The pace of change can be a tough mistress to keep up with sometimes. Technology has been on a nitrous-powered rocket as far as progress is concerned, with the amount of evolution here being very noticeable over the last few decades. But while some automakers have made the art of luring customers with the next big thing an art form. What if you’re a consumer that prefers to hang on to old technology and prefers to own a tool that’s reliable and proven? Lexus might have the thing you’re looking for with the 2021 Lexus GX 460. But can the GX still show the young upstarts how it’s done in the SUV segment? Or has it aged out of the race?
Old School Styling In A Nicely Crafted Suit
Speaking of change, many automotive offerings are typically updated every four years, but this 11-year-old remnant of the past is still soldiering through life with plenty of confidence. That’s not to say that it was left alone, with the GX benefitting from a minor suite of exterior updates back in 2020.
Our Luxury grade tester certainly has plenty of aggression in its flanks, with the front fascia featuring a large front spindle grille and sharp-looking headlights. The side profile has a very square-ish look that extends to the rear of the GX with its large taillights and rear bumper. The rear gate is not a traditional liftgate but rather an old-school barn door unit that swings out to the side. This trait means that you will have to watch where you park the GX in certain situations, but thankfully the rig retains the ability to open the rear glass separately when the main gate is closed.
While the GX 460’s exterior styling may not have the aerodynamically honed styling that defines some of its wind-cheating rivals, the look does allow the GX to showoff its links to the international version of the Toyota Land Cruiser. This beefy look should please buyers looking to make a potent albeit aging styling statement when taking the big Lexus down through town.
Rapidly Aging GX 460 Interior Is Behind Rivals
Slip inside the GX 460, and you are immediately transported to a very different era. The cabin does come with very comfortable leather bucket seats, and there are splashes of wood trim scattered about, but you won’t mistake it for being anything that’s on the market today. For example, many modern SUV offerings have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay baked into their infotainment systems. Still, the GX’s infotainment unit is an isolated island untouched by either of those options. The center stack is also covered in rather cheap plastic and is awash in purely analog buttons.
The rest of the interior is in desperate need of an overhaul, and this dire fact of life rears itself in other regards. One prominent example is in cargo space, with our tester having a rather paltry 11.6 cubic feet of space with the third row up (that’s not a typo.) Fold it down (it’s barely suitable for human habitation anyway), and you are rewarded with 46.7 cubic feet of space. Fold-down all two rows, and it grows to 64.7 cubic feet, which is far less than what you get with both the Land Rover Defender 110 and the 2022 Acura MDX.
Dependable GX 460 Performance Almost Balances Out The Interior’s Flaws
With the interior and all five of its accompanying owners manuals doing everything it can to infuriate you, it’s very refreshing to see that the GX460 still manages to get one core thing right, performance. Power for all GX460s comes from a 4.6 liter naturally aspirated V8 that makes 301 horsepower and sends it to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The combination allowed our tester to cruise its way to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds which is slower than the 6.1 second time posted by the Audi Q7, and the 4.2 second 0 to 60 that can be achieved by the BMW X5 when equipped as an xDrive50i model.
But while the GX460 may not be the most dynamic entry in the world, it can still make a good first impression when it’s allowed to move at its own pace. Taking our tester on urban errands revealed very compliant handling and a suspension that does a good job delivering butter-smooth ride quality. However, it’s when the road ends where the GX460 truly shines in its element. With 8.1 inches of clearance, the suspension helps provide enough clearance for the GX to make short work of obstacles. Our tester also comes with dual coolers for the transmission and an electronically operated transfer case, and a limited-slip differential for extra security. It also doesn’t hurt either that the GX can tow up to 6,500 lbs which is sufficient for many boats and trailers.
2021 GX 460 Value Quotient
Pricing for the 2021 Lexus GX460 starts at $53,250 for the base model, which nets you the bulk of the essentials as well as some standard luxury frills. Buyers looking for more equipment will have to shell out $56,340 for the GX460 Premium model, which adds navigation, Amazon Alexa capability, and tri-zone climate control.
Topping out the range is the Luxury model, which wields a lofty $64,515 sticker. This trim is where Lexus’s adaptive variable suspension makes its appearance, as well as semi-aniline leather as well as a power-folding third row. Our Luxury grade tester had a final sticker of just over $66,000 thanks to a liberal sprinkling of options as well as assorted fees.
When viewed against some of the established competition, the GX460 will undoubtedly cater to a tiny slice of the market. It’s a dinosaur in terms of technology, but at the same time, it offers a very high degree of off-road prowess, which is missing from some of its rivals. A big threat to the GX is the recently launched Land Rover Defender 110. While the Defender is even more expensive than the GX460 Luxury when optioned up, the Defender has several advantages over the aging Lexus. The revived icon has a better infotainment system and an inline-six engine with mild-hybrid technology to boost its fuel economy. The Defender also has a large pool of accessories and off-road toys that are not available on the GX.
The 2021 Lexus GX460 is like a high-priced bottle of old-school whiskey when it comes down to it. It’s not for everyone, but if your a member of the luxury jet-set that likes having trail-busting hardware, V8 power and is willing to sacrifice some of the benefits of the modern world to do it, the 2021 Lexus GX 460 will be the perfect brew for you.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.