Once upon a time, when the price of the Prado hadn’t yet climbed higher than the highest dune it ever climbed, a friend of mine bought one. He justified his choice as something close to the Land Cruiser with a price that was nowhere close. Yet, as I later found out, the two were unmistakably different. There is no dearth of disparaging myths and cynical stories in motoringdom. One of them goes how the Lexus GX was nothing but a Prado in comfort clothing. Not without bits of truth, but as I found out from the elevated driver’s seat of the Lexus GX, there is a huge difference.
UPSIDE: Family friendly, Superior comfort, Multi terrain capability, Great Value
FLIPSIDE: Side and rear styling, Body roll, Less powerful than many V8 rivals
THE PRICE: Premier AED 210,000 / Prestige: AED 230,000 (+ Park Assist System, Lane Change Assist with Blind Spot Monitor) / Platinum: AED 260,000 (Radar Cruise Control, Pre-crash safety)
SPECS: 4.6L V8 engine, 6-speed Automatic transmission, 292 hp @5500 rpm, Torque 438 Nm @ 3500 rpm, Full time 4-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS: 4805 x 1885 x 1845 mm (L x W x H) Wheelbase: 2790 mm Gross weight: 2990 kg, 18” alloys
To begin with, the LX 460 is an SUV built on the Prado platform but hosts a 4.6L Land Cruiser engine. Prado models max out at 4.0L. One of the few ‘SUVs’ deserving of that title, the Lexus GX comes equipped with a host of controls that lets you explore unchartered territory. From rocker switches that control the Comfort or Sport modes to the four wheel drive, the central differential lock, the height-adjustable suspension, and the standard hill descent control.
The high stance and super-heavy body translate to restrictive speed confidence in corners, yet with an almost versatile compatibility with different terrain. The unshakeable comfort of the Lexus GX hardly registers any blip or bump on the road.
Easygoing even during a quick lane change, the Lexus GX shows its weight as it dips its nose into corners. I could feel its two and half tonnes being lugged around the non-steering rear wheels. The body roll kept giving some loose stuff in the rear a tough time. Still, the large SUV makes a U-turn at one go with a suprisingly sharp turning angle.
Nothing seems to slow down the thrust of the 4.6L engine once past the 2000 mark on the tacho. But ironically, it lacks the kind of drawing power many ‘heavy-eights’ display. The Lexus GX is armed with 301 hp only with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 0 – 100 kmph took 8.6 seconds to come up but that didn’t help to keep the fuel figures down – 5.8 kms per litre is normal V8 territory.
Cabin and Controls
Right from the off-white ventilated seats to the soft touch material and the wooden trims, the Lexus GX overwhelms with the enwrapping comfort. (The Land Cruiser Prado cabin would look ‘stripped’ in comparison.)
Two really wide side view mirrors, blind spot monitors and an all-seeing camera – one thing you can’t complain about this elevated SUV is the view around. Though their quality wasn’t all that great, the visuals from around the right hand running board and front left corner were especially helpful around parking ramps. It is a big car and it’s good to see what you’re heading into. The navigation too keeps a level head; though you could get lost in the setting when you resume from the middle.
The clearance, wheel travel and the air suspensions together make a great case for off-roading. The yawning gap between the outer rims of the 18 inch wheels and the fenders say it aloud.
There wasn’t much to mark my test car from its previous generation. Except the new spindle grill that yawns up front or the stylish new lights and lower lamps that give the GX a proper Lexus façade. The new innards of the rear lamps and the hard plastic wrap is supposed to be suggestive of luxury, if only because it’s on a Lexus.
The Lexus GX fervidly holds on to family status with its safety, storage and comfort features. The air suspensions and the generous wheel travel make the tall vehicle family friendly, with ladder boards to climb up. The access seating and the retractable steering also make for easy entry and exit.
The horizontal boot door opens to enormous space, that compares with the Land Rover LR4, even with the third row seats configured. The cool box under the armrest and the signature 17-speaker Mark and Levinson DVD system in my test car (the others have a 9 speaker Lexus system) are among well thought out routines in the Lexus GX cabin. I haven’t quite figured out how 24 degrees in a Lexus and a German or American car can actually feel quite different but no worries, you have the option to shut off the rear air conditioner.
The Essential Lexus GX 460
Where half the notion of a ‘glorified Prado’ gets entertained is in the boxy, narrow and tall styling of the Lexus GX. Within this shell and under the bonnet, the GX is on a different scale of comfort and capability. Perhaps the Land Rover LR4 is slightly better in handling, but the Lexus GX 460 surpasses it in the cabin appointments and ride setting.
The Lexus GX has Multi-terrain Select and Lexus Voice Navigation System as standard while the top of the line justifies 30,000 extra dirhams with a Pre-crash safety, rear seat entertainment and Mark & Levinson sound. As for its key promise as a family SUV, the Lexus GX doesn’t discriminate between front and rear passengers. Comfort is for all.
Drive Courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors Lexus