The Lexus GX 460 remains a rarity among luxury SUVs, a full-capability model with exceptional off-road prowess, yet with on-road handling and ride quality that epitomize the Lexus brand. The 2014 model gets the signature Lexus spindle grille for a more distinctive appearance, and the change is also functional thanks to the addition of LEDs (light emitting diodes) for the headlamps and daytime running lights (DRLs).
The GX 460’s wide-ranging outdoor capability gets a boost from some indoor changes for 2014, namely a new multimedia system that uses an innovative customizable home screen. Capable of displaying three sections at once, the screen can be configured as a single display (navigation/map), dual display (navigation/map + audio, compass or other function) or three displays on the same screen. Adding information and clarity, the available navigation system features three dimensional map views.
A new touch-screen display audio adds an eight-inch screen, backup monitor, Bluetooth® audio, automatic phone book transfer, and a vehicle information display.
One vehicle, Two Personalities in Harmony
The Lexus GX 460 is a premium luxury family commuter during the week that easily transforms to a trail-driving 4x4 on the weekend, with room for up to seven. Such a contrast of functions is made possible by a combination of rugged body-on-frame construction and an advanced standard Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which helps to significantly reduce body lean without needing stiffer springs and dampers. The GX 460’s 4.6-liter V8 provides 301-horsepower and 446Nm of peak torque.
The Real Deal in 4-Wheel Drive Capability
To drive the Lexus GX 460 and experience its on-road smoothness and quiet, one might be amazed at the other side of its dual personality, the side that loves trail driving. It’s a matter of the right hardware, dynamic chassis control and body configuration for obstacle clearance.
First on the GX 460’s roster of full-capability chassis systems is the standard full-time four-wheel drive that uses an electronically controlled transfer case and a TORSEN® torque-sensing limited slip center differential. The TORSEN differential distributes power 40:60 under most driving conditions and changes the ratio as needed based on wheel slip. The system offers a low range for off-road driving, and the center differential can be electronically locked.
The 4WD has some on-road performance tricks, as well. Tracking through curves, the system can change the torque split to 30:70 to enhance vehicle tracking. If the rear wheels spin, the center differential can change the ratio to 50:50 to help control the slippage. It’s also ready for sudden changes in road-surface conditions, such as driving through a puddle or over an ice patch.
The GX 460’s sophisticated full-time 4WD system includes a low range for secure offroad travel, and it is supported by a platoon of chassis control technology. With the Crawl Control, Downhill Assist Control (DAC), Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) at the ready, the GX 460 can keep going when the pavement ends and when faced with steep inclines.
Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) provides the traction benefits of having locking front and rear differentials, but with lower weight. The system can apply the brake to a slipping wheel, while transferring torque to the wheels with better traction. A steering angle indicator in the gauge panel shows the driver, at a glance, which direction the front wheels are pointing - useful for situations where this can be difficult to discern, such as driving off-road.
The GX 460 Luxury model deftly balances its on-road and off-road personas. On-road, the driver can tailor ride and handling balance by selecting from among Normal, Sport or Comfort modes for the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). The electronically controlled dampers will do the rest, adjusting to road surface conditions.
Driving off-road requires greater axle and wheel articulation than on-road driving, but it takes special engineering to achieve that capability without compromising on-road cornering. The GX 460 helps solve that dilemma with Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS). Lexus was able to make the stabilizer bars stiffer to reduce maximum body-lean angle by as much as 50 percent. KDSS, meanwhile, can continually vary the actual lean resistance using hydraulic cylinders acting on each stabilizer bar and linked by a pressure-sensing valve.
In off-road situations, KDSS reduces the sway resistance, which allows the wheels on each axle to move with a larger degree of side-to-side independence, helping to minimize any tendency for wheel lift. When the GX 460 encounters an uneven surface, one compressed cylinder causes fluid to flow to the other cylinder, helping the vehicle to keep all four wheels on the ground.
To get an example of how helpful KDSS can be, consider that drivers of some 4x4 vehicles will crawl under their vehicles to disconnect the stabilizer bars before traversing a difficult trail, all to achieve what KDSS does automatically.
During on-road cornering, when both front and rear hydraulic cylinders are in a neutral position, no fluid flows in the system and the stabilizer bars work conventionally to help reduce body lean.
Learning to Crawl
Driving off-road, especially on steep declines, requires some skill to manipulate the throttle, brake and steering and keep the vehicle moving forward securely. The GX 460 offers Crawl Control, which automatically modulates the throttle and brake, allowing the driver to concentrate on steering. Crawl Control, which is also useful to help navigate the vehicle through sand, mud or snow, engages when the driver shifts into low range. The system allows the vehicle to move forward or in reverse at one of five driverselectable low-speed settings. Crawl Control also engages the front and rear “virtual” locking differentials to help reduce tire slippage and optimize chassis behavior.
What’s New for 2014
- New front-end design with spindle grille, LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights.
- New rear fascia includes clear taillamps.
- Standard display audio with 8” touchscreen and backup camera.
- New multimedia system.
- Trailer sway control.
- Headlamp washers.
- Robust body-on-frame construction
- Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) features three modes: Normal, Sport and Comfort.
- Adjustable Height Control (AHC) helps enhance the vehicle’s flexibility in a wide range of driving situations.
- Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) provides additional control for off-road driving by helping to keep the vehicle from rolling back while starting on a steep incline.
- Downhill Assist Control (DAC) is designed to augment the low-speed descending ability of the transmission's low range by helping to hold the vehicle to a target speed with no intervention from the driver.
- Crawl Control automatically adjusts acceleration and braking for all four wheels to reduce tire slippage and optimize chassis performance in off-road situations.
- 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/60R18 mud and snow tires.
- The Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) includes standard 10 airbags: driver and front passenger airbags; front seat-mounted side airbags; driver and front passenger knee airbags; second-row seat-mounted side airbags, and roll-sensing side curtain airbags covering all three rows.
- Active front headrests move up and forward almost instantly in the event of certain types of rear-end collisions.
- Standard features include: 10-way power-adjustable, front seats; automatic three zone climate control; steering wheel audio controls; power moonroof; memory system for the driver's seat, steering wheel and outside mirror positions.
- Heated/ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, and rear (third-zone) automatic climate control for enhanced third-row passenger comfort.
- The versatile passenger-side second row seat slides 4.1 inches fore/aft to maximize passenger and cargo carrying ability.
- The foldable and reclining second row seats also feature a 60/40 walk-in function to access the standard power fold-flat third row seats.
- The tailgate window has a flip-up glass panel for added convenience. • Standard Lexus Premium nine-speaker audio system with iPod®/USB connectivity, Bluetooth hands free phone capability and music streaming.
- Standard rear back-up camera displays images on the standard 8-inch navigation system’s LCD display.
- Wide-view Front and Side Camera which is designed to enhance visibility in tight settings, such as parking garages, and to help the driver’s view around corners when pulling out of parking spaces into traffic, and stopped at intersections and T junctions.