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Lexus GX firms for Australian release, luxury Prado model could have V6 hybrid


Lack of right-hand drive production for the new Lexus TX model sent the brand on a search for a seven-seat family SUV alternative – and the GX could be it

With a decision set to be announced shortly that the forthcoming Lexus TX large SUV will be offered in left-hand drive formats only, Lexus Australia is looking further afield in order to obtain a new seven-seat SUV model to release locally in 2023 or 2024.

Instead of the American-made TX, Lexus is likely to turn to the brand’s new third-generation GX model that is expected to be revealed in the coming months. The GX, a luxurious version of the Toyota Prado, has been offered in America for two generations but has never before been sold in Australia.

Quick summary of this story

  • The Lexus GX is a luxurious version of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado sold overseas
  • A new-generation GX will be revealed soon for a 2024 release date
  • Would give Lexus Australia a new seven-seat SUV model
  • Right-hand drive likely, V6 hybrid engine a possibility
Lexus GX 2022 rear end
The outgoing Lexus GX bears obvious similarities to the underlying Toyota Prado model

The new GX is again set to be a more refined spin-off of the next Prado. It is firming as one of the three new models in three new segments that Lexus Australia will release locally within the next 18 months or so – a rapid product offensive announced last week.

New Lexus RX is five-seat only, leaving a gap in the range

The global decision to build the new Lexus RX large SUV in five-seat configuration only has left Lexus with just one three-row vehicle in Australia – the vast, and more expensive, LX four-wheel drive that starts at $147,991 (before on-road costs).

As a result, Lexus has been left without an obvious larger family car to compete with rival models like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. Referring buyers to the dearer LX is no easy solution because of extended wait times on that vehicle.

Lexus RX 2023 bronze front 3/4
The new Lexus RX model is a five-seater only, leaving Lexus with a seven-seater requirement

Speaking with Chasing Cars, Lexus Australia chief executive John Pappas acknowledged the gap and said the brand was examining options – including the GX – with which to fill it.

“We’re mindful that the RX is configured as a five-seat [SUV], because we’re lookikng for that sportier, more dynamic performance on that vehicle,” he said.

“We’re not forgetting about seven-seat alternatives. We are continuously reviewing and looking at those alternatives, and if we can get them in [to Australia] because they are suitable for us, we will.”

Lexus filed this patent for a model called the TX in America, but it is likely to be built only in left-hand drive

The American division of Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand, will soon reveal an all-new model called the TX – a crossover that will share its platform and engines with the new RX that launches in Australia this week.

The TX will be built in Indiana alongside a new Toyota Grand Highlander SUV. Made in America for America, the TX was never likely to be built in right-hand drive (RHD) and representations from Lexus Australia to secure a RHD version of the vehicle are not understood to have succeeded.

“It’s not the TX,” Pappas confirmed to Chasing Cars – meaning, the TX is not the seven-seat alternative to the RX that may come to Australia.

Lexus GX 2022 rugged concept
The next GX (and Prado) are expected to be built in Japan, and available in right-hand drive

However, it is widely expected that the next-generation GX will continue to be built in Japan – as is the current GX and well as the very familiar 150-series Toyota Land Cruiser Prado that it is based on.

The Prado has always been offered in right-hand drive, and the task of offering the Prado-based GX in RHD form could be simpler than building a case for manufacturing the American-built TX model in RHD in such low volumes for a small market like Australia.

Speaking with another Australian outlet, Pappas said that if the new GX was built in RHD and available to the brand locally, it “would be something we would look to bring in.”

GX is one size smaller than LX, but it’s still a capable 4WD vehicle

While the LX is a long-running and important flagship model for Lexus, it is based on the full-size Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series, making it less-than-wieldy for inner-city families. The smaller GX, being based on the more compact Prado, could bring new buyers to the brand.

When announcing that the brand would reveal and release a trio of all-new models in the next 18 months or so, Lexus Australia chief Pappas told media that breaking into new segments with untapped buying groups was a key goal.

Lexus GX 2022 interior
The interior of the outgoing GX is dated, but this will be fundamentally upgraded in the new version

“We will reveal three fantastic new models in three new segments, and they will expand our appeal to new types of customers as they land here over the next 18 months or so,” he said.

Size-wise, the outgoing J150-series GX is a large SUV but it is on the more compact end of the scale. It measures 4880mm in length, compared to the larger 5085mm-long, full-size LX model. By comparison, a Volvo XC90 is 4950mm long.

Unlike the XC90, Audi Q7 or BMW X5, though, the Lexus GX is a true four-wheel drive with traditional body-on-frame construction – a trait expected to be retained in next-generation form.

Lexus GX 2022 front end
The GX is about 12cm shorter than the full-size Lexus LX model, making it more wieldy

That’s because the GX is likely to retain its parts-sharing relationship to the Toyota Prado that will also continue in Australia, where it is one of the most successful large SUV nameplates on the market with more than 10,000 annual sales.

Next-generation Lexus GX is likely to get hybrid engine

While the outgoing Toyota Prado relies on a modest 2.8-litre diesel four-cylinder engine, the American-market Lexus GX version uses a mighty 4.6-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol V8 engine that slots straight into the J150 Prado’s engine bay.

Australia never scored a V8 Prado, though a 4.0-litre petrol V6 engine was offered locally for many years.

Still, the next-generation Lexus GX is likely to ditch V8 power for a much more frugal hybrid powertrain. Hybrid engines are also being planned for the Toyota Prado version, but there could be a split between the Toyota and Lexus implementation.

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2024 render - Quto.ru
The next Prado is likely to feature hybrid powertrains. Render: Quto.ru

Chasing Cars understands that Toyota is exploring various avenues for the new Prado hybrid, including an electric-hybrid version of the current diesel four-cylinder engine, plus two petrol hybrids – a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo hybrid shared with the Lexus RX500h, or a larger 3.4-litre V6 turbo hybrid sourced from the US-market Toyota Tundra ute.

Even if the Prado went for a diesel-hybrid engine it is possible that the Lexus GX could make use of the brand’s new turbo-petrol hybrid that makes 273kW of power in the new RX500h model in combination with a six-speed torque converter automatic and electrified front and rear axles.

What would the price of a Lexus GX be in Australia?

For a model that has not been revealed yet, nor confirmed to be coming to Australia, we can only speculate on possible price points.

However, we know that the next-generation GX would slot between the newly-launched RX large SUV and the heavy-duty LX four-wheel drive in the brand’s range.

Presently, the RX spans a price range between $87,500 and $126,000 before on-road costs, while the LX spans $147,991 to $209,991 – leaving clean space for a three-row model to be priced from approximately $100,000 to $140,000.

Audi SQ7 2022 rear 3/4
The new GX would target luxury SUVs like the Audi Q7, but it would be more capable off-road

Given the popularity of large SUVs in the Australian market, it’s possible that various engines and trim grades would be available to GX buyers, possibly with an entry-level non-hybrid version allowing Lexus Australia to create a price-leading spec.

This could align with the entry-grade Audi Q7 45 TDI ($110,000) and Volvo XC90 Ultimate B6 ($105,990).