Ted LaturnusKissing cousin to the 4Runner, the Lexus GX 460 is the upscale version of Toyota’s popular SUV. It has a body-on-frame design and more stuff and a higher price tag, but features the same basic body style, wheelbase, seating capacity and driving experience.

In 2011, it was powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine that delivered 301 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic only. This engine was used elsewhere in Lexus’s lineup. It featured plenty of power, was almost completely silent in operation and, on the scale of things, no worse on gas than most of the competition.

The GX 460 also came with all-wheel-drive, a Torsen centre differential, hill-start assist, and skid plates for the fuel tank and transfer case. So you could take it off-road with some degree of confidence.

On some models you could also get an upgraded traction control system, an off-road cruise control called Crawl Control and a multi-terrain select feature, among other things. This last feature allowed you to vary the vehicle’s anti-lock braking and traction control systems to suit different driving conditions.

Unlike the 4Runner, which could be kind of spartan, luxury abounded in the GX 460. Standard kit included heated and ventilated front bucket seats, leather interior, push-button start, backup camera, satellite radio, voice-command navigation system, and an Eco driving guide. This last feature lets the driver know when they’re driving sensibly via a small green light on the dash that lights up when you’re light on the throttle pedal. One note here: the GX 460’s V8 needed premium gas.

2011 Lexus GX 460

Kissing cousin to the 4Runner, the Lexus GX 460 is the upscale version of Toyota’s popular SUV

Other extras included a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system with headphones and remote, better quality leather interior, adjustable suspension, heated steering wheel and a lane-departure alert.

One interesting feature of the made-in-Japan GX 460 came in the form of a two-piece tailgate. Like most SUVs, the rear window is activated remotely, opening upwards to allow you to reach in and store groceries and so on. But the bottom section swings outward to the right, as opposed to folding straight out. Total storage capacity was 1,832 litres.

The second-row seats featured their own heat controls, while the third-row seats folded completely flat.

Just one safety recall is reported from Transport Canada, and it concerned the vehicle stability control system. Under certain driving conditions, such as going through a corner too quickly, the back end could break away and the driver could lose control. Reprogramming the software in the system will sort this out, apparently.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has five technical service bulletins for the GX 460. These include the infamous accelerator pedal brouhaha, an upgrade alert for the electronic control unit (ECU), an unintended acceleration note and a couple of service procedure updates.

Some NHTSA complaints from owners:

  • “every time I apply the brakes, I hear a squeaking noise”;
  • “the brakes seem extremely mushy”;
  • “the vehicle has front-end vibrations at 60-65 mph”;
  • “while I was driving and almost home, the right front wheel of my vehicle exploded.”

Consumer Reports loved this one. “The ride is quiet and comfortable and off-road capability is commendable,” they say. It received a “good bet” award from this organization, with top marks in every category, with the sole exception of the audio system. Overall, it garnered the best used car prediction grade CR offers and was on their “best of the best” list.

Marketing researcher J.D. Power was enthusiastic, with some reservations. They bestowed top marks for the GX 460’s body and interior quality, as well as its overall mechanical quality, but held back when it came to overall performance and design and overall dependability. It received good marks in these areas but not the best.

Still, it was an award recipient for this organization’s initial quality study for midsize premium crossovers and SUVs.

Unsurprisingly, the GX 460 has held up well in terms of resale and residual value. From a base price of just under $70,000 new, it seems to be going for $25,000 to $40,000 these days, depending on equipment level and mileage.

2011 Lexus GX460

Original base price: $69,500
Engine: 4.6-litre V8
Horsepower/torque: 301/329
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 14.1 city and 9.8 highway, with premium gas
Some alternatives: Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti FX50,  Mercedes-Benz GL Class

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.

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