For road testers as well as shoppers, there is a huge benefit in driving two considered vehicles back-to-back, with insights and detail differences coming to the surface that might not have been noticeable before. The closer the competition in terms of quality and specifications -- the more critical it is to get a sense of each machine from the driver's seat.
Probably common sense, but a good reminder to myself nonetheless on my favorite aspect of any car magazine. So what did I notice coming right from the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe into the Lexus GX460? Find out in the quick video below...!
FIRST DRIVE VIDEO
The exterior of the 2014 GX460 is the most revamped aspect, with new detailing from all sides and the well-regarded new Lexus nose up front.
Overall, this is still a large and imposing truck. It is hard to give the surfaces the grace and flow of more car-like crossovers due to the bluff nose angle and short overhangs -- all hallmarks of the best off-roaders. This chopped-overhang design provides more approach and departure clearance when hitting huge hills and steep slopes.
The GX460 is at first a quite showy thing up front, but the styling really mellows and warms up with a few viewings from different angles. Most notable is the large inverted double trapezoidal grille, which brings tasteful brightwork accents with dark horizontal slats up top. It is not exactly gorgeous, but it does make the big GX feel much more comfortable in the full-range photos, where the new grille shape matches the rest of the family.
The arrow-head LED slash in the lower lights is the most successful aspect of the GX460's restyle for 2014, providing a solid white bar of angled light as the DRLs and lower LED accent at nighttime.
The overall lamp units are fully redesigned for 2014 as well, with twin mini projector beams as the low-beams and a single spotlight halogen highbeam closest to the grille. It is tasteful and well-resolved -- with the inner pinch of the arrow-head LED shape pointing right into the bulb of this highbeam. Overall, very appealing versus the previous headlamp and grille design.
The side profile of the GX460 is relatively unchanged aside from new lower surfaces to visually modernize this blocky SUV shape. The rear-most side glass behind the passenger doors now angles upward toward the back with a chrome edge around the lower window that was not present before - also helping to modernize and refine the familiar shape.
The most untouched part of the 2014 GX460 comes from its view directly from behind, where the red LED taillamps have been replaced with a clear chrome light design. The lower bumpers are also refined, with new reflector designs in the bumper that appear crisper and more modern.
EXTERIOR COLOR CHOICES
The cabin of the GX460 is sure to be the all-star attraction for most buyers. It is simply devine and extremely comfortable from the word go. Ingress is relatively easy: despite the high ride height, the doors are enormously tall and allow a smoother entry/exit procedure than the 2015 Tahoe. Both have pretty high floors versus the latest generations of soft-roaders and crossovers, but the Lexus is easier to get in and out of than the Chevrolet.
The running boards are helpful for shorter folks, but are not obtrusive and arent really a mandatory thing to hop in comfortably.
Once seated, the leather and seat comfort instantly felt far above the 2015 Tahoe LTZ - also equipped with leather and a full $68,000 price list that included a blu-ray player in back and a variety of other comforts. The Lexus does lag behind the Tahoe on some levels of tech integration -- with many controls of the GX460 inside the touch-screen menu versus also providing knobs and such. THe climate control, as noted above, seems like it would be more helpful with its own interface for more than temperature.
The touchscreen of the GX is easy to reach and operate, but did not show terrific contrast and washed out easily in sunny Lake Lanier, Georgia -- making it hard to read anything ont he screen while wearing even polarized sunglasses.
But besides those detail issues? The Lexus drives like absolute heaven.
It is smooth and silent in ways that even the loaded 2015 GM SUVs can still not achieve. Gas-pressurized shocks all around on the GX460 help keep things calm and refined, as does the active roll-bar system that keeps the big GX level in corners but cushy when on the highway.
The Lexus GX460 does lose some points to the newest SUVs in the backseat tally. While the front doors are oversized and reach down almost to the pavement, the rear doors open a much shallower entry area.
Once inside, the legroom of the second row is tighter than the X5 and the other competitors outlined below. In addition, access to the large and wide third row of seats is not nearly as easy as crossovers or even the 2015 Tahoe.
CARGO AREA AND SEAT FOLDING
The Lexus GX460 makes use of a side-hinged cargo door - which speaks to this vehicle's true origin as a seriously posh but also seriously authentic offroader in many global markets -- where an extra tire is sometimes mounted on that door. It is easy to swing out with a lightweight action, and the top glass part opens individually to plop in grocery bags. Handy, but not exactly typical for most SUVs these days.
Folding the seats down is also pretty simple, but reguires more learning and more heave-hoeing to accomplish than the Tahoe's trick power-folding third and power-tumbling second rows.
Once folded, the cargo area is suitably gigantic but the high floor is pretty noticeable versus some of the latest car-based seven-seaters like the Nissan Pathfinder.
One excellent powertrain helps deliver smooth and powerful moves for this large SUV: the 4.6-liter V8 delivering 301-horsepower and 328 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel-drive. That is alot of hyphens in one sentence -- but they are all required!
Similarly, the Lexus's 4x4 system and standard V8 might seem a bit old-fashioned versus the newest turbocharged and turbodiesel six-cylinders of the Audi Q7, GL-Class and the X5 -- but there is a real beauty in the Lexus setup. Smooth power that is always-on and always-quiet. These are excellent traits, and carry forward for 2014.
Acceleration is 7.8-seconds to 60 mph for the GX460, which feels conservative and could likely be achieved carrying a 1000-pound trailer as well. That is how rock-solid and tough the foundations of the GX460 are. Additionally, fuel economy is not class-best, but is not the worst in the comparison below -- which also includes the thirsty Range Rover Sport and its supercharged 5.0-liter V8.
TRIMS AND PRICING COMPARISON
The GX460 comes in three flavors: standard, Premium and Luxury. Pricing starts at around $50,000 for the standard truck, and jumps $5k with each increment up the ladder. What are the biggest changes and advantages of the Premium and Lux trims?
Premium: brings a longer list of comfort features, plus options for three interior shades versus the standard model's black leather setup only.
Luxury: Even more features! Includes super-premium additional cabin choices, as well as self-leveling air suspension on the rear axle. This Luxury truck also includes three selectable ride heights - which is not possible on the other two models, even with the standard gas struts and auto-leveling corner controls.
INTERIOR COLORS - Mahogany wood and Ivory leather on GX460 Lux new-for-2014
So, is the Lexus GX460 for you? The features identified above certainly reinforce its world-beating position as the most reliable and also toughest truck out there for when the going gets not just rough -- but life-threatening. A varient of this model is popular with the United Nations in a white/blue paint scheme -- which is all you really need to know about how awesome the big GX460 performs under duress.
Armored models are also quite popular, with numerous firms preferring the GX460 for its immense chassis strength paired with hushed and super-lux interior refinement.
That is really the name of the game for the GX460 -- keep moving, keep towing that boat, and keep things 65-degrees and air-conditioned even when bullets are flying.
Sure, most GX460s in the US will have a much more charmed existence. At first. But after their first tours of duty in posh towns and cities, they will be redeployed. Perhaps rural USA first. But then perhaps Mexico. Then perhaps Costa Rica -- and down toward Antarctica before heading to Namibia and on from there. The GX460 is a world-renowned icon at this point.
In short, the GX460 is strong enough to outlive us all. Impeccable engineering and build quality, un-flustered off-road and towing skills, and bring-the-family room inside.
With pricing that is now seeming affordable versus the $90,000 GL-Class and $70,000 Chevrolets --- the GX460 is starting to seem like a sensible choice in a scary and unpredictable world.
2014 Lexus GX460 Premium - INTERIOR PHOTOS
2014 Lexus GX460 Premium - EXTERIOR PHOTOS
COMPETITIVE COMPARISON vs BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL450 and RANGE ROVER SPORT
|COMPETITOR||2014 GX 460 Premium||2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i||2014 MERCEDES-BENZ GL-CLASS GL450 4MATIC||2014 LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER SPORT Supercharged|