The second-generation Lexus GX was introduced to the U.S. more than a decade ago, and not much has changed since, save a mild refresh for the 2019 model year and upgrades to its cabin in 2021. The GX was also one of several Lexus vehicles to recently receive the marque’s new upscale Black Line trim as an option. So, does the Black Line help keep this somewhat antiquated, midsize Lexus SUV from showing its age? Or is it one of those awkward cosmetic procedures that only make things worse?
A 12-Year-Old Chassis
There’s no getting around it, the GX is getting old, with its primary anachronism being its truck-style body-on-frame design with a live rear axle that can compromise on-road performance. But its four-link and coil spring suspension setup and standard Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) help keep the harshness in check for the most part. That said, it’s not quite the dynamic match of its Lexus stablemates or other luxury SUV competitors with independent rear suspensions from a compliance perspective.
One of the benefits of its older chassis, however, is that the 2022 Lexus GX Black Line has a traction control system that can be genuinely turned off, allowing for slightly more control off-road. Although the setup can feel on the pushy side at times and the GX tends to dive hard on braking and corner entry, the suspension articulates well, even with the standard KDSS in place. Be prepared, though, when using the GX’s Downhill Assist Control, which is very Toyota in that it’s loud when activated and can be jarring to the uninitiated.
When you hit the gas, the GX’s naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8 with 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque propels the 5,303-pound Lexus SUV to a 0-60-mph time of 7.5 seconds onto a 15.8-second quarter mile at 88.7 mph. It takes a while to haul it down, at 135 feet, but our test team reported a progressive brake pedal feel.
It can also haul more than a little when the need arises. With the optional tow kit installed, which includes a hitch as well as four-pin flat and five-pin round trailer connectors, the GX can tow as much as 6,500 pounds.
The Black Line Equipment
At $61,960 all in (base price for the GX is $56,500), this particular test vehicle was set up more for luxury-themed on-road duty. But with a brake-actuated axle locker system, Torsen center differential, and high/low selectable AWD, it’s more than capable of getting some four-wheel drifts going on loose dirt surfaces. Unfortunately, the LT265/60R18 Bridgestone Dueler HT highway terrain tires, which wrap around a set of Black Line specific, split-six spoke aluminum wheels, weren’t meant for much more than that.
As part of the Black Line package, the GX’s normal chrome trim has been replaced with black chrome or body color pieces that help to offset the large, love-it-or-loathe-it Predator-mouth-style Lexus grille. Out back, Garnet Red-tinted taillights are an eye-catching touch.
The front triple projector LED headlight housings are also dark chrome, but we found the headlights themselves to be a bit lacking during a nighttime mountain excursion. Forward lighting was good, but cornering lighting was lacking, even with the fog lights on and using both high- and low-beam settings. Dirt wasn’t an issue, though, thanks to the GX’s optional headlight squirters.
GX Cabin and Tech
Inside, you’re treated to some of the best materials Lexus has to offer. The interior is a mix of Matte Black Ash wood trim and gray leather materials that work well together. The heated and cooled 10-way power front seats feature contrasting gray stitching, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel comes with a heating feature. During our test drive, multiple hour-plus trips were comfortable and only slightly jarring over rougher paved surfaces.
Noise in the cabin was minimal at freeway speeds with just the sound of Toyota’s 1UZ-FE V-8 bellowing out of the tester’s optional chrome exhaust tips when stomping on the loud pedal. The six-speed automatic shifted smoothly and its 3.91:1 rear gear ratio kept the engine at a comfortable audible level while cruising. Speaking of cruising, the GX Black Line’s radar-based system keeps you comfortably behind the leading car, at least until your speed drops below 32 mph; then you’re on your own. That’s also where its lane keep assist drops out, which warns you by vibrating the steering wheel.
The instrument panel’s vehicle information screen features a handy front wheel angle guide to let you know roughly the direction they’re pointing. This is especially useful while parking and, in conjunction with the variable gear ratio steering (VGRS) system, driving over hills with your nose pointed at the sky. The GX’s instrument cluster itself was bright without being too distracting during night driving, but unfortunately there isn’t an indicator to let you know if your lights are off.
Its infotainment system was far easier to use with the 10.3-inch touchscreen than navigating the menus over the trackpad setup. Much like laptop trackpads, a gentle push on the pad would select the menu or option, but it’s tough to do while driving. It was also nice to have real buttons to control the radio and climate control systems.
Second Row, Third Row, and Cargo
The second row’s 40/20/40 split setup can slide and recline for maximum middle passenger comfort, though the second row center passenger predictably loses a little bit of headroom versus the two outer occupants, with 40.4 inches for the outers and 40.2 inches for the center rider. All three second-row passengers get 34.1 inches of legroom, however. The passenger side of the second row slides forward for access to the third-row seats, which—with 35.2 inches of headroom and 29.3 inches of legroom—are tight and only really set up for folks under 5 feet tall. There are two USB ports and a 12-volt DC outlet in the front center console and two more USB ports in the rear center console for second-row passengers.
To access the rear cargo area, the rear gate of the GX is hinged on the passenger side with a lockout on the door strut to keep it open when you need to access the roof. You can also reach the cargo area by using the lift-up glass panel, which opens by a button on the lower driver’s side area of the window trim. With the gate open, you’ll find a total cargo room of 64.7 cubic feet with all the rear seats folded flat, and there’s a 100-watt, 120-volt AC outlet at the back. Our tester was also outfitted with an optional set of Black Line crossbars for extra roof luggage storage.
Who Is It Really For?
If you’re looking for a luxury SUV with some old-school off-road chops, V-8 power, and a blacked-out look—especially on that grille—the 2022 Lexus GX460 Black Line is a solid choice. It’s a bit outdated structurally, it’s inefficient for its class, and it’s missing some modern tech and amenities, but its Black Line face-lift gives the GX just enough of a nip and tuck to make up for most of it.
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