Sunday Car Review: 2023 Lexus GX 460 Is Hay Bale Ready

After getting annihilated by readers for suggesting a hybrid mid-sized SUV was 'perfect for Wyoming's families,' automotive writer Aaron Turpen reviews the largest and "oldest-school SUV still being sold as new today" -- the 2023 Lexus GX 460.

Aaron Turpen

March 12, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

I was recently schooled in the fact that the only sport utility suitable for use in Wyoming is one which can haul six bales of hay and pull a horse trailer. Probably while plowing snow while not drinking drinks with umbrellas in them.

Given this vital information, I attempted to find a Snowcat to review. I did not find one. I did,  however, find the oldest-school SUV still being sold as new today. That would be the 2023 Lexus GX 460. The last redesign for this sport utility was in 2010. A time when you couldn’t conceal carry a weapon in Wyoming without asking permission first. AKA “The before times.”

The 2023 GX 460 is a large, luxurious, tall, seven-seat SUV with a body-on-frame design and full-time four-wheel drive. The GX shares a lot with Toyota’s legendary Land Cruiser, which is why it’s so capable.

There is a big, thirsty V8 engine under the GX’s hood that pushes 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is naturally aspirated, though, so that power output comes in a long curve rather than a quick plateau.

Nice when you’re off-road or towing heavy, but not always as great the rest of the time. The GX 460 isn’t sluggish on the road, but it’s not in a hurry either. It kind of floats that middle ground between “will I make that freeway speed before merging?” and “I can definitely beat that semi-truck coming up the ramp.”

Aside from its now-dated looks, which I think are still impressive, the Lexus GX 460 also has a signature Lexus interior. This means plush seating, lots of color and materials blending, and a leather-meets-lavender luxury smell. Everything about the interior is richly inviting.

That is, everything but the third row of seating and the Atari-like infotainment setup. The third row seats are suitable for kids. There is little to no legroom and those third row seats are about the only chairs worse than the seats on Frontier Airlines.

And when the third row is deployed for use, you’ll have to pack your six bales of hay on top of whoever’s sitting in them or on the roof because there’s little cargo space left.

The swing gate comes out to the right, towards the curb. But since we don’t parallel park in Wyoming, that’s probably not a big deal.

The cargo space, with the third row folded down, will probably accommodate at least five bales. Six if the last one isn’t wrapped and is shoved in by piece. This being a luxury SUV, though, skip the last bale and put a shop vac in there instead. Don’t leave a mess.

Standard with the GX 460 is a tow hitch and plugs. Towing is rated at 6,500 pounds, which is roughly what a two-horse trailer with horses in it likely weighs.

The 2023 GX 460 is a great off-road rig with a lot more capability than most would give a luxury SUV like this credit for. A lot of that comes thanks to its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, or KDSS, which appears on a lot of Toyota-made vehicles. This adaptive suspension allows for a lot of flex and movement for extreme stability and “get over that” competence.

What it doesn’t accommodate very well are dirt roads. Every wash in the washboard will come through and into the cabin. Every pothole and rut will shake this rig like it’s grandpa’s Farmall on a fresh-plowed field.

The upside to the GX 460’s ride quality is that outside of those conditions, when on the paved road, it’s far better than any Jeep or 1960s farm truck. It’s smooth, quiet, and even absorbs most of the crosswind noise associated with Wyoming driving.

The 2023 Lexus GX 460 has a starting price of about $56,500 plus delivery. Most buyers are likely to be in the $60-$65,000 range. Fuel economy is rated at an optimistic 16 mpg combined.

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Aaron Turpen