2023 Lexus GX460 Black Line
Tried and True
There's a reason why the Lexus GX has a cult following.
By Glenn Oyoung
Wed, Mar 8, 2023 01:56 PM PST
All images by Glenn Oyoung.
Let’s flip the review equation on its head and let me tell you about the cons of the Lexus GX right now. First, it sits on a platform that hasn’t seen a major overhaul since 2010. Secondly, that platform is a true body-on-frame chassis – so if you’re looking for car-like handling, forget it. Thirdly, its 4.6-liter V-8 is thirsty – to the tune of 15 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined.
Would it surprise you that the GX has developed a bit of cult following amongst the off-roading and overlanding enthusiasts? Indeed many of the tried-and-true design features of the GX that seem outdated make it the SUV of choice for folks who plan on taking the road less traveled.
Need proof? Let me do another first, by starting a new car review by showing you a very well-used version of the same car. Check out this buff GX overlander that parked next to me while I was at REI writing this very article. I believe they call this #kismit.
What makes the GX revered by off-road enthusiasts? The aforementioned body-on-frame construction separates it from more modern SUVs which look rugged, but generally sit on car platforms. Historically body-on-frame, or ladder frame construction, have been reserved for trucks and SUVs because it provides added strength. In other parts of the world the GX is sold as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
You can’t call something a Land Cruiser without backing it up. In the case of the GX née Prado, that means full-time 4WD, a high-low transfer case, Multi-Terrain Select with five modes, and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Lest you dismiss the GX as just a taller, wider, RX – consider that it shares the same chassis as the Toyota 4Runner and the future classic FJ Cruiser. It has off-roading in its DNA.
The overall shape of the GX hasn’t changed that much over the last decade, particularly from the side and rear angles. Whoever built the tooling should get an employee of the quarter century award at this point. That being said, the GX design has held up nicely to the tests of time – not unlike the MY2007-2021 Tundra (which I also owned, #letsgoplaces).
The element that still hasn’t grown on me is the Predator spindle grille. It makes more sense on sedans but I still prefer my SUVs and trucks to have blocky, Tonka-truck like grilles like the new Tundra, Sequoia, and the Land Cruiser (sold overseas only, for now.) We’ll see what the upcoming redesign of the GX brings.
The Nori Green Pearl with available Black Line upgrade ($4,750) - which as the name suggests, blacks out the wheels, trim, and roof rails - diminish the jarring visual effect of the spindle grille. After a week with the GX I vowed to strongly consider a dark green car in my future – it really stood out in a suburban sea of white, silver, and black SUVs.
My Instagram is @suburbanracer. The only off-roading you’ll see me do is the occasional curb hop at the local Stater Brothers. That being said, even on-roaders (if that’s not a word, I just made it one) can appreciate the GX. The average GX buyer – the first one, not the one who gets it used and loads it up with all the overlanding gear – most likely will never leave the asphalt. So, how does the GX work for the daily commute?
We (as in my family) leased one many moons ago and one of the things I loved about the GX is the revolutionary Kinetic Dynamic Suspension Systems (KDSS) which electronically frees and adjusts the front and rear stabilizer bars to control body roll. For an SUV that weighs almost 2.5 tons, the GX handles remarkably well and I give all credit to the KDSS. Is there roll? Absolutely! - but not what a vehicle of this size or weight with a high center of gravity should roll like.
The GX’s 7.8-second 0-60 time is not going to win any pink slips, but it’s plenty quick for your drop-offs and date nights. Once again, with the thirsty V8 you probably want to reign in that lead foot anyway.
Off-road cred notwithstanding, this is still a Lexus. The GX interior cradles you in plush seating, wood and leather, and entertains you with a 9-speaker premium sound system. Unlike the GX we leased many moons ago, this one came with a huge 10.3 display and Apple Carplay, something I’ve designed I literally must have with all future cars. Thank goodness Toyota finally jumped on the Carplay bandwagon.
The third-row seats can fold flat, creating a flat storage area in the back perfect for runs to Home Depot or Big Bear Mountain. Recognizing the rugged adventurers in the GX customer base, Lexus includes a 120V outlet in the cargo area – perfect for all of your camping needs.
What does the GX offer, when so much of its design is rooted in the past? The short answer: all-terrain pedigree and class-leading off-road features, all packaged in a luxurious cabin worthy of the Lexus badge.
Industry insiders have reported that the next-generation GX should arrive sometime in the first half of 2024, with a hybrid drivetrain. That aligns with where Toyota has taken the Sienna (only available as a hybrid) and Tundra/Sequoia (available as V6 or V6 hybrid) and would greatly enhance the GX’s competitive position in the SUV market.
About The Author
Glenn Oyoung is a marketer based in Los Angeles. Glenn’s lifelong passion for cars is rooted in playing with Hot Wheels, and has continued into 1:1 scale. He’s the former marketing director of American Racing, author of ‘vehicular alphabet books’ “C is for Car” and "P is for Petersen" in collaboration with the Petersen Automotive Museum. His passion for cars extends to his role as the founder of the monthly car meet Carcadia at Route 66, the most diverse car meet in the San Gabriel Valley.