2014 Lexus GX 460 Walk Around

The Lexus GX is an old-school body-on-frame SUV. For 2014, it gets the trademarked Lexus spindle grille, sharing the design language with other models, so it doesn't look like a big Honda any more. The GX variation of the trademarked spindle grille is not one of Lexus's best, with chrome angles and bars running in different directions over gaping black honeycomb, so busy that not much body color peeks through, like a face that's all mouth and teeth, and no cheek or chin. New LED headlamps with three round lenses fly in from the fenders, wedge-shaped and wrapped in chrome.

The taillamps are also new for 2014, with more clear plastic. Big red taillamps seem to be a thing of the past. The new 18-inch split six-spoke alloy wheels painted Liquid Graphite, on the Luxury model, are a huge improvement over the old plain wheels.

The cargo door opens like a door, so the window pops up like a hatch, a big convenience, and more efficient because you don't have to raise a liftgate for something small, and you never have to duck or wait. The rear door swings out toward the sidewalk, with its handle hidden near the license plate. The LED taillights use a cluster of elements to generate their glow, with more white in 2014. The rear wiper is mounted under the rear spoiler, leaving the back window free of obstruction.

Luxury models get more chrome trim at the rear windows, and brighter wheels.

Interior

The angles on the body follow the driver into the seat. You can see the edges through the windshield and on the dashboard; everywhere you look there are abrupt transitions.

The Lexus GX seats up to seven passengers and comes with three rows of seating. The front row is spacious, with storage bins and pockets located overhead, in the center console, and side door pockets. The front seats are 10-way power adjustable, both heated and cooled. The four-spoke steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and automatically tilts away when the Power button is pushed to shut the GX off. There are adjustable armrests between the front seats.

The controls are nicely designed and integrated, with conspicuously high-quality wood and leather in the Base model. Our Luxury model had Linear Espresso wood with Abyss Black leather. The leather wrapped steering wheel holds redundant switches for cruise control, audio and navigation. The cabin is very quiet, so you'll be fully able to enjoy the sound system, nine-speaker, 6CD, MP3, satellite radio, streaming audio via Bluetooth.

The center stack is designed around a new 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system designed to offer expanded connectivity.

The new system can display three functions on the screen at the same time: navigation in 3D, audio (including HD radio and Bluetooth), and weather. The screen is also used for the backup monitor, HD Radio, phone book, and most usefully, vehicle information display. We like it when vehicle operating information is separate, located between the driver's eyes. The multimedia system uses cache radio which can pause live radio and automatically records each previous 15 minutes.

The backup monitor offers three different views around the GX, generated by two wide-angle cameras that display images of what's behind the vehicle whenever Reverse is selected.

Second-row seating is reasonably roomy and versatile, allowing for either three passengers or two passengers with a center armrest with cupholder, and overhead reading lamps. The outboard seats are full-sized, with available heating and cooling. The center seat is less accommodating. The second-row bench is split 40/20/40 and flops down easily.

Third-row access is from the passenger side, where the second-row seat moves forward to allow walk-in access to the third row. We found the process awkward, and the wayback seats, like them all, don't have much legroom. For smaller passengers or short trips, the rearmost seats will be adequate, but adults will be cramped.

However it's nice that the third-row seats fold flat at the push of a button, converting the GX to a five-passenger SUV with much storage, which is how it will be used more. The interior is vast because the GX is so long: we carried a 10-foot length of plastic electrical conduit totally inside the vehicle. Total cargo capacity with the seats folded is an epic 92 cubic feet.

The optional Mark Levinson audio system is for audiophiles and uses 17 speakers, powered by 330 watts with less than 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion, and can play DVDs or CDs in addition to files from outside sources. A rear-seat entertainment system, with remote control, is bundled with the Mark Levinson audio system as an additional option. The Mark Levinson system has enough clean power to allow for listening at very high volumes with practically no distortion. We didn't have a back-seat passenger during our drive, but we did listen from the back seat later on, and sure enough, the sound is just as good in the back seat as the front. It's an option that, while on the expensive side, will truly be appreciated by those who love their music.

Lexus Enform is the latest in Lexus telematic systems, and it comes standard on the GX. Enform is a subscription-based live-operator assist system that enables real-time assistance without having to fuss with navigation programming. To test it, we pushed the button, an operator picked up and downloaded directions to our lunch destination. We felt guilty asking a live operator to direct us to a burger joint, but it is nice to know that someone is standing by 24/7. Enform is optional, bundled with Navigation. Another system, Safety Connect, is standard on the GX and provides automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assistance and enhanced roadside assistance.

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