/34.1 in.
Head/hip/leg room, r:35.2/43.1/29.3 in.
Cargo volume:91.9 cu. ft.
PayloadN/A
Towing capacity:6500 Lbs.
Suspension F:double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension R:4-link rigid axle, control arms, adjustable air springs, stabilizer bar
Ground Clearance:8.1 in.
Curb weight:5340 Lbs.
Tires:265/60R18 M&S
Brakes, f/r:vented disc/disc w ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Fuel capacity:23.0 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of 01/Jun/2012.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-255-3987 - www.lexus.com