The 2010 GX 460 is the successor to the 2009 GX 470. With the GX 460, Lexus uses a more advanced variable-valve timing to downsize the engine yet increase horsepower and fuel economy. However, don't expect a dramatic difference in fuel economy. Weighing in at 5,305 pounds, the engine has a lot of metal to move. Mated to its six-speed-automatic transmission, the engine turns in EPA fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. In our driving, we averaged 16.2 mpg through city, freeway, and mountain roads.
Putting our green concerns aside, we climbed into the cabin, and we literally mean climbed, as the height necessitated using the running board to get in. The GX 460 is pure SUV, with a ride height above most modern crossovers. The GX 460's body-on-frame construction is how they built trucks and even cars 100 years ago.
However, its navigation system comes from this century. We recognize the look of the maps from previous Lexus models, but unlike those DVD-based navigation systems, the GX 460 stores its maps on a hard drive. Given the extra storage space, we would have expected Lexus to include 3D maps, but this system remains 2D-only.
Likewise, the navigation system's touch-screen interface has the same icons and onscreen keyboard as previous Lexus models have, except it now has a feature called Destination Assist. Part of Lexus' new Enform telematics service, Destination Assist dials an operator who can look up business addresses and send the information to the navigation system. More intriguing is the eDestination feature that lets Lexus owners log in to the Enform Web site, find and save various destinations, and then download them to the navigation system from within the car.
Under route guidance, this navigation system uses its XM NavTraffic feed to show traffic problems on the maps and route around potential problems. However, that information didn't stop it from guiding us into some nasty stop-and-go traffic. In its defense, the system did give an audible warning about bad traffic on the route.
The car also has external data for weather, stock prices, and sports scores, the latter two new features for Lexus. When we selected a stock symbol in the configuration menu, it pulled up the stock screen, and we were able to see the current price and how much it had dropped during the day. Touching the entry on the screen made the GX 460 read out the current price and point change, a feature designed to help drivers keep their eyes on the road.
As our vehicle had the Premium trim, it came with an adjustable air suspension, along with a set of controls on the console suggesting the GX 460 could handle serious off-roading. Along with ride height adjustment, these controls engaged descent control, switched between four-wheel-drive low and high, and changed the suspension setting from Comfort to Sport.
Using the latter, we only noticed minor differences in ride feel. In its Comfort setting, the suspension remained firm and did not allow much travel. Going over rougher pavement, we wouldn't call its ride luxurious. Its damping was good, but we certainly felt the bumps. There's only so much you can do with body-on-frame construction.
Shoving the switch into its Sport position, we noticed a slightly firmer feeling to the suspension, but it was far from dramatic. Trying it out on a few corners, the GX 460 didn't give us the confidence to really throw it around. The Sport mode lowers it a little, but it is still a tall vehicle with plenty of weight, and the air suspension does not actively counteract roll.
The power steering is also tuned more for the parking lot than mountain roads. In typical Lexus style, it takes little effort to turn the wheel. Although a boon for cranking the wheels around in a parking garage, this steering tuning rules out road feel.