2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Lexus GX460

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Explorer and GX460 have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The GX460’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The GX460 doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The GX460 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the Explorer uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The GX460 uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the Explorer and the GX460 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

There are almost 13 times as many Ford dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The GX460 doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Lexus vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lexus is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Explorer’s optional 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 17 more horsepower (318 vs. 301) than the GX460’s 4.6 DOHC V8. The Explorer Platinum’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 64 more horsepower (365 vs. 301) and 51 lbs.-ft. more torque (380 vs. 329) than the GX460’s 4.6 DOHC V8. The Explorer ST’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 99 more horsepower (400 vs. 301) and 86 lbs.-ft. more torque (415 vs. 329) than the GX460’s 4.6 DOHC V8.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the GX460:

MPG

Explorer

RWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

ST 3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

GX460

AWD

4.6 DOHC V8

15 city/18 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The GX460 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Explorer’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The GX460 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The GX460 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the GX460.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Explorer’s brake rotors are larger than those on the GX460:

Explorer

Explorer ST

Explorer ST opt.

GX460

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

14.3 inches

13.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

12.3 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GX460 (275/45R21 vs. 265/60R18).

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the GX460’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer ST/Platinum offers optional 21-inch wheels. The GX460’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The GX460 doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Ford Explorer has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Lexus GX460 has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The GX460 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 9.3 inches longer than on the GX460 (119.1 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 4.5 inches wider in the front and 4.5 inches wider in the rear than on the GX460.

For better maneuverability, the Explorer’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the GX460’s (39.2 feet vs. 41.1 feet).

Chassis

The Ford Explorer may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 800 pounds less than the Lexus GX460.

Unibody construction lowers the Explorer’s center of gravity significantly without reducing ground clearance. This contributes to better on the road handling and better off-road performance and stability. In addition, unibody construction makes the chassis stiffer, improving handling and reducing squeaks and rattles. The GX460 uses body-on-frame design instead.

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The GX460 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Explorer Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The GX460 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has 23 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GX460 (152.7 vs. 129.7).

The Explorer has 2.7 inches more front headroom, 1.3 inches more front legroom, 2.7 inches more front hip room, 6.4 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom, 4.9 inches more rear legroom, 3.9 inches more rear hip room, 4.6 inches more rear shoulder room, 3.7 inches more third row headroom, 2.9 inches more third row legroom and .1 inches more third row shoulder room than the GX460.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the GX460.

Explorer

GX460

Behind Third Seat

18.2 cubic feet

11.6 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

46.7 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

64.7 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Explorer easier. The Explorer’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 31.1 inches, while the GX460’s liftover is 33.8 inches.

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the GX460’s in almost every dimension:

Explorer

GX460

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

9.8”/39”/75”

Max Width

59”

54.6”

Min Width

48.1”

43.4”

Height

33.7”

35.5”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Explorer’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The GX460 doesn’t offer automatic folding second row seats.

The Explorer’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The GX460’s swing out door blocks loading from the passenger’s side.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Explorer has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or on the Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The GX460 doesn’t offer a power cargo door.

Ergonomics

The Explorer’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The GX460’s parking brake has to released manually.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The GX460 doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The GX460’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Explorer’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The GX460’s power mirror controls are on the dash where they are possibly hidden by the steering wheel and are awkward to manipulate.

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s Active Park Assist 2.0 can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The GX460 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Explorer is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GX460 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Lexus GX460 by almost 10 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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