|✓ Still a remarkably capable off-roader||☓ That V8 can be awfully thirsty|
|✓ Charming, old-school looks||☓ Sluggish acceleration|
|✓ Comfortable ride||☓ Updated infotainment system still isn’t good enough|
|✓ Base model offers solid value||☓ Top-end models are $75K…|
|✓ Pretty much bulletproof at this point|
Say hello to the Lexus GX 460 for another year — but the door on this old V8 SUV will soon close.
We’ve spent a fair bit of time (way too much, judging by some angry emails and comments) covering new plug-in hybrid and electric cars coming down the pipeline. This certainly isn’t that…and of course you know what this is: the 2023 Lexus GX 460. It’s been around in its second generation since 2009, and even if you’re not a car freak you can probably pick them out on the road without any trouble. The luxury brand’s midsize body-on-frame SUV has gotten a few updates along the way, including an interior refresh with a new infotainment system last year and the ‘Black Line’ model we’re testing here. Still, at its core this car still is what it’s been for the past two decades — a nicely appointed Toyota 4Runner with two extra cylinders and a slightly less archaic 6-speed transmission.
Frankly, there are plenty of more refined, modern, efficient and technologically advanced options in today’s SUV market. For me, though, the 2023 Lexus GX 460 Black Line is a refreshing change of pace and I suspect the 3,000 or so of you who buy one every month feel the same way. It seems dated against its contemporary rivals, but that old-school charm is hard to resist and gives this truck some serious off-road chops you won’t get in a three-row crossover.
Even better, you can get some models with an Off-Road Package that adds in crawl control and Multi-Terrain Select. Other premium packages add to the list of luxury features, including a Mark Levinson sound system or power-reclining third-row seats, or you can change up the styling with the Sport Design Package or the Black Line*.
A slight caveat on the Black Line:
Only 3,000 units of the GX 460 Premium-based Black Line are available this year, in one of three exterior colors: Eminent White (a new 2023 color), Obsidian, or the Nori Green Pearl we’re testing here. As equipped, this Black Line package adds $4,735 to the bottom line price, bringing the total MSRP to $62,460.
The Lexus GX 460 sports a handsome and rugged exterior
On the outside, that huge spindle grille and new LED headlights have been the latest update to the GX’s exterior design. Lexus doesn’t go too berserk with chrome brightwork anyway, but the Black Line package dials the chrome back to virtually zero. Instead, you get 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels, as well as darker trim on the grille, windows and roof rails. It contrasts the white well and blends in with the Obsidian color, but this Nori Green Pearl is my favorite way to go. It just gives this SUV a distinct, adventure-ready look that’s perfect for anyone who wants to take this SUV where it really shines: far beyond paved roads.
As before, the 2023 Lexus GX 460 retains some of its quirkier old-school features, for better or worse. You still get love-or-hate clear taillights, and the rear tailgate is unlike any other SUV you’ll come across these days. There’s no power option — instead you swing the door out, while a small button to the lower left of the rear glass pops the window open if you want to just throw something in the back. The rear swing-gate action looks cool and it has a beefy gas strut that will hold the door in place wherever you leave it, but it can present a problem if there’s another car parked closely behind you.
As you’d expect, though, the GX just looks classier than the 4Runner. The styling (and that Lexus badge, let’s be honest) go a long way toward making this car a terrific option to take care of the clients during the week, then head off into the great outdoors on the weekend.
The interior doesn’t have too many frills, but most features you’d want are there
Stepping inside the 2023 Lexus GX 460 Black Line, you’ll find a new center stack and a host of buttons spread all throughout the cabin. The 10.3-inch infotainment screen in a nice touch, as it supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All 2023 GX models come with SiriusXM satellite radio as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
The update cuts both ways, however, as you also get Lexus’ much-maligned trackpad to navigate the system. And that’s the old infotainment system, mind you — the updates Lexus gave the new NX and RX crossovers did not come over to this old-school SUV. At least the display is a touchscreen now, so you can get around some of the frustrations the trackpad brings.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only frustrating part of the GX 460’s interior. I do welcome actual physical buttons to control all the car’s gadgets and gizmos, but having to hunt down some of them is one of the most prominent signs of the GX’s age. Where’s the heated steering wheel button (it’s not on the wheel itself)? How about the headlamp washers? The center differential lock? The automatic high beam toggle?
Lexus hasn’t comprehensively redesigned the interior since the 2010 model year, so they’ve had to try and get creative on where to place new buttons as the company keeps adding features to keep the GX competitive. The Black Line and higher-end models do have a standard 360-degree camera system, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control, but you’ll have to get used to where everything’s situated compared to most other new cars, that more or less cluster driver assistance controls in the same area.
One important change to note for the 2022-and-forward GX 460 models is the rest of the center stack and console.
Moving the screen and HVAC vents around while including the trackpad meant moving all the controls that were on rocker switches in older models. The adaptive suspension, control over the rear air springs (on Luxury models), high/low range, downhill assent control, multi-terrain select and crawl control knobs and buttons are all situated around the abnormally large digital clock. At least Lexus did group all those items together when it refreshed the infotainment setup.
While the upper knobs look like they adjust the climate control at first glance, that far right knob actually controls the transfer case, shifting between full-time four-wheel drive and 4-low. Basic models use the left knob for downhill ascent control, while higher versions use it for MTS and crawl control (relegating DAC to a button). See what I mean about learning where everything’s at?
It’s technically a three-row SUV, but…good luck with that.
If you’re sitting up front, the 2023 Lexus GX 460 is certainly a nice place to be. You get fantastically comfortable seats with a lofty driving position and plenty of legroom. That story doesn’t really translate to the rest of the cabin, though, whether you’re on the second-row seats or the third-row. They’re both less than ideal, for different reasons.
Midship passengers in the GX at least get rear climate controls, but the seats are flat and fairly hard. I’m thinking the idea here is that you’ll wear them in over 30 years and 3 million miles of use since GX owners tend to drive them to the moon, but they aren’t the most comfortable when they’re brand new.
The stowable third row is a nice touch for a midsize SUV, and the GX is clever about how the seats fold away until you need them. They are awfully cramped, though, so the space is only usable for kids. They compromise cargo volume too, of course, leaving just 11.6 cubic feet of cargo space when folded upright. It’s a slightly rosier story when they’re down, as you’ll then get 46.7 cubic feet of space instead. So, you can have passengers or cargo in the GX…but not both. Those roof rails may come in handy after all.
You still get a V8, if not much performance to go with it
The 2023 Lexus GX 460 carries on with just one engine: the good-old 4.6-liter V8. It makes 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque and comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. As standard, you get full-time four-wheel drive and Lexus’ Kinematic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), while the higher Luxury trim does receive the Adaptive Variable Suspension setup. In every measure, the GX outpaces the 4Runner, from its transmission (the Toyota still packs a positively ancient 5-speed ‘box) to its 6,500-pound towing capacity.
Even though I’ve driven the GX 460 before, I forgot just how comfortable this car is on the road. Not only are the seats compliant, but Lexus dialed in the ride to make this car an excellent road trip rig. With 8.1 inches of ground clearance and sturdy underpinnings, especially if you select a model with the Off-Road Package, the 2023 Lexus GX 460 is even better when the going gets rough.
The penny eventually drops when you plant your foot on the accelerator, though, and the GX crawls from 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. Again, this is an old-school SUV so you can’t expect much when it comes to out-and-out performance, but we are talking about a V8 powertrain here. It sounds nice, but hammering it off the line won’t get you anywhere in a hurry, so you might as well not bother.
Planting your right foot won’t do your wallet any favors, either. EPA estimates peg the GX 460 at 15 City / 19 Highway / 16 Combined mpg, which is actually a slightly worse rating than it managed back in 2010 (when it still made 301 horsepower). In mixed driving, I managed a more encouraging 18 mpg, but the 2023 Lexus GX 460 certainly won’t win any awards for fuel mileage.
Verdict: Through it all, I still love this rig. And if you love it, you should buy one now
You can’t really talk about the 2023 Lexus GX 460 without mentioning its shortcomings, but here’s the thing: It doesn’t do any one thing badly. This is a remarkably versatile SUV, even before you factor in its tremendous off-road capability. At just over $62,000, too, this sort-of base model GX is actually pretty good value for the money, considering how expensive luxury SUVs can get in this class.
Like the Toyota Land Cruiser and LX 570, too, there’s something about the GX that just makes me like it. It has charm and I’ve been happy as I could be just cruising around in it for the week. I feel the same way about this model as I feel about the Toyota 4Runner: It’s just a good, solid truck. Period.
Perhaps “truck” isn’t even the best word for it, despite its body-on-frame construction.
I could see myself holding onto a GX for many years and treating it as my adventure companion, more than just a vehicle (again, not unlike the 4Runner). I think that sentiment is why folks do choose this over the techier competition and I absolutely understand why. It will cost you far more to run, but the general consensus at this point is that the GX is pretty much bulletproof because it’s been around so long.
Whether or not I think it’s time for Lexus to move on is irrelevant, as evolution will eventually come. This V8 gas guzzler can’t keep going forever, so we will see some sort of replacement in the coming years. So, here’s my advice: If this sort of old-school charm speaks to you, buy a GX now before it’s too late. I’d also spring for a base model, the Premium or this Black Line, as top-end Luxury models can easily touch the $75,000 mark.
Take good care of it and you could even have a collector’s item on your hands.
We have more on this Nori Green Pearl GX Black Line coming up soon, but for now check out one of our last videos on TFLoffroad: