Forty-seven days of snow fall this winter in Chicago. Seventy-four inches of total accumulation. And it ain't over...YET!
The 2014 Lexus GX460 3-row luxury mid Sport Utility Vehicle doesn't mind it a bit. "Drive...He Said" hit the 4-wheel drive button located below the keyless start button. Flicking the transfer case lever on the center console to "Hi4," sets off a blaring chime.
- Heavy Timberlands prodded the throttle the Lexus GX460 into a waltz up a 10° driveway incline loaded with 6" of packed snow. Armed with the deep tread of Michelin Latitude LT M+S tires, within a few passes we could have cleared the entire driveway for more terrestrial vehicles.
- Where the salt melt, freeze and re-thaw had planted meteor-crash holes on the tarmac, not one 18" wheel stepped out of bounds. The Mahogany and leather steering wheel never fought back, as our warmed backsides nestled in kidskin soft semi-aniline leather.
- Keeping up with the style conscious the 2014 GX460 gets the Lexus corporate spindle grille and fascia transplant, 18" wheels, running boards and all the drama part and parcel of generous LED lighting and chrome.
- The satiny twin-cam V8 gasoline powerplant + short final drive 6-speed auto-gearbox combo rarely feels over-exerted as does some of the competition with lower piston count. Kinetic Dynamic Suspension hydraulically increases or reduces sway-bar control, abating a fair amount of lean in turns and returning a syrupy ride.
- Not a panel nor trim piece made a peep in this 5300 pound body-on-frame Vehicle of Steel. Thick laminated glass, lots of insulation and a produce a cabin as church-mouse quiet as a Lexus LS sedan.
The $49,000 starting point for the 2014 Lexus GX460 is competitive for a three-row luxury SUV. If you can live with NuLuxe [synthetic] seat surfaces. "Wants" always cost more than "Needs." For $62,000, our Liquid Platinum Luxury model [notably] added:
- A height adjustable air-spring rear suspension; Mahogany veneers; perforated semi-aniline steer-hides; 19 speaker 330 watt Mark Levinson 7.1 discrete channel sound system;
- Blind spot warming, audible park assist and rear cross-traffic alert
- SD navigation displayed on a crisp 8" LCD touch screen with enhanced voice commands; three zone automatic climate control; headlight washers; power folding side mirrors;
- Power folding third row seats, three setting Adaptive Ride Control, a rear air spring suspension with adjustable rear height.
Making us wonder what happened to the absent [yet available] intelligent cruise control, lane departure alert, transmission crawl mode and Bird's Eye view stereoscopic cameras.
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The robustness of the GX460 that so appeals to enthusiast off-roaders may find detractors among cross-over adherents:
- The slight pitch and bob that comes with a solid-rear axle might be acceptable on the more "rough and tumble", related Toyota 4-Runner.
- The LED clock radio style climate / clock display bar, satin metallic plastic trim and dash panels are bereft of the emotional design language inside today's Hyundai's.
- An aircraft's slew of control switches and buttons ought be supplemented by a central hand controller like the kind in the Lexus RX350 crossover.
- Cargo room, with 7 occupants aboard, is marginally larger than the trunk space in a Lexus IS-C [as in Convertible] with hard roof stowed.
- 17 combined miles per gallon;
- To remedy a nearly 2-foot step up from the ground the GX460 offers standard high-heel snagging running boards.
More white flakes are forecast for Chicagoland tonight. The 2014 Lexus GX460 responds with a "Throw Away Your Snow Shovel" attitude. Bach on the Mark Levinson 7.1 never sounded as good as when the GX460 makes perfect parking lot donuts in the fresh powder.