Lexus may have been quiet of late, but they've still got the cache. For one, Jay-Z's still name-checking them ("New York State of Mind" - heard it?) And two, a few months back the brand quietly busted out the what-the...? LFA, an elite, tech-loaded supercar destined to go toe-to-toe with Ferrari.
We'd love to drive the LFA, but for some reason, Lexus couldn't locate one of those $375,000 models to loan us for the weekend. Strange! So instead we spent a couple of days behind the wheel of the GX460, a seven-passenger SUV that falls somewhere between burly off-roader and limo.
Interestingly the GX460's got some legit off-road cred, courtesy of its chassis-mate the Toyota 4Runner, but the Lexus adds some techy smarts to the mix. We didn't get a chance to take the vehicle out of NYC, but out in the wild, you could theoretically switch on the GX's crawl control to ascend steeps, or utilize a kinetic suspension system to absorb huge bumps in your path. Don't think that will work for you? Maybe you should get your driveway repaved.
What we did get to abuse: the cabin. Quiet as a panic room, the GX460's interior is swathed in semi-aniline leather, and has everything from real wood appointments to butt-chilling climate control for the seats. Even on awful Brooklyn roads, there were no rattles to be found, except those coming from the Black Keys over the 17-speaker stereo. Build quality is stellar. And nobody does those "oh shit" handles mounted on the A-pillar better than Lexus. They feel so solid in the hand that we wanted to bust some gymnastics while driving.
But it all comes down to the drive, and that's where we wanted more from the GX460. More power, literally. At 301 horsepower and 5,300 lbs, the GX drives smooth but doesn't excite when you give it the beans, unlike its thirstier, but more connected-to-the-road competitor the 375-hp Land Rover LR4 or even the less-luxe (and built only for on-road use) Ford Flex, which manages to get an impressive 355hp out of a V-6.
The tech is out there. So when Lexus pairs the GX's top-flight build with a powerplant to match it, we'll be in line. Now, to go see about that raise...
2010 Lexus GX460
Price: from $52,845
Engine: DOHC 32 Valve V-8
Torque: 329 lb.-ft@3500rpm
0-60: 7.8 seconds