By Sue Mead
It’s a luxury off-roader that is now an off-roader with luxury. So says Lexus. I agree. The 2024 Lexus GX 550 (previously GX 460) is decidedly different and significantly upgraded, as well as long-awaited, as the previous generation model was last redesigned more than 14 years ago.
2024 Lexus GX 550
The new GX is a game changer for the Lexus brand, and sits in the mid-sized segment that commands top sales in the luxury market. The bolder-looking sport utility vehicle is based on the global Toyota Land Cruiser (Prado in some other parts of the world) and slots between the Lexus brand’s smaller RX (2 seating rows), which appeals largely to empty nesters, and the new, larger TX (3 seating rows), which appeals to larger families.
The 2024 GX has been redesigned from the ground up. And, since it was revealed, enjoyed great popularity via a Lexus video series that highlights the new model and its assembly at Toyota’s Tahara Plant in Japan. The video has racked up 1.1 million views, and attracted 33,000 U.S.-market “hand raisers,” which represents the entire first-year allotment for the States. Lexus marketers say they will try to garner additional volume for U.S. buyers, who purchased 32,000 of the previous-generation GX last year.
I drove two versions of the new GX 550 on an introductory ride-and-drive event in Tucson, Arizona. All GX variants have full-time 4WD with Lexus’s “Multiselect” drive-mode system, and a locking center differential. The new GX is offered in six trim levels: Premium, Premium+, Luxury, Luxury+, and newly-added Overtrail and Overtrail+ variants. The Overtrails are engineered and designed as tougher, more capable off-road-oriented models. Both Overtrail models comes with standard 33-inch all-terrain tires and 18-inch wheels. Lexus expects that 30 percent of buyers will choose one of the Overtrail models.
The new GX will go on sale in the second quarter of this year. Lexus announced that a hybrid powertrain will be made available at some point in the future.
Until then, all models are powered by a 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that produces 349 horsepower, and 479 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. Towing capacity is impressive at nearly 9100 pounds, depending on trim level. Less impressive is the EPA fuel-economy estimates of 15 mpg city, 17 highway, and 21 combined.
The new model comes in seven available colors with four “bi-tone” schemes and three interior-color options. Standard are wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a digital 12-inch Multi-Information Display (MID). Also available are a number of dealer-installed accessories for fun customization.
Lexus says the new model’s “key points” are passion and craftsmanship, with a mission of comfort and visibility as the top design goals. From the outside, it’s clear that visibility for the driver was one of the motivations, as the windscreen is wide, the A-pillars have been pushed back (forward), and there is a lower belt line, allowing better visage to the side.
The hood-line has been lowered too, with a small divot in the middle to allow a clearer view of the road. Engineers lifted the height of the headlights, so you’re less likely to scratch them when ambling over back country trails. Raised lights (both front and rear) will aid with visibility when caravanning with others, too.
Notable is the more aggressive, edgy styling–a departure from the rounded edges of the previous model–along with bold wheel arches, and a new front bumper that can easily be replaced should an incident merit such an action.
Taller roof rails, a black-painted top, and a panoramic roof are also new, as are standard running boards that are power-actuated on up-level trims.
The new GX is little bigger than the outgoing model. Overall it’s 3.7 inches wider (Overtrail 4.5) 2.8 inches longer, and rides on 2.4-inch longer wheelbase.
The second row is available with captain’s chairs or a 60/40 split-folding bench depending on trim level.
A simple “one-motion” tumble system makes easy work of clearing the 2-nd-row seats for access to the 3rd-row. Heated and ventilated seats are standard up front, and available for the outboard 2nd-row seats. The 3rd row is available in both power and manual seat configurations.
The GX boasts six illuminated charging ports (four in Overtrail/Overtrail+) and a wireless charger is available in the front console tray. The 2024 GX boasts increased space in the center console and door pockets. Two additional storage spaces have been added under the cargo area to accommodate smaller items, and a 120-volt AC inverter has been added for additional power needs. Plus, the GX comes with up to 12 cup holders.
New is a double-wishbone front suspension paired with a multi-link rear suspension to add prowess for both on-road and off-road driving. An available Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) adjusts damping forces based on changing road conditions. GX also has a new Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system that brings increased steering feel both on and off-road.
Lexus has made switching between high range (H4) and low range (L4) 4WD modes faster versus the previous generation. L4 has four modes: Auto, Sand, Mud, and Rock, while H4 has five modes: Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, and Deep Snow. When Multi-Terrain Select is on, the Multi-Terrain Monitor engages to assist with increased visibility—via the console screen–under and around the vehicle. Views include underfloor, side, front and rear underfloor, along with blind-spot monitoring.
First, I drove the base Premium model that stickers starting at $65,250.
Notable was the upscale interior, comfortable seating for up to seven, and the quiet ride. I found easy ingress and egress and appreciated the large touchscreen. The twin-turbocharged V6 moves the GX well. Versus the previous-generation GX, the new truck enjoys improved braking response and more precise electronic power steering.
Although I didn’t need to use it, I appreciated the locking center differential, which enables a 50/50 front/rear torque split for improved traction in snow and on other traction-compromised surfaces.
I also drove the Overtrail+, which starts at $75,900, and with some extras stickered for $80,915. My time in the Overtrail+ included motoring on a road course, as well as on an off-road trail with a few ruts that had been crafted to demonstrate the GX’s rock-crawling credentials.
There are many design features which bolster the Overtrail’s off-road credibility, including 8.9 inches of ground clearance, impressive approach and departure angles, and vertically situated exterior mirrors designed to be less likely to catch on tree branches.
- The Overtrail and Overtrail+ have 10-way powered, heated, and ventilated front seats (the rear seats are also heated).
- Overtrail models also include blacked-out brightwork, black mirrors and door handles, and attractive black trim over the fenders.
- The Overtrail and Overtrail+ use a standard Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (E-KDSS) that provides a high level of balance between off-road drivability and on-road handling stability. It locks and unlocks the front and rear stabilizer bars to assist with motoring control and enhanced wheel articulation.
- The 2024 GX shares its corporate TNGA-F platform with the current-generation Lexus LX 600. This strong and lightweight ladder frame architecture increases body rigidity and improves on-road handling. This platform is optimally engineered to withstand twisting off-road forces, maximize suspension performance, enable wheel articulation and consistent tire contact, and maintain in-cabin stability.
- A 10-speaker premium sound system is standard on lower GX trim levels, with an available 21-Speaker Mark Levinson installation that comes standard on Overtrail models.
2024 Lexus GX 550 Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)