Kissing cousin to the Toyota 4Runner, the Lexus GX 460 is the upscale version of Toyota’s popular SUV. It, too, has a body-on-frame design but with more stuff and a higher price tag. It features the same basic body style, wheelbase, seating capacity and driving experience.
Revamped in 2010, the 2011 edition is powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine that delivers 301 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission only. This engine was used elsewhere in Lexus’s lineup and features plenty of power, is almost completely silent in operation and, on the scale of things, no worse on gas than most of the competition.
The 2011 GX 460 also came with all-wheel drive, a Torsen centre differential, hill-start assist, and skid plates for the fuel tank and transfer case. So you can take it off-road with some degree of confidence.
On some models, you will also find an upgraded traction control system, an off-road cruise control set-up called Crawl Control, and a multi-terrain select feature, among other things. This last feature allows you to vary the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system and traction control system to suit different driving conditions.
Unlike the 4Runner, which can be kind of spartan, luxury abounds in the GX 460. Standard kit includes heated and ventilated front bucket seats, leather interior, push-button start, backup camera, satellite radio, voice-command navigation system, and an Eco driving guide. This last feature lets the driver know when they’re driving sensibly via a small green signal on the dash that lights up when you’re easy on the throttle pedal. But the GX 460’s V8 requires premium gas.
Other extras include a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system with headphones and remote, better quality leather interior, adjustable suspension, heated steering wheel and a lane-departure alert.
One interesting feature of the made-in-Japan GX 460 comes in the form of a two-piece tailgate. Like most SUVs, the rear window is activated remotely and opens upwards to allow you to reach in and store groceries and so on. But the bottom section swings outward to the right instead of folding straight out. Total storage capacity is 1,832 litres, and the second-row seats feature their own heat controls, while the third-row seats fold completely flat.
There is one safety recall to report from Transport Canada, and it concerns the vehicle stability control system. Under certain driving conditions, such as going through a corner too quickly, the back end could break away and the driver will lose control. Reprogramming the software will sort this out, apparently.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has five technical service bulletins for the 2011 GX 460. These include the now-infamous accelerator pedal brouhaha, an upgrade alert for the electronic control unit (ECU), an unintended acceleration note, plus a couple of service procedure updates.
Some complaints from owners:
- “every time I apply the brakes, I hear a squeaking noise”;
- “the brakes seem extremely mushy”;
- “the vehicle has front-end vibrations at 60-65 mph”;
- “while I was driving and almost home, the right front wheel of my vehicle exploded.”
Consumer Reports loved this one. “The ride is quiet and comfortable and off-road capability is commendable,” they said, and it received a “good bet” award from the organization. It got top marks in every category, with the sole exception of the audio system. Overall, it garnered the best used car prediction grade CR offers and was on their “best of the best” list.
Unsurprisingly, the GX 460 has held up well in terms of resale and residual value. From a base price of just over $60,000 new, it seems to be going from the mid-$20,000s to the mid-$30,000s, depending on equipment level. The Ultra version, which has all the bells and whistles, is valued at about $5,000 more than the Premium model.
2011 Lexus GX 460
Original base price: $60,700
Engine: 4.6-litre V8
Torque: 329 foot pounds
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 14.1 city and 9.8 highway, with premium gas
Alternatives: Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti FX50, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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