It's the end of summer, and that means another trip to take my daughter back to school. This time out, we made the college run in a 2013 Lexus GX 460. Overall, it provided a capable, if crowded, ride, but it was one that improved my impression of the luxury SUV on the road and at the pump.
First, let's get to the mileage.
The trip was broken into three legs: The leg from Chicago to Buffalo, N.Y. Then there were a few days of errand running in New York. And then finally there was the trip back from Syracuse, N.Y., to Chicago. Here's how the three legs broke down:
There were, of course, differences in the trips but the GX bested the EPA ratings in all of them, although only slightly.
On the first two legs, we had five adults and an SUV packed to the absolute gills with not only a dorm room's worth of stuff, but also luggage for the rest of us (it was a weeklong trip). On the way back, though, we were not as empty as you might think. My daughter had a fair amount of stuff that needed to come home with us from Syracuse, so we never were able to have anyone sit in the powered third row. The powered seats are pretty cool to see in action, but I've no idea how comfortable they are or aren't.
Even so, I was impressed with the drivability of the GX. The last time I drove one was in support of a PickupTrucks.com comparison, and that GX's nose flew up when accelerating, and dropped low when braking hard. This GX had none of those issues, but it also didn't have a lot of journalists' miles on it, as my previous one did. Those miles are worse than rental miles, let me tell you.
The ride was soft and comfortable, but with a fair amount of body roll, which one would expect from a body-on-frame construction. We had three adults in the second row, and that turned out to be far more comfortable than I thought it would be. I had expected plenty of howls about how cramped they were, but there were none. And driving home with only four adults was far easier.
Some other notes about the drive:
Most expensive gas seen (unleaded): $3.81 a gallon in Amherst, N.Y., outside Buffalo.
Least expensive: $3.37 a gallon in Erie, Pa.
Even with a system that has physical controls, the Lexus multimedia system suffers from lags when trying to input destinations, change the fan setting (really?) or change the zoom on the nav.
The power/volume control for the stereo sits too low. My knee ran into it a couple of times while I was driving. It really needs to be higher.
At slow speeds, such as in stop-and-go traffic, the transmission seems to have a hard time finding the gear it really wants. It was all over the place.