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A handful of vehicles boast incredible reliability, rigidity, long-life expectancy, and the ability to go anywhere.
Lexus and Toyota are the top two on the list.
Toyota became an instant hit with its 4Runner model and the unmatched off-road performance it provides. However, Lexus also offers a GX model with a top-tier interior and efficiency on rough terrains.
Some even argue that the Lexus is better than the 4Runner!
Like the GX, the 4Runner has been around for decades and witnessed mild and subtle changes. It became a favorite among off-road junkies thanks to its rugged looks and mesmerizing abilities. On the other hand, many dubbed the GX as a luxury version of the 4Runner.
It makes sense, to some extent, because both SUVs share the same body-on-frame platform and many components.
The Key Differences Between the Lexus GX vs 4Runner
- The GX is luxury-oriented, whereas the 4Runner is off-road focused.
- The GX is a seven-seater family SUV, whereas the 4Runner gets third-row seats as an option on certain trims.
- The GX comes with a big V-8, whereas the 4Runner is fitted with a V-6.
- The GX is offered with three trim levels, whereas the 4Runner has eight trim levels to choose from.
To decide which of these monsters is the best pick, I will compare them side by side based on a bunch of categories. It includes exterior design, interior layout, cargo space, performance, ride quality, and fuel consumption.
Lexus GX 460
In terms of exterior, Lexus sits on the other side of the scale. The new model gets a new revised luxury look. The 2022 GX 460 features a massive black spindle grille in the front. It sits perfectly between premium triple-beam LED headlights as standard with optional washers.
The headlights come with an automatic feature. In other words, the latter will dim to low beams when it senses vehicles coming on the opposite side of the road. The new model also receives LED daytime running lights and fog lights with the premium trim level.
I am not a fan of the massive grille up front, but it works well for such a tall SUV. In addition, the bumper has an integrated small black lip that adds a bit of sportiness.
The side profile of the GX 460 looks sleek and aesthetically pleasing. Take a step back, and you will notice the tall roof with colored roof rails. The latter comes as standard with every trim. In addition, all trims get rear privacy glass as standard with black window surrounds and a chrome beltline.
The GX gets body-colored side mirrors with an integrated LED turning signal. Another feature you will notice is the big side steps/ running boards. They are illuminated so the passengers can see them at night.
The last thing you want is splitting your shins on a running board. It hurts!
In terms of wheels, the GX comes with 18-inch alloy wheels rising to 19s with top-of-the-line trim. The new black line special edition comes with 19-inch six-spoke black alloy wheels. The wheel design is neat and fits well with the exterior of the SUV, but the size is a bit small considering the tall ride.
Moving to the back, you will see a rooftop spoiler with integrated brake light. Brake lights are LEDs, and the window wiper is hidden under the spoiler. It’s a neat trick to keep the back looking sleek.
The back glass pops up for easy and fast access and a single exhaust tip with either a black or chrome finish.
The latest 4Runner model receives a revised front end with new and aggressive LED headlights and fog lamps. The grille is chunkier and comes in different styles depending on the trim level. For instance, the limited trim gets a thick chrome bar running across the front end.
Off the bat, you will notice that the hood is long, broad, and sits high above the ground. On the TRD sports models, the hood is fitted with a scoop. Yet, the front bumper is stretched a bit lower to give the 4Runner its complete look.
Just like the GX, the headlights are automatic and will dim down to not blind other road users. Down the sides, the 4Runner continues with its massive boxy shape. It has black window surrounds with real black privacy glass.
The beltline is a bit higher coming from front to back, which gives away the vibes of a Range Rover. Running boards are optional and vary from one trim to another. For example, the running boards on the Limited trim are chrome.
The 4WD off-road models feature 17-inch wheels with chunky tires, while premium models like the Limited come with 20-inch wheels. Side mirrors are body-colored with LED turning signals.
On the back end, the LED rave ends with the brake lights. You will notice a shark fin antenna and spoiler with integrated brake light. The window wiper is hidden on top under the spoiler because the rear glass rolls like the side windows.
What I don’t like about the last feature is the button that opens the rear glass is located inside the cabin next to the gear selector.
Why not put it on the outside like the GX?
Furthermore, the exhaust tip is too far inside the bumper with no fancy cap like the Lexus GX.
Verdict: I will give the win to the 4 Runner purely because of its rugged and menacing look.
Here’s how the 4Runner compares to other 4×4’s:
- Toyota 4Runner vs Rav4
- Toyota 4Runner vs Landcruiser
- Toyota 4Runner vs Highlander
- Toyota 4Runner vs Tacoma
- Toyota 4Runner vs Sequoia
The Lexus GX 460 has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Not yet, at least! Which makes it hard to rate how safe the GX really is.
Nonetheless, Lexus did equip the latest model with a bundle of safety features and driver-assist systems. It includes emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning.
It also has four-wheel ABS and airbags from the front row to the back.
Toyota offers the 4Runner with their latest Safety Sense 2.0 system. It includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control with lane-keeping assist, and road sign assist.
Moreover, it has child safety door locks, airbags all-around, four-wheel ABS, and emergency braking assist. The 4Runner received a four out of five stars rating from the NHTSA.
Verdict: thanks to its durability and good crash test results, the 4Runner wins.
Powertrain and Performance
The GX still comes with our beloved and favorite powerplant, a big Ol’V-8. It is indeed big and old for a 2022 luxury SUV. The carryover engine is a 4.6-liter naturally aspirated V-8 that produces a mediocre 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque.
It may be the least vigorous V-8 being sold on the market today. It would be much better to have a turbocharged V-6 instead. Regardless, the V-8 can tow more than 6,000 pounds.
Back on track, the engine makes enough to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in under 8 seconds. The power goes to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System comes as standard for better traction and ride quality.
The GX is falling behind the competition with its outdated powertrain. However, it is surprisingly responsive, and the gear shift is smooth. Accordingly, the GX can feel sluggish on the road due to the tuning between the engine and transmission.
And since it’s a full-size SUV that ways over 5000 pounds, the braking process is underwhelming. In fact, the GX has the worst stopping distance in its class. It takes 133 feet to go from 60 miles per hour to a dead stop.
It compensates for that with a tight turning circle and light steering, which is acceptable for slow-speed maneuverability. The GX offers sublime off-road performance with its KDSS four-wheel-drive system and low-range transfer case. Furthermore, it is fitted with a locking center differential for better grip.
Lexus provides an off-road package for the GX that adds underbody protection, a camera system for accurate guidance on rough trails, and crawl control. The ground clearance is excellent for mild off-roading but not enough to clear extreme terrains. You might consider adding bigger tires and a lift kit to get the most out of it.
Despite the positive steering, the GX feels like it will tip over during corners due to the tall roof. But the ride is soft and smooth. The suspension softens the bumps well. Top trims have adjustable hydraulic sway bars to minimize body roll and premium air suspension.
Toyota offers its 4Runner models with an old 4.0-liter V-6 that puts out 270 horsepower and 278-pound feet of torque. With such a powerplant, it can barely clear the 60 MPH mark in under eight seconds.
The 4Runner is available with a five-speed automatic only. But you can choose between full-time or part-time four-wheel-drive. The transmission flows through the gears, but the response is almost dead. And the downshifts are unbearable.
It redeems itself with a composed ride on pavement. The soft suspension absorbs bumps well and glides over the road. It is worth noting that the brakes are a bit jittery, and the nose dives to the ground under heavy braking.
The steering is on the heavy side of the scale and kills any feeling of sportiness. However, it is useful in parking lots and during rock crawling. The 4Runner feels sturdy enough around corners. It may not be as nimble as a crossover SUV, but it handles the twisty roads well.
The 4Runner gets its moment in the sun off the road. The performance and capabilities are unmatched. All thanks to its four-wheel drive, high ground clearance, and locking differentials. It gets underbody protection, a crawl control system, a multi-terrain select system, and a low-range transfer case.
If you want an off-road monster, then the TRD 4Runner models are your best option.
Verdict: a tie. The GX has a more refined ride on paved roads, buts the 4Runner is a better off-roader.
This is a deal-breaker for a lot of buyers considering the current situation in regards to gas prices. And the GX is not going to have any mercy on your wallet. It averages about 15 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway (16 mpg combined). Moreover, it has a 23-gallon gas tank.
Considering the average MPG, a gas tank this big is bad news.
Usually, a V-6 is more economical and fuel-efficient. In the case of the 4Runner, it’s not. The 4.0-liter averages are 16 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway (17 combined). You may be able to get up to 22 miles per gallon with proper driving.
Verdict: 4Runner wins this round as well.
Trim Levels and Prices
Lexus offers the GX 460 model in four trim levels: Base, Premium, Luxury, and a new Black Line Special Edition.
As the name suggests, the Base trim is the entry-level model, and it is equipped with various amenities. It gets keyless entry and ignition, driver aids, a KDSS four-wheel-drive system, LED lights, and third-row seats. For a base model, it is very expensive. The price starts from $55,000.
The Premium trim starts at $56,000. It includes all the features of the Base trim and adds LED foglights and automatic wipers, in addition to other interior upgrades. The price can easily hit the $60,000 mark with the Black Line Special Edition.
The latter adds black wheels, dark chrome accents, newly styled bumpers, and a steering wheel with wood trimming.
The top trim is the Luxury with a $66,000 starting price. It builds over the Premium trim model and adds bigger wheels, surrounds view camera, and air suspension. There is an off-road package available as well. It contains a rock crawling control system and underbody protection.
Toyota offers the 4Runner with eight different trims levels. That means there is a 4Runner for every driver. The lineup includes SR5, Trail Special Edition, TRD Sport, SR5 Premium, TRD Off-road, TRD Off-road Premium, Limited, and TRD Pro.
It starts with SR5 for $39,000. It comes with LED headlights, underbody protection for off-roading, and 17-inch wheels. Cruise control and the Toyota Safety system are standard on all models.
The Trail Special Edition adds a Yakima roof rack, portable cooler, dark wheels, blacked-out exterior accents, and almost $3,000 more.
The TRD Sport gets a hood scoop, firmer suspension for better on-road handling, and TRD badging. This trim comes with a $42,000 tag. The SR5 Premium gets mostly interior upgrades with keyless entry and ignition.
The TRD Off-road and TRD Off-road premium are almost identical to the SR5 with exception of additional off-road settings, locking differential, and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. The price for these trims varies between $43,000 and $46,000.
The 4Runner Limited trim is like the Lexus Luxury trim, it is all about comfort. The Limited comes with the same suspension and four-wheel drive, but it is tuned to be cozier. The exterior is loaded with chrome, and the interior is top-tier. If luxury is what you want, then you’ll have to pay for the $49,000 package, but it would be worth it.
The most expensive 4Runner is the TRD Pro coming in at $54,000. This trim is built with extreme off-roading in mind. It features tuned suspension with FOX dampers, skid plates, all-terrain tires, and a roof rack.
Interior and Cargo Space
The GX’s interior was fully redesigned. It comes with leather upholstery and wood trims, a heated steering wheel, and a 10-inch touchscreen display. The latter has Appl CarPlay, Android Auto, sat-nav, and Amazon Alexa.
The upper trims come with optional captain chairs, a 17-speaker sound system, heated and ventilated seats, and tri-zone automatic climate control. However, you still get some cheap plastic here and there.
The front seats are roomy and comfortable, but the rear seats are a bit flat and tough for longer journeys. The third-row seats are made to torture adults, but kids will be fine.
Cargo space is decent but not class-leading. Behind third-row seats, you get 11.6 cubic feet of space, which increases to 46.7 when you fold them.
The interior of the 4Runner is out of date compared to the competition. Nonetheless, it is functional and practical. The interior features a simple layout with big knobs which you can operate with gloves on. The seats accommodate drivers of all sizes and they are comfy for longer journeys.
Third-row seats are optional for the SR5, SR5 Premium, and Limited, while the remaining trims get only five seats. It’s good news for some because third-row seats are cramped and made for kids.
Cargo capacity is 47.2 cubic feet behind the second-row seats. It goes up to an impressive 89.7 cubic feet behind the first-row seats.
Interior upgrades include a leather interior, a premium JBL sound system, ventilated seats, power windows, a sunroof, and an 8-inch touchscreen display. The latter has integrated sat-nav with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Verdict: if you are looking for a luxurious interior, the GX is the way to go. If you want practicality and more cargo space, the 4Runner will do the job.
The GX is meant to be a sophisticated and upmarket SUV that competes with high-end brands. But you get a little bang for your buck considering what the GX offers with such a high price tag.
As a result, you might want to check other competitors like the Dodge Durango, Volvo XC90, Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q7, and the Mercedes G-class.
On the other hand, the 4Runner is one of the very few SUVs that can provide immaculate off-road performance. Its competition includes the Land Rover Defender, Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Bronco, Subaru Outback, and the Jeep Wrangler.
Question: Does the Lexus GX have Good Value for Money?
Answer: The GX models hold their value very well simply because Lexus is a Toyota in a fancy suit. In other words, it boasts a high reputation for reliability which makes it a hot commodity. Regardless, it is very expensive considering the outdated style.
Question: Which 4Runner Should I Buy?
Answer: Purchasing a 4Runner depends and how you use it. If you want to play in the dirt and have a limited budget, the Trail Edition is a good place to start. If you want to use the SUV as a daily grocery-getter, the TRD Sport or the SR5 Premium would be a good choice.
Question: How Long Can a 4Runner Last?
Answer: Toyotas are famous for being durable and reliable. Some may claim that you can’t kill a Toyota. The 4Runner is expected to at least hit the 400k miles before requiring major repairs.
My Final Thoughts: Choose the Lexus GX
The final purchase depends on the buyer’s preference. Both vehicles are reliable and come loaded with amenities. They provide a comfortable ride and share legendary reliability.
If you are looking for a practical off-roader with various options, the 4Runner is the answer. It comes in different trims and is on an affordable budget.
If you have more money to splash and want a luxurious and dependable daily driver, the fully-loaded Lexus GX is what you need.
If I was making a purchase today, I would choose the Lexus GX and enjoy! With more interior space, a more luxurious feel, and all the bells and whistles that you can imagine, this is a great choice. If you could get the Black Line Special Edition, even better.