The Lexus GX 460 is the closest thing you can buy in the U.S. to the fabled Prado Toyota Land Cruiser. The Prado is highly desirable to American car enthusiasts. Largely because we can’t have it. We almost get a Prado, except it’s more expensive, ugly, and posh. You can still buy it new today. Should you?
One reason it’s hard to justify a new Lexus GX 460 is its age. The GX predates liquid water on Mars. It’s so old, in fact, that scientists have resorted to radiocarbon dating to estimate when it first entered production. Fossilized specimens have been unearthed in what is now barren New Mexico desert. Most unbelievable of all is the fact that it still comes standard with a CD player.
What it doesn’t include as standard — or as any available option — is any semblance of fuel-saving technology. Apart from some diesel heavy-duty pickups, the GX 460 is quite possibly the most expensive new vehicle you can buy today that still uses a six-speed automatic transmission. Its 4.6-liter V8 consumes fuel like Aron Ralston must have consumed water after spending a week trapped in a ravine. And it makes less power than a V6 Camry.
Of course, the benefit to the GX’s prehistoric design is tremendous durability. The list of less reliable things than the GX includes the chance your neighbors will launch illegal fireworks tonight, the odds of encountering heavy traffic on the 405, and the daily rotation of the earth. It’s not uncommon for owners to get several hundred thousand miles out of the powertrain with no significant issues. Anything and everything that can go wrong with the truck is documented.
However, everything true of a brand-spanking-new GX is just as true of a used example. Except for the styling. In 2013, the GX received Lexus’s trademark spindle grille. This made the truck look as disgruntled as any similarly middle-aged human. But the drivetrain, the interior, and virtually all of the technology is the same today as it was back in 2010. To put that year into context, you likely didn’t have the Internet on your phone in 2010.
So, if you buy a brand-new GX, what benefit do you get over a used one?
Not a whole lot. A warranty, sure, but air conditioning in Siberia would be more useful. Furthermore, like most luxury cars, a new GX will depreciate quickly — up to a point. Unlike most luxury cars, it bottoms out relatively high and stays there seemingly in perpetuity. Land Cruisers historically have retained a relatively high resale value, which remains true even when they’re dressed up in a scary Halloween costume. The upshot is you can buy a used GX, drive it for a few years, and sell it for a relatively high percentage of its purchase price. And, because it’s a Lexus, you won’t spend a fortune in maintenance, since you’ll never have to fix anything.
And so the question remains: why would anyone buy a new Lexus GX? There is zero discernible benefit over a used example, and the RX is a far more attractive package to new Lexus customers anyway. If you’re buying a 2010 vehicle disguised as a 2020, you may as well save your money and just get the 2010. At least it’s better-looking.