The updated 2014 GX 460 has been out for a few months now, and Lexus has to be happy with the public response. A perennial slow-seller since the second generation debuted in 2010, this recent facelift has been a major success — in the last two months, sales have increased 125% in the USA and 113% in Canada.
I recently spent a week with the mid-size SUV, in hopes of figuring out where I stand on the issue — should the GX be cancelled or not?
With this mid-cycle facelift, Lexus has fixed the biggest problem with the GX, replacing its droopy front face with sharp angles and a more suitable headlight design — the GX might be the best example of retrofitting the new Lexus spindle grille design onto an existing model:
It’s the side profile that pays the price for the improved front-end — the nose now appears too long and unbalances the SUV slightly:
Then there’s the rear design, let down only by its Altezza-styled rear light casing:
There have always been complaints about the GX’s side-hinged rear door, but it’s never bothered me in the time I’ve spent with the vehicle (that said, space is hardly at a premium where I live and the places I go, so I’m able to swing the door open with reckless abandon).
The interior is a functional space, deep in leather but only lightly accented with wood accents. In this particular model, the color scheme is an awkward fit — there’s simply nothing rugged about Ecru:
After growing used to the Remote Touch interface in most other Lexus vehicles, the touchscreen was an enjoyable throwback to a simpler time. In fact, I found this to be the central theme in the GX interior design — everything is oversized, with a emphasis on usability.
In the winter cold, the engine starts up with a decidedly un-Lexus-like roar that travels right up the steering column.
The GX hits a sweet spot with its performance, the 329 lb-ft of torque delivering ample acceleration — depending on your perspective, it’s either a positive or a negative that I paid little attention to the power.
The adaptive air suspension is well set up, with three modes (Sport, Normal, & Comfort) that are clearly defined and distinct from one another. Without exaggeration, the GX is the only Lexus I’ve ever driven in Comfort mode for an extended duration — it helped to soften up the ride on roads made rough from the winter.
Whenever driving a new Lexus, I try to imagine it in my life — how it would fit in with my three-person family and the way we do things.
Speaking strictly about the Lexus SUV lineup, the RX would be the more logical choice with its fuel-efficient V6 and smaller size, but the GX is brawny, more capable — I live in a rural area, my driveway is stone and dirt, and the GX satisfied my desire for a truck without actually being a truck.
But then there’s the bigger question: Should the GX be discontinued? There’s two approaches to the question, and like many decisions, there’s a disconnect between emotion & logic.
There’s something very raw about the GX — it meets any definition of a luxury SUV, but there’s an underlying workmanlike attitude that brings a lot of character. The interior softens the edges considerably, but there’s a capability that can’t be ignored. No other way to put it — the GX just feels right.
The strike against the GX has nothing to do with the vehicle itself, rather it’s the LX 570 that presents the biggest obstacle. Despite the significant difference in price between the two models, there’s really no room in the Lexus lineup for two body-on-frame SUVs, not when Lexus lacks a more marketable seven seat crossover. Simply put, Lexus will not be discontinuing the LX.
In the end, I have to think the GX is on borrowed time. What do you think?