Lexus GX460 Luxury SUV
By Kathy Chin Leong
There were three of us moms taking a weekend away from the kids. The Lexus GX460 seemed like the perfect car for our Healdsburg getaway. The latest SUV from Lexus is priced at $60,715, and after you add some bells and whistles, you leave spending $65,980. If you want the base model, you will be spending $50,000.
The car is made for big people, so I felt like we were swimming in the seats. Very roomy, yes. The car is high, so we did have to hoist ourselves up to it, which was fine. Now that we are deep into the iPhone age, there is an ample well in the front to place your smart phone and a port to recharge your device or game system.
What was not so fine was the limited storage space in the back. With three days of suitcases, we struggled to pack everything in. And just imagine if you had a family of four or little kids' things added to it. The back was simply not deep enough to fit our suitcases, food coolers, and our shopping bags after a day of fun. Maria was in the back seat, and she had to share it with extra luggage in the seat next to hers.
Unusual with this car is the fact that the back door does not open as a hatch lift back. With a handle on the left side, you open the door that swings out from left to right. Kind of odd, and I do not see any benefit to that.
By far, this car is most versatile when it comes to folding seats down and trying it out in different ways. On another day, my husband and I wanted to see if we could place our two large city bicycles inside without having to put on a bike carrier. It worked. We folded the second row seat down, and it carried the bikes like a charm. No problem.
I would say for folks who love to go on day trips, the car is great. Two people with bikes; two people with golf clubs; two people with fishing rods and tackle boxes. You get the idea. However, the car seats up to six- two in front, two in the middle, and two can squash into the pair of seats in the very back (that fold completely down). With six passengers, you won't have room for storing stuff. If you really need to drive around five or more people, buy a van!
The ride itself is notably smooth, and the vehicle is easy to drive. Riding comfort was top notch for everyone. Individual temperature controls for the front seat passenger and bun warmers that go hot or cold was a bonus. We had leather trimmed seats, a nifty leather covered shift knob, and a heated mahogany wood steering wheel that warmed up just in case it was too cold. (It never was!)
Gas mileage is not the best at 17 mpg compared to the BMW X5 which offers 21 mpg. The 4.6L V8 engine with four-wheel drive delivers strong performance in rugged areas and does well in the city. If you like riding high above the fray, this car is for you!
The navigation system is optional, but I highly recommend it. It was very useful to me along the trip to Healdsburg when we were looking for a Safeway to pick up last minute groceries. The 8-inch touch screen is plenty big, and it also features voice commands so you can ask your electronic driving buddy to find places for you.
It's got safety nailed down like you wouldn't believe. This one features LED daytime running headlamps so it is quite bright and intense. That means oncoming cars have no excuse but to see you. It's also fun to note that the car automatically goes from high beam headlamps to low-beam when it senses another car ahead of you. The luxury version comes with headlamp washers, so the lights stay as vivid and clear as possible.
On top of that, the GX 460 gifts you with automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers that will swipe intermittently according to the amount of rain pouring down from the heavens. And that's not all: a windshield-wiper de-icer also comes standard to help during those very, very cold and icy days and nights. And in slippery weather, the Torsen torque-sensing, limited-slip center differential is able to optimize traction. The four-wheel Active Traction Control keeps you grounded.
In addition, the car comes with 10 airbags- a few in front, side curtains, and first, second and third rows. It also has an optional lane departure alert system which lets you know when you are drifting outside your lane lines. This is a great feature if you are on long drives, and if you are getting a wee drowsy or inattentive at the wheel. And those blind spots during traffic? No prob! The blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is important when you want to change lanes. It also comes in handy when you are parking, for it alerts you to vehicles coming in on both sides. I felt extra secure knowing this was available to me.
Lastly, the Institutive Parking Assist, with sensors all around the car, will use beeps and tones to signal you when there is someone walking by or something is too close for comfort. Since this car is so high and long and wide, it is particularly useful.
Bottom line: This is a safe, safe vehicle that's sturdy and comfortable in all sorts of weather conditions. My only beef is that it does not have the roominess for storage for trips that require lots of shopping bags, luggage, and gear. I guess I would have to shop less, and perhaps that's a good thing.
Lexus GX460 Luxury
Seats up to 6
Price: $60,715 - $65,980