by Adam Lynton
All-road versatility and premium luxury are what the 2019 Lexus GX has been designed for. With a body-on-frame chassis and the underpinnings required for serious off-roading, the GX can also accommodate the entire family in a comfortable cabin, equipped with everything needed for an all-terrain excursion. As an ambitious merger between off-roader and plush family carrier, the GX has had to make some significant compromises, mostly to ride comfort and fuel economy, leaving the question of whether it will stand as a worthy competitor to rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery, Acura MDX and its cousin, the Lexus LX. The GX may boast some notable off-road capabilities, but its rough ride and subpar luxuries result in somewhat of an identity crisis: it doesn't fare exceptionally well as a luxury utility vehicle, with a more single-minded purpose than rivals, who seem to offer a better balance. Its stout 4.6-liter V8 engine allows for this all-wheel-drive midsize crossover SUV to produce 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque via a six-speed automatic transmission.
For 2019 the Lexus GX receives blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert as a no-charge option, as well as a software upgrade, and a few tweaks to the available optional packages. The Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect are now complimentary for the first ten years of ownership, and the Lexus Enform Remote can now be configured to your smartwatch and features Amazon Alexa skill integration. Interior color options Black and Sepia in the Premium Packages have been changed to NuLuxe interior trim.
The quintessential ute is big and imposing and includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, integrated front, and rear mudguards, LED headlights, clear tail-lamp lenses, color-keyed and illuminated running boards, roof rails, and a rear spoiler with an integrated wiper as standard. The tailgate is hinged on the right and has a flip-up rear window; additionally, a power tilt-and-slide moonroof with one-touch open and close functionality is installed. On Premium trims, the SUV receives 18-inch split-six-spoke alloy wheels, while the GX Luxury model offers wheels finished in liquid graphite coating. It also has power-folding electrochromic auto-dimming mirrors on the Luxury variant.
The Lexus GX is a moderately sized SUV spanning a total length of 192.1 inches, with a width of 74.2 inches. As an off-road vehicle, it is expected to offer good ground clearance; at 8.1 inches off the ground, the GX rides higher than the Acura MDX, although doesn't quite match the 8.9 inches of the Land Rover Discovery. Height ranges from 73.8 inches in the Luxury trim, to 74.2 inches on the base model. Built with a shorter wheelbase than most rivals, the 109.8 inches between wheels is partly responsible for the sub-par ride comfort. Curb weights range from 5,130 pounds to 5,199 lbs on top-end trims, which is significantly more than both chief competitors. The GX's excellent off-road capabilities are by virtue of a 21-degree approach angle, a 23-degree departure angle and a break-over angle of 21 degrees.
The same color palette from 2018 is available for the 2019 GX range with no additional cost for any of the options. These include Starfire Pearl, Silver Lining Metallic, Nebula Gray Pearl, Nightfall Mica, Fire Agate Pearl, Black Onyx, and Claret Mica. We love the Fire Agate Pearl option for its distinguished and eye-catching look, complementing both its rugged and classy aesthetic. It's worth noting that some of the color options, such as this one, are paired with specific interior color schemes.
The Lexus GX is available in only one powertrain setup: a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 301 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque, sent through a six-speed automatic transmission to the full-time all-wheel-drivetrain. Though the engine isn't enormously powerful, it is still energetic enough to cover 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is average for this vehicle segment and marginally poorer compared to the Land Rover Discovery.
By virtue of the GX's high-torque V8 engine, full-time four-wheel drivetrain, and solid body-on-frame construction, this capable SUV can manage a robust towing capacity of 6,500 pounds. Its Trailer Sway Control System helps detect and prevent excessive trailer movement by applying corrective measures to maintain stability. The braking system applies pressure to each wheel independently to help reduce sway, and the throttle is moderated to reduce vehicle speed. With the front-wheel-drive build of the 2019 Acura MDX, it can tow around 3,500 lbs which can be bumped up to 5,000 lbs with the SH-AWD system upgrade. The 2019 Lexus LX 570 holds a sufficient 7,000 lbs tow rating while the Land Rover Discovery has a class-leading max tow rating capacity of 8,201 lbs.
The 4.6-liter V8 engine may only produce 301 hp, but it's the low engine speed and high 329 lb-ft of torque that makes it a willing and capable utility vehicle, able to meet off-road demands. Acceleration is, however, hampered not only by the hefty weight of the GX's large body but also by a transmission that has been calibrated to try and mitigate rather dismal gas mileage figures. This results in a significant amount of lag and listless throttle responses. Though the GX's transmission shifts are very smooth, they're slow, not corresponding accurately to gas pedal inputs. The throttle requires more accelerator force than it should to pick up speed, and even more to trigger a downshift.
Off-road, and at low speeds, is where the GX fits in; in urban driving scenarios and at higher speed zones, it is cumbersome and heavy-handed, and a lot slower than many rivals too.
The Lexus GX has been utilizing the same powertrain setup since 2010. Prior to that, the GX was mounted with a 4.7-liter engine that produced 40 less horsepower, and although the current powertrain has better output, it is starting to show its age, which is likely why many present-day rivals have surpassed the GX with more refined engine systems. A case in point, the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine of the Land Rover Discovery, which delivers sufficient power to a responsive transmission across a range of drive modes, which optimizes the drive for various road conditions.
The GX is generally composed and offers a soft ride, without feeling overly floaty. However, due to certain elements of the suspension being too taut by default - alluding to the GX's off-road capabilities - mild asphalt abrasions and bumps can be somewhat jostling. Having a shorter wheelbase than most in this class, the GX can feel rigid over larger ground undulations and during off-road treks. Fortunately, it has good ground clearance to make adventuring a little easier. The GX has a surprisingly small turning circle with an appropriate amount of power assist, allowing the GX to manage tight U-turns with ease. Though stable, the steering does tend to feel unresponsive and lacks communication from the road - this can be problematic at higher speeds, for such a large vehicle. During everyday use, the brakes feel consistently reliable and adequately responsive, though the pedal travel is a tad lengthy.
The GX's adaptive variable suspension system activates the AVS monitor. This subsequently adjusts the electronically controlled shock-absorber settings of each wheel, depending on the road surface, vehicle speed, and driving style. Traction is optimized in all conditions thanks to the torque-sensing limited-slip center differential with electronic differential lock. Cornering on mountain roads is met with confidence and a sense of stability, with minimal body roll and sway. Off-road, the system automatically switches off to provide excellent articulation, resulting in a surprisingly agile SUV. Overall, the GX tackles off-road terrain better than it does urban streets, where it feels stiffer and out of its element in terms of handling. As an all-terrain luxury vehicle, the GX leans more toward the former, allowing rivals to stand out in terms of luxury and comfort in general.
The GX delivers some of the lowest EPA estimates in the class, managing ratings of only 15/18/16 mpg city/highway/combined. The modest six-speed automatic transmission tries hard to act efficiently but struggles against the force of the gas-guzzling 4.6-liter V8 engine. The GX's 24-gallon gas tank takes only premium unleaded fuel, further upping your gas budget, and with the tank filled can manage a maximum range of around 368 miles before needing to top up. The Land Rover Discovery is slightly more economical, with estimates of 16/21/18 mpg which pale in comparison to the Acura MDX's humble powertrain that produces more acceptable gas mileage of 20/27/23 mpg on some trim levels. At the very least, the GX doesn't stoop to the dismal standards of the Lexus LX, which barely manages 13/18/15 mpg estimates.
On the inside, the GX looks and feels upscale and high-end throughout; build-quality is exceptional, and the interior is a good combination of rich materials and soft-touch fabrics that speak of excellence and durability. The cabin is spacious overall, and occupants are spoiled with generous roominess, though the middle and rear seats do become incrementally restrictive. Seats in the GX are supportive, albeit on the firmer side, with uncomfortable plank-like seatbacks and bottoms that feel unyielding on long stretches. The GX features ten-way power-adjustable front seats with memory system, reclining and sliding middle-row seats with 40/20/40-split seatback, and fold-flat third-row chairs. The GX Premium and Luxury trims receive power-reclining and folding third-row seats. Additionally, front seats are heated and ventilated, as well as having heating functionality in the second-row outboard seats. For the driver, the controls are set up ergonomically and are straightforward to operate, with optimal driving position and good forward visibility.
The driving position in the GX is set high, which adds to the excellent front-facing visibility. There is ample seating and steering wheel adjustments to make even six-foot drivers feel at home. The GX seats a maximum of seven occupants, although the middle row seats can feel confining with three occupants. Equipping the optional captain's chairs improves space and comfort, but brings passenger capacity down to six. In the front of the cabin, there is ample head and legroom, and while headroom in the middle-row is generous too, legroom is only adequate as long as the front cabin occupants haven't pushed their seats back all the way. With three occupants in the middle-row, getting in and out of the rear can be challenging, but is not unusual for this segment. Similarly, the third-row is tight space-wise and is more fitting for children and shorter trips. Ingress and egress for the front and rear cabin are made easier thanks to the integrated side steps and grab handles at each door.
The base GX features either Black or Sepia NuLuxe interior, with Linear Espresso Wood and Abyss Black trim and finish. The GX Premium can be optioned in Black, Sepia and Ecru NuLuxe or leather, paired with Mahogany Wood trim and finishes, while the Luxury models are fitted with semi-aniline leather in either Black or Sepia with the same trim. The GX Luxury also receives a wood and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel and shift knob.
The substantial dimensions of the GX allow for a decent-sized cargo hold. Trunk capacity is limited at only 11.6 cubic feet of space with all seats installed. With the third-row seats down, space increases to 46.7 cu-ft, benefitting from the fact that the seats fold completely flat, fitting into the floor and allowing for convenient and versatile loading options. Folding down the 40/20/40-split second row of seats further expands available space to 64.7 cu-ft, which is sufficient to stow all your camping necessities and luggage for even a lengthy vacation. One negative is the fact that the trunk door is hinged on the right side of the vehicle, which impractically blocks curbside access when opened.
In-cabin storage is adequate, with deep and wide door-side pockets in the front which are large enough to fit water bottles. Two cupholders and a small storage cell in the center console, as well as a moderately sized glovebox, are also available. Second-row passengers have access to well-sized door pockets too and can make use of seatback pockets from behind the front row. For the third row, two cupholders are present for both seats.
All trims are equipped with a power moonroof and are fitted with privacy glass. Additionally, SmartAccess technology with push-button start/stop, a backup camera and trailer sway control are featured as standard. The GX Premium receives intuitive parking assist while the GX Luxury is given a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert system. The base GX has dual-zone climate control with an interior air filter, which is upgraded to a three-zone automatic system with a smog sensor and auto-recirculation mode on the Premium and Luxury trims.
The base model has ten-way power-adjustable front seats with Lexus Memory System, middle-row seats that can recline and slide with 40/20/40-split seatbacks, and fold-flat third-row seats for improved versatility. The GX Premium offers slightly more comfort by adding heated and ventilated front seats, as well as heated second-row outboard seats. Towards the top-end of the range, the Luxury model is equipped with power-reclining and folding third-row chairs, and a wood- and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel.
The Lexus GX's multimedia infotainment system is comprised of an eight-inch color touchscreen display linked to a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, and satellite/HD radio. Although the standard sound system is satisfactory, the display screen is low-resolution and seems quite dated. Voice command and Bluetooth capabilities are available, although it requires structured commands to recognize speech accurately. Together with the Lexus Enform Remote app, Amazon Alexa compatibility and Siri Eyes Free, the media hub in the center console allows for two USB ports and an auxiliary device to plug-in for charging and Smartphone connectivity. Despite easy-to-use Smartphone integration, the system does not provide for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality.
The 2019 Lexus GX 460 has not been given a predicted reliability rating by J.D. Power. There have been no complaints about the 2019 variant online, with only one issue logged for the 2018 variant; there are not many public concerns noted for this vehicle over the past few years in general. There have also been no recalls made for the 2019 Lexus GX 460.
This SUV receives a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and one-year/12,000-mile wheel alignment and balancing coverage. The powertrain warranty and rust-through coverage are valid for up to six-years/70,000-miles. The manufacturer also offers a four-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance plan.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested or evaluated any year model of the Lexus GX 460. It is quite typical for luxury vehicles not to undergo these assessments, and with the array of onboard features, the safety of GX passengers remain a priority.
Even though crash test-scores are not available for this vehicle, the GX is equipped with a comprehensive range of safety, and advanced driver-assist elements. There are ten standard airbags throughout the cabin, and every GX trim features a rearview backup camera, a trailer-sway control system, and hill-start and downhill assist control. For the first ten years of ownership, the GX comes with the Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect packages. The GX Premium receives intuitive parking assist additionally, and the Luxury model is fitted with a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Lexus GX is an average vehicle for the midsize crossover SUV class. Although it offers a decent combination of luxury-comfort and ruggedness, it isn't nearly the best vehicle available on the market. The GX feels well-built overall and offers all the off-road capabilities you'd want from an SUV; additionally, it has a better tow capacity than many rivals do, but it has a rough and unrefined ride quality that makes it uncomfortable for everyday use. Added to this is the worrying fuel consumption rates. Main rivals in the segment offer better, more modern and much more opulent interiors, together with superior technologies and better fuel economy. On the plus side, there are many safety and advanced driver-assist features standard on the GX range, even from the base trim, sadly this does not distinguish the GX as excellent or noteworthy in the segment. What the GX does offer, however, is an affordable entry point into the family-sized SUV segment, which young families could find attractive.
The base Lexus GX 460 is the most affordable option with an MSRP of $52,505. Pricing increases only slightly to $55,075 for the GX Premium trim which includes a handful of comfort and convenience features, as well as an extra driver-assist function. The GX Luxury costs $63,905, which seems to be a substantial increase, but the Luxury trim not only adds comfort and convenience features, it also receives enhancements to the underpinnings of the vehicle. It also allows for access to further add-ons that the two lower trims don't qualify for.
The 2019 Lexus GX range consists of three trim options; GX 460, GX 460 Premium, and GX 460 Luxury. All trims are fitted with a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 301 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque, sent to the all-wheel-drivetrain through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Base level features fitted as standard on the GX range include 18-inch aluminum wheels, LED headlights, running boards, a flip-up rear window in the swing-out tailgate, roof rails, a power moonroof, rearview backup camera, keyless ignition and entry, and Lexus' Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. The interior of the GX 460 is characterized by NuLuxe upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering column, 40/20/40-split second-row seating, and a 50/50 split-folding third row. The infotainment system includes an eight-inch touchscreen, a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, and satellite/HD radio.
The GX 460 Premium receives all the base level features plus LED fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, windshield wiper de-icer, and the option of NuLuxe or leather interior trim. The front seats on this model are heated and ventilated, and heated second-row outboard seats with three-zone automatic climate control are standard. This also includes an interior air filter, smog sensor, and automatic recirculation mode, as well as Intuitive Parking Assist.
At the top-end of the range, the GX 460 Luxury includes all the features from the Premium trim, as well as power-folding electrochromic, auto-dimming outside mirrors, headlamp washers, an adaptive variable suspension, and auto-leveling rear air suspension. In the fully-loaded cabin, semi-aniline leather interior trim, wood- and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel, power-reclining and -folding third-row seats, as well as a cargo-area tonneau cover, can be found. Lastly, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is standard for this variant.
The base GX 460 has access to only the $1,555 Navigation Package, which consists of a high-resolution color LCD display and a navigation system with Lexus Enform App Suite and Enform Destination Assist (complimentary for one year). The GX Premium can be equipped with the Sport Design Package, which costs $5,130 ($1,950 on the GX Luxury trim) and equips the SUV with 18-inch split-six-spoke alloy wheels in Gunmetal Metallic finish, Sport Design front fascia, lower grille surround, rear valance, mirrors with chrome detail, a chrome exhaust tip, and scarlet taillamps.
There are various Premium Packages available, the more comprehensive of which costs $3,070 and includes features such as LED fog lights, automatic wipers, a windshield de-icer, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system, and parking sensors. Enhancements to the look and feel of the vehicle with this bundle include a unique front grille, heated second-row seats, leather upholstery, and three-zone climate control. A second-row of captain's chairs can also be included.
For the GX Luxury, an available Mark Levinson Premium Surround-Sound Audio Package can be added at a cost of $1,145, which upgrades the sound system to a 17-speaker, 330-watt premium surround-sound audio system with 7.1-channel architecture. It automatically fits the contents of the Navigation Package as well.
A Driver Support Package is also available for the GX Luxury, priced at $2,340 and consists of the Navigation and Mark Levinson Premium Surround-Sound Audio packages, plus a driver attention monitor, pre-collision system with high-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, intelligent high beams, wide-view front and side monitor system and crawl control.
Being that affordability is one of the highlights of the GX selection, opting for the base level trim is recommended. It is decently equipped for safety and convenience, and available with a reasonable selection of options as a value-for-money, entry-level SUV. However, buyers looking for more safety and advanced driver-assist features, further mechanical enhancements for better off-road capability, or more exclusive in-cabin items, will have to shell out the additional costs for the fully-loaded Luxury trim.
The Discovery is a legendary name in this segment; offering a prominent and efficient powertrain, as well as a good balance between luxury and off-road capability, the Discovery starts off the comparison at an advantage. The GX 460 may also offer exceptional off-roading prowess, but it has been set back by dated technology and less contemporary styling. Additionally, it presents a subpar ride quality, while the Discovery makes far fewer compromises in striving to balance its off-road and family-hauler label. In comparison with the GX 460, the Discovery offers a higher quality, more modern infotainment setup comprising of a ten-inch touchscreen, navigation system and a ten-speaker sound system, along with superior comfort features such as a hands-free tailgate and leather upholstery as standard. It is also equipped with more safety and driver-assist features overall and delivers a better ride. We'd choose the Discovery over the Lexus without hesitation.
The Acura MDX is slightly more affordable than the Lexus GX and delivers superior fuel economy estimates due to its less powerful engine and lighter body. What makes the MDX impressive and establishes it as a worthy competitor is the level of standard vehicle features and far superior infotainment setup. It is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and runs off a dual-screen display and seven-inch touchscreen. The MDX's standard AcuraWatch safety suite features forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane and road departure warning and mitigation, and adaptive cruise control which is on par with what the Lexus has on board as well. The difference in price is a crucial factor in promoting the MDX, although the Lexus GX has the benefit of its reputation and status. In terms of value-for-money, the Acura is the better option.