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2024 Lexus GX550 First Drive: Breaking the Mold

2024 Lexus GX550
Photo: D.Heyman
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Dan Heyman
This is a really, really capable off-roader; is that what its buyers want though?
First test of the 2024 Lexus GX
Photo: D.Heyman

•    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2024 Lexus GX.

Tucson, AZ - The Lexus GX has had a very interesting existence. It started out as a mid-size body-on-frame Lexus SUV, toiling in a segment that Toyota’s luxury division didn’t have a foothold in at the time. It shared many of its underpinnings with the ultra-capable Land Cruiser Prado, but it has morphed into a model that Lexus as well as off-roading and overlanding fans have adopted. Folks loved the durability of the engines – especially the V8 option – as well as just how amenable it was to overlanding conversions both inside and out. Add a great 4WD system, and Bob’s your uncle. 

For 2024, the GX is all-new and lo and behold, Lexus dove deep into the off-road lifestyle world with this one, going so far as to release a trim made specifically for the overlanding task. As we’ll soon see, that variant’s been given a name to suit that vibe. 

 
The all-new 2024 Lexus GX550
The all-new 2024 Lexus GX550
Photo: D.Heyman

Trims and pricing of the 2024 Lexus GX in Canada:

  • - GX Signature - $83,000
  • - GX Premium - $92,500
  • - GX Overtrail - $92,500
  • - GX Luxury - $101,850
  • - GX Overtrail + - $101,850
  • - GX Executive - $105,850

Design of the 2024 Lexus GX550 – 9/10

To further prove this Lexus is not the typical luxury-cruiser the brand has become famous for, designers aimed to carve out an entirely new identity for the GX. That means blocky styling with squared-off wheel arches, upright windshield and blunt nose. The hourglass shape of the grille remains, but the controversial spindle grille is gone. 

2024 Lexus GX550, profile
2024 Lexus GX550, profile
Photo: D.Heyman

Of course, this kind of design language is not altogether unique these days – see the Ford Bronco and Land Rover Defender – but Lexus has gone the extra mile by really exaggerating the size of the bumpers, the flares around the wheel arches, the height of the greenhouse and even the hood, which gets matching swells above each wheel to help better pace the GX when off-roading. 

Things get even wilder with the Overtrail, which adds smaller 18-inch wheel but big off-road and winter-ready rubber, plastic fender extensions and larger roof rails that can accommodate a tend and make tying items down that much easier. I love this thing and the only reason it misses a 10/10 rating is the unsightly rear bumper bulge around the trailer hitch which Lexus says will get changed as we move closer to production.

Interior of 2024 Lexus GX550
Interior of 2024 Lexus GX550
Photo: D.Heyman

Interior of the 2024 Lexus GX550 – 8/10

If you guess that high roof means plenty of headroom, you guess right. There’s plenty of it in all rows and like the exterior, the interior is a cornucopia of straight edges so there’s plenty of room for wandering knees and elbows. 

Note that all GX models except the Overtrail come standard with three rows of seating and seating for 6 or 7. The Overtrail only gets two rows in order to deliver more rear cargo space for the gear you’ll need to overland.

Front row of 2024 Lexus GX550
Front row of 2024 Lexus GX550
Photo: D.Heyman

Beyond that, you have top-grade materials including either real leather or NuLuxe synthetic. The sound deadening has been improved overall, though higher spec models get active noise cancellation which makes it even quieter inside. We sampled trucks with and without active noise cancellation and both were so pleasantly low on noise that I wonder how valuable the active system is. 

On top of that, all the controls are perfectly laid out, making the various on-board systems easy to control and access, even when driving. 

As mentioned, cargo space is plentiful in the GX – up to 2,178 litres, depending on spec – but more than that, it’s easy of access. You can either open the whole tailgate, by “kicking” below the bumper – or just the glass portion if you have a tall load. 

It’s not all roses. I would have likes a little more legroom in the second row, and you can’t slide the seat fore and aft. Lexus says this was to reduce weight and cost, but when you consider that you can’t get one of these new GXes in Canada for less than 80 grand, that’s a bit of a tough story to swallow. I also found the glovebox to be a little shallow. I also wish the door close was a little less tinny, though that comes from an effort to reduce weight and improve efficiency, requiring lighter materials. I do like the aluminum hood, though, as it’s easier to open and safer in the event of a collision.

Multimedia screen of 2024 Lexus GX550
Multimedia screen of 2024 Lexus GX550
Photo: D.Heyman

Technology in the 2024 Lexus GX550 – 8/10

The dash is dominated by the standard 14-inch infotainment display that mixes the old with the new by providing a pair of traditional knobs for your climate controls, but embedding them within the display and digitizing their hubs as well. In the Overtrail models, the screen can display various off-roading aids such as a front wheel position indicator.  

Both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard and there’s also a “Hey, Lexus” voice command system that can do everything from adjust cabin temperature to guide you to the nearest sushi joint.

A 10-speaker Panasonic audio system comes standard but the real gem is a 21-speaker Mark Levinson system that sounds as crisp as a nice pair of headphones. For years, Lexus has proven that they “know” audio and that trend continues here. Other neat tech adds include available digital rear-view mirror, available 10-inch HUD and an electro-chromatic panoramic roof that can go from clear to opaque with the press of a button. 

2024 Lexus GX550, off-road
2024 Lexus GX550, off-road
Photo: D.Heyman

Driving the 2024 Lexus GX550 – 7/10

Power comes from a single engine choice – a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 good for 349 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s more than what was made by the GX460’s V8 and it all gets sent to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission with standard paddle shifters. Even though it’s down two cylinders and reached peak hp at higher revs than the GX460 did, it gets a much flatter torque curve and is able to two up to 9,000 lb depending on spec.

While I wouldn’t say the throttle response – even in Sport mode – is sports car-like, that torque curve means passing at speed is no problem and the 10-speed transmission means there’s power available in any gear. 

2024 Lexus GX550, very much off-road
2024 Lexus GX550, very much off-road
Photo: D.Heyman

Now, about the GX’s off-road chops. During our test, we climbed steep grades coated in loose gravel and traversed mogul-like sand-covered humps that had us lifting wheels clear off the surface below. We also navigated a dirt embankment that would make the Daytona oval blush. The GX never missed a beat. No wheel spin, hardly any bottoming out and in some cases, making use of the 4LO transfer case setting and crawl control to navigate all this without ever brushing the brake or gas pedals.

Added to which, the Overtrail gets what Lexus calls a electronic kinetic dynamic suspension system (KDSS), a closed-loop hydraulic system with front anti-roll bar disconnect that improves wheel articulation by three inches and can adjust the dampers over 2,000 times per second depending on surface. There’s also a multi-terrain select system that lets you choose between four AWD modes for the best possible performance no matter the situation.

It’s gobsmacking how good this thing is when off-roading, to the point where the likes of the Jeep Wrangler or aforementioned Bronco come to mind. Bravo on this one, Lexus.

Some of your questions about the 2024 Lexus GX550

Will the GX continue to share underpinnings with a Land Cruiser?
Actually, yes because for the first time, North America getting the smaller “Prado” version of the Land Cruiser later this year. Simply called “Land Cruiser”, it will get a 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain as standard (which will likely be making its way to the GX as well – eventually) and will be available only as a two-row SUV.

Do all GX models come with a panoramic roof?
Actually, no. The Overtrail models get a traditional sunroof over just the front row and if you so choose, you can get an Overtrail with a solid roof if you plan on installing a large roof rack or tent.

 
Glimpse of 2024 Lexus GX550 from rear
Glimpse of 2024 Lexus GX550 from rear
Photo: D.Heyman

The final word
Here’s the thing. Is the ability to go vehicular bouldering really what you want from your Lexus product? If you’re looking for the luxury sedan-like ride of an RX but with three proper rows, then perhaps the GX’s TX sibling is the better choice. 

But if you’re looking for a very capable off-roader with luxurious undertones – not to mention one that looks so unique – then the GX could very well be a winner for you.

Now, about that roof tent…

 

Strong points

  • Very à la mode in terms of styling
  • Incredible off-road prowess
  • Good interior tech

Weak points

  • No sliding second row
  • Single powertrain choice
  • Can get pricey
Front of 2024 Lexus GX550
Front of 2024 Lexus GX550
Photo: D.Heyman

Competitors of the 2024 Lexus GX550

  • - Audi Q7
  • - BMW X5
  • - Infiniti QX80
  • - Land Rover Defender 120
  • - Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  • - Lincoln Navigator
  • - Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
 
2024 Lexus GX550, three-quarters rear
2024 Lexus GX550, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Heyman
Dan Heyman
Dan Heyman
Automotive expert
  • Over 12 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 70 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 150 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists