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Lexus GX550 2024 review


Australians have much to look forward to with the arrival of the new Lexus GX. This Land Cruiser-derived luxury off-roader is solidly-built and seductively styled

Good points

  • Land Cruiser-derived toughness
  • Powerful twin-turbo V6
  • True off-road capability
  • Attractive styling
  • Plush materials
  • Quiet cabin

Needs work

  • Thirsty fuel consumption
  • …and the hybrid isn’t ready
  • 4WD-style handling
  • Tiny boot with third row up
  • Cabin lacks visual warmth
  • Limited supply in 2024

When it arrives in Australia in mid-2024, the new Lexus GX will occupy a clear gap in the market: a Land Cruiser-derived off-roader that amps up luxury appeal and performance in equal measure.

Based on the same ‘TNGA-F’ platform as the incoming 250 Series Toyota Land Cruiser Prado – as well as the 300 Series ‘Cruiser and Lexus LX – the GX is a true off-roader with serious capability, especially in Overtrail trim.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 front close

Unlike the monocoque Land Rover Defender and Range Rover Sport, which occupy a similar niche, the GX is old-school body-on-frame, which brings advantages and drawbacks – and the Lexus is built in Japan.

Americans have been able to buy the GX, a Lexus spin on a Prado shell, since 2002. Previous shapes had a 4.6-litre petrol V8 while the new car downsizes to a 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 making 260kW of power and 650Nm of torque.

The ‘J250’ GX is the first to be sold in Australia. Three grades will land locally: the base Luxury, set to kick off from around $110,000 before-road costs, as well as the Overtrail – a genuinely rugged variant with twin lockers – and a top-shelf Sports Luxury.

Lexus GX550 Premium (US) 2024 rear 3/4

It currently sounds like Lexus will not offer its usual ‘Enhancement Pack’ options on the lower GX grades to allow Luxury and Overtrail customers to add Mark Levinson premium audio and other lush features without spending up on the Sports Luxury.

We hope that decision is reversed, as lower-end Lexus grades with the Enhancement Pack ticked are usually a sweet spot. One reason the decision could stick is that supply will be limited to about 1250 units in 2024, limiting incentives to be generous on specification.

A hybrid version of the GX, which borrows the electrified turbo petrol four-cylinder engine from the RX500h crossover, is in final testing – engineers are honing its water-fording ability – and this could arrive in late 2024. Expect the hybrid to be locked in for Aussie consumption later.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 interior

Set against rivals like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Volkswagen Touareg or Volvo XC90, the GX packs genuine off-roading chops – it’ll go really far from the blacktop. But that strength has compromised sealed-road handling, which is comparatively ponderous.

Ice-cool kerb appeal gets things off to a positive start for the GX: few Lexus models appear this effortless in the styling department. Painted in one of the signature hues – Moon Desert beige or Terrane Khaki green – the Overtrail seduces, but even the base model is proportionate.

The familial relations with the new Prado are obvious when viewing the two 4WD models side-by-side but Lexus designers have penned surfaces that appear upmarket, led by a strong bonnet with prominent square bulges that hint at the position of the front tyres.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 driving front

It’s worth mentioning that the grille is, incredibly, not that big on this vehicle. Perhaps we have reached peak front fascia.

Inside, the GX represents a considerable departure from typical Lexus cabin design. You won’t find a skerrick of woodgrain here, though leathers – real or simulated – cover nearly every surface. The materials feel deep and expensive to the touch.

But do they look expensive? Arguably, the GX’s insides want for visual warmth. The quality is evident when you step up to the cab, but it’s dark and utilitarian-looking in here. That’ll suit many but those looking for richer leathers and wood inlays will need to step up to an LX.

Lexus GX550 Premium (US) 2024 first row

Speaking of LX, the size of the GX is so much more wieldy. At just under 5000mm in length, the GX will fit in more garages and get down more trails.

Still, two of the three GX variants include a reasonably well-packaged third row in which two adults can sit comfortably for a while, with air vents and USB ports included. But when the sixth and seventh seats are deployed boot space is virtually lost.

It’s important to note the Overtrail foregoes even the option of a third row. Lexus planners say this was a deliberate decision because overlanders want a bigger boot. That’s valid – but plenty of families will want the Overtrail’s cool look with additional cabin flexibility.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 interior second row

The second row isn’t as rosy. To save weight (and probably cost), it doesn’t slide; kneeroom and toe room are especially pinched for adults and most rivals are roomier here.

Up front, the driver and front passenger enjoy a well laid-out space with acceptable ergonomics. The front chairs offer extensive adjustment and two-way lumbar, plus heating and cooling on all grades – but they lack much by way of lateral bolstering.

For the bigger-framed this will suit, but the BMW X5’s inflatable side bolsters are a superior concept for accommodating people of various shapes. The GX, too, suffers from a narrow ‘knee box’; the long-legged will want to test drive this 4WD first to ensure comfort.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 interior touchscreen

The GX has physical controls inside for many key functions, including volume, temperature and control of the two-range transfer case – plus the shifter for the ten-speed automatic transmission is a good, old-fashioned, well-damped stick – no oddities here.

Despite the presence of a customisable 12-inch digital driver display and a big 14-inch touch slate, there’s a refreshing traditionalism to much of the GX, from its appearance, to its pragmatic cabin layout, to the way it drives.

Speaking of the dynamics, few drivers will be disappointed…as long as they remember that the GX is a four-wheel drive, not a car-based SUV. Compared to the latter, the Lexus exhibits more pitch and roll in acceleration, braking and cornering.

Lexus GX550 Premium (US) 2024 driving front 2

As in any Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol, the GX demands more patience when taking on a winding B-road, the kind of which you will probably encounter on family road trips.

While the steering itself is reasonably responsive and light, the body of the GX seems to follow a moment after you make an input through the tiller. That’s classic for any traditional body-on-frame 4WD.

Still, while this effect is excusable given the Land Cruiser-derived platform and expected durability of the GX, it ultimately means the Lexus handles in a ponderous manner compared to nearly any rival.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 driving hill

That includes the Land Rover Defender, which retains quite a high level of trail capability but now uses a modern monocoque chassis with surprisingly good cornering abilities.

Another byproduct of Lexus sticking to tradition for the GX is weight: we’re expecting 2500kg or thereabouts. It feels pretty heavy and the tested fuel economy in mixed driving of 12-13L/100km – even more in urban areas – bears this out.

It’s also the case that the GX’s petrol engine isn’t really aiming for efficiency: it’s targeted at delivering good power. Compared to a Prado it is night and day.

Lexus GX550 Premium (US) 2024 engine

The 260kW twin-turbo 3.4-litre V6 is raspy and bassy, pulling strongly from a stop or when overtaking. There is more than sufficient power on tap…but the circa-80L fuel tank is on the small side, delivering a realistic range of 500-700km.

When it arrives, expect the GX hybrid engine to reduce fuel consumption from 11-15L/100km to 9-12L/100km depending on the driving situation.

A diesel would be even more frugal again, but the 3.3-litre diesel V6 that remains available in the larger LX500d four-wheel drive is not expected to be made available in the GX.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 rear close

Still, we suspect that many Australian buyers will see the relatively thirsty V6 engine fitted to the GX as a positive trade-off when compared to the 150kW/500Nm Prado.

On the move, the GX cabin is quiet, making for a fairly relaxing drive. Ride quality is decent enough, except in the Overtrail – its knobbly all-terrain tyres induce noticeable pitter-patter from even smooth-looking roads.

Many will be drawn to the Overtrail for its appearance and additional off-road bona fides – it uniquely packages a locking rear differential and e-KDSS tech – but the base Luxury grade on 20-inch wheels delivers the best on-road experience.

Lexus GX550 Premium (US) 2024 front 3/4

It’s just a shame that the seemingly good-value Luxury can’t be optioned up. It’s seemingly pretty good value, but a GX550 Luxury with a hypothetical $10,000 Enhancement Package would probably be the GX sweet spot.

It is disappointing that genuine leather and Lexus’s world-class Mark Levinson stereo are exclusive features of the top-end Sports Luxury – a grade which doesn’t seem so crash hot once you dive into the detail.

The Sports Luxury might add the best headlights and a trick translucent/clear panoramic roof, but it also nabs 22-inch alloys that look too big and also decrease the standard GX towing capacity of 3500kg to just 3130kg.

Lexus GX550 Overtrail (US) 2024 badge

Hence our crusade to bring an Enhancement Package to the more practical and sharply-priced Luxury and Overtrail grades.

Final pricing is yet to be confirmed for Australia, as are servicing costs. The circa-$1000/year maintenance cost for the LX provides something of a guide, however. Warranty will be five years with unlimited kilometres.

It remains to be seen whether Lexus will add the GX to the brand’s top-tier ownership club. Normally reserved for flagship ‘L’ grade Lexus models, Encore Platinum grants access to other Lexus models on a short-term basis, plus valet parking vouchers and other benefits.

With just 1250 cars on their way to Australia this calendar year it seems likely that a waitlist will form for the Lexus GX – a four-wheel drive that creates a very easy upgrade pathway from a Toyota Prado Kakadu.

It’s an endearing vehicle that could perhaps benefit from some specification adjustments for Australia – but even as it sits, it is well worth considering in the luxury SUV space.

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