$23,874 - $25,165

2012 Lexus GX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Lexus GX was new.


Performance: 7.3

The 2012 Lexus GX offers a smooth ride, decently powerful V8 engine and serious off-roading abilities. However, a few reviewers still complain that its body-on-frame construction leads to a less-than-serene driving experience.

  • “Around town, the light-effort steering and quick throttle response make the GX feel small, easy to drive and perfectly suited to the country club environment it will no doubt live in during most of its life. It doesn't have the impenetrable, military-grade feel of the Land Rover either.” -- Edmunds
  • "Smooth and absorbent overall, though GX 460's truck-based roots are evident with slight bounce and occasional wobble on blemished surfaces." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Lexus GX 460 has a 4.6-liter V8 that makes 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque  that’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Some test drivers say the engine isn’t up to the GX’s weight, while others say it’s able to handle most tasks owners will throw its way. The Lexus GX can tow up to 6,500 pounds when equipped with the towing preparation package.

According to the EPA, the 2012 GX is rated at 15/20 mpg city/highway. While those numbers aren’t great when compared with crossover SUVS, you won’t find better fuel economy in a luxury off-road vehicle. For better fuel economy, you’ll have to give up the GX’s off-road skills and look at a crossover.

  • "This powertrain has impeccable manners. It's quiet, smooth, and throttle responsive. Versus the V-6s common to the competition, Lexus has a definite advantage here." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Despite GX 460's considerable heft, acceleration is strong and exceptionally smooth in both around-town and highway driving. The transmission downshifts promptly for good passing punch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's significant weight for the powertrain to deal with, and speed is not the priority in the GX, though it's got enough oomph to please its customers.” -- Autoblog
  • "It's not until you pin the throttle down on a freeway on-ramp that the limitations of the V8's power become obvious. There isn't much noise and the power delivery is smooth, but the shove in your back quickly turns into a gentle nudge as your pace increases." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Lexus GX handles fairly well for a truck-based SUV, but there’s a reason many automakers have been ditching traditional body-on-frame layouts in favor of crossovers. Traditional SUVs like the GX just can’t match the more composed, car-like handling found in unibody competitors like the Audi Q7 or the newly-redesigned 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

Reviewers say that the Lexus GX offers a smooth ride, but they don’t appreciate the body roll that occurs in turns. Braking performance is good, though a few test drivers noticed lots of nosedive during hard stops.

  • "The traditional truck-type construction results in handling with marked cornering lean. GX doesn't feel tippy, though. The steering is nicely weighted but lacks road feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The driving experience has hints of truck flavor, with some head toss and high-waisted body motion. A longer wheelbase might smooth out some of the hobby-horse motions, but the GX 460 isn't trying to be a crossover, and movements are controlled and the frame is strong and jiggle-free.” -- Autoblog
  • "The compromised nature of the suspension is most apparent under hard braking where the GX's nose tends to dive like a dolphin. It's nowhere near dangerous, but that dive indicates just how tough it is to get the balance between off-road excellence and on-road competence right." -- Popular Mechanics


The 2012 Lexus GX is one of the few luxury SUVs still on the market that offers true off-road capability. It comes standard with full-time four-wheel drive with a limited-slip center differential and an electronically-controlled transfer case with a low range for off-road driving. Optional features like crawl control and hill descent control take charge of the brakes and accelerator so that the driver can concentrate on steering.

  • "The chassis package works remarkably well off road. Huge disruptions are taken in stride and the suspension never crashes noisily into the bump stops. The GX is also compact enough to slip through tight confines without littering trails with sacrificial parts." -- Automobile Magazine

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