Kissing cousin to the 4Runner, the Lexus GX460 was the upscale version of Toyota's popular SUV. It had a body-on-frame design, but with more stuff and a higher price tag. It featured the same basic body style, wheelbase, seating capacity and driving experience.
In 2010, it received a redesign and power was provided by a 4.6-litre V-8 that delivered 301 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic only. This engine was used elsewhere in Lexus' lineup, and featured plenty of available power, while being almost completely silent in operation and reasonably thrifty, all things considered. On the scale of things, its fuel economy was no worse than most of the competition.
The GX460 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 could take it off-road with confidence. On some models you could also get an upgraded traction control system, an off-road cruise control set-up called "Crawl Control" and a multi-terrain select feature. This last feature allowed you to vary the vehicle's ABS system and traction control system to suit different driving conditions.
Unlike the 4Runner, which could be spartan, luxury abounded in the GX460. Standard kit included heated and ventilated front bucket seats, leather interior, push-button start, back-up camera, XM satellite radio, voice-command navi system and an "Eco" driving guide. This last feature lets the driver know when he/she is driving sensibly via a small green "Eco" light on the dash that lights up when you're light on the throttle pedal. One note here: the GX460's V-8 needed premium gas.
Other extras included 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 GX460 came in the form of a two-piece tailgate. Like most SUVs, the rear window was activated remotely, and opened upward to allow you to reach in and store groceries, but the bottom section swung outward to the right, as opposed to folding straight up and out. Total storage capacity was 1,832 litres, and the second-row seats featured their own heat controls, while the third-row seats folded 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 may lose control. Reprogramming the software in the system will sort this out.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has five technical service bulletins out there for the GX460. These include the now-infamous stuck accelerator pedal brouhaha, an upgrade alert for the electronic control unit (ECU), an unintended acceleration note and a couple of service procedure updates.
Some comments 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" and "While I was driving and almost home, the right front wheel of my vehicle exploded."
Consumer Reports loves this one. "The ride is quiet and comfortable and off-road capability is commendable," it says, and the model receives a "good bet" award from this organization. It gets top marks in every category, with the sole exception of the audio system. Overall, it garners the best used-car prediction rating C.R. offers and is on its "best of the best" list.
Market research firm J.D. Power is equally enthusiastic, but with some reservations. It bestows top marks for the GX460's body and interior quality, as well as its overall mechanical quality, but holds back when it comes to overall performance and design and overall dependability. It receives good marks in these areas, but not the best. Still, it is an award recipient for this organization's initial quality study for mid-size premium crossovers and SUVs for the 2010 model year.
Unsurprisingly, the GX460 has held up well in terms of resale and residual value. From a base price of less than $70,000 new, it's going for $40,000-$50,000 these days, depending upon equipment level. The Ultra version, which has all the bells and whistles, is valued at $5,000-$6,000 more than the Premium model.
2010 Lexus GX460
Original Base Price: $69,500; Black Book: $43,400-$48,950; Red Book: $41,500-$47,200
Engine: 4.6-litre V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 301 hp/329 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 14.1 city/9.8 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti FX50, Mercedes GL-Class