On Wheels: Lexus GX 460 Luxury, big in more ways than one

After several hundred miles in the 2016 Subaru BRZ sports car — the most unlikely of Subaru products, bereft of space, comfort, utility, smoothness, all-wheel drive — I was ready for something better.

I found it in the 2016 Lexus GX 460 Luxury sport-utility vehicle.

Let’s just say that after my BRZ experience, my second in about eight months, I fully understand why so many people love sport- and crossover-utility and other truck-and-wagon-like vehicles. Those rides are top sellers nationally and internationally because of the luxury of space.

People want that space, and if they can get it with maximum power, safety, comfort, convenience and luxury, many of them will take it. They are going to spend big money — perhaps $68,765, the fully optioned price of this week’s GX 460 — and they aren’t going to worry much about it.

Nor are they going to be overly concerned about fuel economy. The full-size Lexus GX 460 with full-time four-wheel drive uses a 301-horsepower gasoline engine pumping 15 miles per gallon in the city and barely 20 mpg on the highway using premium fuel.

Economy is the last concern. Space, safety, comfort, power and utility rank first to last.

The Lexus marketing people push “prestige” as part of their GX 460 sales package. But few GX 460 drivers are thinking about prestige when the skies darken, the downpour comes and the winds get pushy on a lonely highway. Instead, their thoughts center on enough weight (5,130 pounds without passengers or baggage) to handle the rough wind en route to safer shelter — and enough power to get there.

And how is this for prestige? You stop driving too late to find, or make sense out, of a single night’s hotel accommodations. You park your “prestige” at a safe, well-maintained truck stop for a few hours, push back the seats and sleep until dawn in your GX 460. The truck-stop bathrooms are clean, and the grub is often better than the stuff served in fancy hotels.

Bring along your favorite music and videos. Stop and rest for lunch. The GX 460 driven for this column was equipped with a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround-sound audio system, perfect for turning rest stops into little musical retreats.

You can pacify the backbenchers, children and adults, with their individual headphones and media devices, the combination of which works wonderfully with ample cabin space to form demilitarized zones.

Ah, and the ride in the GX 460 Luxury is, well, luxurious. You don’t feel the many bumps and potholes of our deteriorating national infrastructure. Standard equipment on the GX 460 Luxury includes the Lexus-trademarked Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. Similar to systems on Cadillac and other high-end vehicles, it adjusts the suspension within fractions of a second to meet road conditions.

The GX 460 Luxury is equipped with every available piece of advanced electronic safety equipment — blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, backup camera with parking assistance, pre-collision system with driver-attention monitor.

You don’t drive this one as much to get to a vacation destination as you do to simply be on the way. Total fun on the road.

NUTS & BOLTS
Lexus GX 460

Bottom line: The 2016 Lexus GX 460 Luxury is one of the best long-distance roadrunners available.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets top marks in all three.

Head-turning quotient: Big, bold and hard to miss.

Body styles/layout: The GX 460 Luxury is a full-size, front-engine, full-time-four-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle. It is the top of a line that includes the base GX 460 and the GX 460 Premium.

Engine/transmission: Standard equipment on models with full-time four-wheel drive includes a 4.6-liter, ­
32-valve gasoline V-8 with variable valve timing (301-horsepower, 329 pound-feet of torque). The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.

Capacities: Seating is for up to seven people. Cargo capacity with seats raised is 11.6 cubic feet. With seats lowered, cargo room is 67.7 cubic feet. The GX 460 Luxury can be equipped to carry a payload weighing 1,470 pounds. It can tow a trailer weighing 6,500 pounds. The fuel tank holds 23 gallons (premium gasoline is required).

Fuel economy: I averaged 19 miles per gallon on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, pre- and post-collision safety systems, traction and stability control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, parking assistance, and 10 air bags.

Note: You are spending a lot of money on this one anyway. You might as well spend a bit more and buy every available advanced electronic safety item. Those things can save more than money.

Pricing: The 2016 GX 460 Luxury starts at $62,155, with a dealer invoice price of $57,183. Price as tested is $68,765, including $6,310 in options (premium sound system, entertainment screens, advanced safety options) and a $940 factory-to-dealer shipment charge. Estimated dealer’s price as tested is $65,000.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/cars/on-wheels-lexus-gx-460-luxury-big-in-more-ways-than-one/2016/04/07/447ea712-fa88-11e5-9140-e61d062438bb_story.html

Apr 8th, 2016