2022 Lexus GX 460 Review: Good Bones, But LX Updates Have to Wait

 
 

Versus the competition: The GX 460 can keep up with other cushy-but-capable off-roaders when the pavement ends, but it lacks the interior sophistication of similarly priced rivals.

If the 2022 Lexus GX 460 were a house, real estate agents would say it has “good bones.” There’s a lot to like about the capable body-on-frame SUV — known outside the U.S. as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado — but, as with many houses with good bones, the GX 460 needs a gut rehab. Its larger sibling, the Lexus LX 600, underwent a comprehensive redesign for 2022 that updated its platform, powertrain, technology and more; if the GX is going to stick around, getting it the LX treatment should be a priority.

 

Our test vehicle was a 2022 GX 460 with a new Black Line optional appearance package that, as its name suggests, blackens the interior and exterior trim; its sticker price was $62,045 (including a $1,075 destination fee). The GX squares off against rivals like the Land Rover Defender and Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L.

Big Ol’ V-8 Engine Is Indeed Big and Old

Under the hood of the GX is an engine that feels like it’s always been under the hood: a 4.6-liter naturally aspirated V-8. Despite being a V-8, its power figures are relatively modest — 301 horsepower and 329 pounds-feet of torque — and it moves the GX’s 5,100-plus pounds with deliberation. The V-8’s responsiveness is welcome, and its six-speed automatic transmission shifts smartly. With Lexus and parent automaker Toyota moving increasingly to forced-induction engines, however, a big naturally aspirated V-8 like this one doesn’t feel long for this world.

Also not long for this world is how many miles the GX can travel on a single tank of (premium) gas: The GX has a less-than-stellar 15/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined EPA fuel-economy rating. Even with a 23-gallon fuel tank, that translates to a maximum range of less than 450 miles. Those numbers are, however, par for the course in this class, as both the V-8-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee L and Land Rover Defender 110 are rated similarly, at 17 and 16 mpg combined, respectively.

That said, both of those SUVs are more powerful than the GX. The GX’s V-8 may just be one of the least powerful V-8s still being sold today. The LX 600 got a turbocharged V-6 in its recent redesign, and it seems high time the GX go the forced-induction route, too.

The GX 460’s maximum towing capacity is 6,500 pounds, and it comes with built-in trailer sway control. With that towing capacity, a trailer brake controller is probably a good idea (really, if you’re towing and your trailer has its own brakes, it’s always a good idea), but the GX has no integrated controller. If you want one, you’ll have to go the aftermarket route.

Well-Cushioned Ride

The GX may not be especially powerful, but it makes up for that with stellar off-road potential. An optional Off-Road Package adds extra underbody protection, an improved camera system, a terrain management system and Crawl Control (essentially low-speed off-road cruise control).

Yet even without all of that, the GX still has a lot going for it, including excellent outward visibility, more than 8 inches of ground clearance, full-time four-wheel drive, a torque-sensing limited-slip differential, a two-speed transfer case and an electronically locking center differential. Despite not having the Off-Road Package, our test vehicle made short work of heavy snow during our drive, and the standard suspension was nicely cushioned; bumps and potholes never bothered it. Pricier GX models can have an adaptive suspension allowing drivers to choose among Normal, Sport and Comfort settings.

Old and New Interior (But Mostly Old)

 
 

The GX 460’s interior has a bit of a way-back machine feel to it. It’s loaded with physical controls that are easy and intuitive to use, as well as controls I haven’t seen in some time on a Lexus (or a Toyota). Remember rotary dial controls for heated and ventilated seats? What about a toggle switch to change the cabin temperature? If those throwbacks aren’t enough nostalgia, how about a CD player in a luxury vehicle from 2022? While these things may be old, though, they work and they’re intuitive, so I’m not going to complain about it.

What I am going to complain about is that Lexus’ Remote Touchpad controller is still around. It’s difficult to use, it’s distracting, and it needs to go. Fortunately, the 2022 GX 460 gets a 10.3-inch touchscreen display (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), meaning the only thing you need the touchpad for now is its menu button.

In the GX 460 Black Line, you get a very, very dark interior with matte-black ash wood trim. From certain angles, the matte finish of the wood looked more like upholstery to me, but it’s a nice touch. The interior is nice overall, but it feels more premium than luxury. Both Jeep and Land Rover have the GX beat in this department.

As for annoyances, materials quality dips somewhat the farther back you go in the GX, but what really takes a dive is interior room. With sliding and reclining seats, the second row is a fine place for adults to be; the seats are somewhat close to the floor, raising passengers’ knees a bit, but not so badly that a long trip would be out of the question. An adult sitting in the tiny third row, however, is out of the question — and that may be true for kids, too. Getting back there was difficult with the second-row bench seat in our test vehicle (captain’s chairs are available), and there’s hardly any space once you’re back there. I recommend keeping the seats folded down and pretending you have a two-row SUV.

Same goes for the cargo area. With the third row in place, there’s hardly any cargo space. Lexus cites 11.3 cubic feet of space, but we measured it at 3.2 cubic feet. Fold the third row down (manually, as in our test vehicle, or powered in pricier GXs), and there’s a useful amount of space behind the second row. Our measurement was 18.5 cubic feet, which is on the low side for something the GX’s size. Lexus reports 46.7 cubic feet. (Our measurements tend to skew lower than manufacturer specs.)

Accessing the cargo area from the rear, however, can be annoying thanks to the GX’s rear swing gate. Rather than a liftgate that’s hinged at the top, the GX’s rear door is hinged on the curb side and swings outward. It means a full-size spare tire can be mounted there, but it also makes it hard to access the cargo area when parked in close quarters. The rear windscreen does flip up independently, but accessing the back through that higher opening could be problematic, particularly with heavy loads.

The wood trim mentioned above is also found on the steering wheel, meaning the available heated steering wheel warms up only the leather-wrapped portions at 3 and 9 o’clock. Yes, that’s where your hands should be while driving, but some low-speed maneuvers — like, say, backing a cold car out of a parking space — require lots of movement around the wheel, and the wood gets cold. It’s a minor complaint, but a complaint nonetheless.

Safety

Lexus made its Lexus Safety System Plus suite of advanced safety technologies standard on every 2022 Lexus, meaning the GX 460 includes features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Front and rear parking sensors are also newly standard on the 2022 GX 460.

Go for a GX?

Assuming the next GX we see will be a redesign, the 2022 GX may be a great choice for buyers looking for a mostly sorted-out luxury SUV. The touchscreen display fixes lots of problems caused by the touchpad controller, there are still lots of physical controls, and given this is the 13th model year of this generation of the GX, Lexus should have worked out most of the manufacturing kinks by now.

Off-roaders looking for a solid starting vehicle should make a note to look for a used 2022 GX 460 in a few years’ time. The GX has robust aftermarket support, and a discounted 2022 GX 460 would make for a great overlander or rock crawler with a few modifications.

The 2022 GX 460 isn’t the most luxurious vehicle you can buy for $60,000-$70,000, but for that kind of money it is one of the best combinations of luxury and off-road capability out there.