Expert Reviews

2024 Lexus GX First Drive Review and Video

Lexus sure knows how to squeeze every last ounce of life from its lineup of vehicles.

That includes its second largest sport utility, which has existed for more than two decades with few fundamental changes. That’s not necessarily a criticism – nor has it slowed sales, which have continued to grow – but the GX has certainly shown its age in recent years. But with the family-focused TX finding its place among the brand’s offerings, the redesigned 2024 Lexus GX leans more heavily into its rugged persona than ever before.

Seriously Bold Styling

The 2024 GX gets the sort of revolutionary redesign that’s entirely out of character for Lexus. Never before has one of the brand’s models looked so entirely different from one generation to the next, with absolutely nothing borrowed from the version that came before this. Even the signature spindle grille has been cut down in the same peculiar way it was on the exceptionally popular RX, although it manages to work well with the proportions of this larger SUV.

While the old fascia has long been cited as polarizing, the same can be said about the entire aesthetic this time around. There’s no question it looks macho and muscular, but its appeal probably isn’t as broad as it once was. Then again, that sort of universal allure now falls to the likes of the three-row TX that offers less brawn across its similarly sized body.

The new GX is slightly larger than its predecessor, although the combination of bulging body panels and almost pinched side glass makes it look slightly leaner this time around. There are some similarities to the equally capable Land Rover Defender as far as overall styling is concerned, but this Lexus is a bit bolder than its British counterpart.

Its cabin, however, is more classically premium, going without its counterpart’s exposed hardware and neoprene upholstery in favour of a look and feel that could be found in any other luxury SUV. That’s not necessarily a knock against the GX, although even its adventurous new Overtrail trims are largely unassuming inside. Plus there’s the lack of real leather in some of the more affordable trims that still start at more than $85,000 before tax that’s somewhat shocking.

Old Meets New

Make no mistake: this is very much a successor to the SUV that came before it – it’s just one that’s been thoroughly modernized. Familiar characteristics include a body-on-frame construction, full-time four-wheel drive, and a slick flip-up rear window that can be opened independently of the tailgate itself – handy for accessing cargo without having to open the whole hatch. (The tailgate now opens conventionally rather than in a swing-out style.)

Alas, V8 power is no longer part of the package; instead, a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder is the lone offering in this part of the world (other markets get a hybrid version, which happens to be the only powertrain offered in the redesigned Toyota Land Cruiser that’s dimensionally identical to the GX). Notably, the 3.4L is more potent than the engine it replaces, with 349 hp and a whopping 479 lb-ft of torque on tap compared to 301 hp and 329 lb-ft before.

The motor is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, as well as a full-time four-wheel drive system that can be toggled between high- and low-range gearing, while the standard limited-slip rear differential is swapped for a locking unit in both Overtrail trims. Combined with meaty all-terrain tires and a bunch of electronic trickery, this is one exceptionally capable sport utility that manages to feel about as luxurious as any other entry out there like it.

On the Road

With or without those extras, the 2024 Lexus GX drives just as a proper premium SUV should. Bearing in mind that it’s built on a frame like a pickup truck – and suffers somewhat dynamically as a result – there’s plenty of on-pavement composure here. Helping matters is the adaptive suspension that’s reserved for both available Overtrail packages, as well as the Executive upgrade that’s more ritzy than rugged.

Even so, the steering pulses over anything but the smoothest surfaces in a decidedly truck-like manner – and it only gets more exaggerated when the sport drive mode is selected via the console-mounted dial. There’s also the general tippiness when cornering that sort of explains the TX’s existence in the first place, with that similarly sized sport utility behaving in a more mild-mannered way through twists and turns in the road.

On the Trail

But then the GX’s entire reason for being is its ruggedness. There’s a sense here that this SUV is one that’s built for adventure, both literally and figuratively. It’s the reason the frame is still fully boxed, with the resulting robustness an uncommon characteristic amongst entries this size. Likewise, the pair of Overtrail trims on offer ratchets up the go-anywhere capabilities of the 2024 GX.

It starts with Toyo tires developed specifically for this Lexus, which also boost ground clearance to 225 mm (8.9 in). Both the Overtrail and Overtrail+ trims also come outfitted with extra skid plates underneath, plus that locking rear diff to go along with an adjustable crawl control system.

Unfortunately, this short test was limited to some obstacles that were tailor-made to the GX, including undulating ruts that showcased its suspension travel and chassis stiffness, but little else. Ultimately, it felt a bit like wearing a Canada Goose parka while walking the dog in barely-below-zero temperatures; sure, it did the job, but it was only scratching the surface of the inherent capabilities here.

Day to Day

This test didn’t include any towing, although Lexus promises the GX can pull anywhere from 3,629 kg (8,000 lb) to 4,111 kg (9,063 lb), depending on equipment. Better still, every trim comes with both a trailer hitch and a built-in trailer brake controller, the latter of which is a Lexus-first.

When it comes to creature comforts, every trim is equipped with heated and ventilated front seats, plus a heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats. There’s also a 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a full advanced safety suite including lane-keeping assistance.

Both Overtrail trims come with all kinds of off-road goodies, including an adaptive suspension and an electronic version of the brand’s kinetic suspension that now features the ability to disconnect the front sway bar in the same way as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. They also come in a five-passenger configuration, while the rest of the lineup features a third row of seats.

Pay to Play

The 2024 Lexus GX starts at $83,500 before freight and tax, while both the Premium and Overtrail packages add $9,000, and the Luxury and Overtrail+ upgrades make this a nearly $102,000 SUV before the government’s share. Finally, the Executive kit pushes the price to $105,850 before freight and tax. None of that means this is an inexpensive SUV by any measure, although it’s easy to spend even more on the Land Rover Defender.

Final Thoughts

The most jarring part of the redesign Lexus GX might not be its radical redesign – it might well be its drastic price increase. At $87,550 before freight and tax, the outgoing version’s priciest Executive trim is nearly $20,000 cheaper than its replacement. Yes, there are many more features for the money, but that’s not an insignificant sum. Neither is the $92,500 asking price Lexus has slapped on the Overtrail trim, nor is the $101,850 for the Overtrail+ that adds niceties like massaging front seats and more. (Then there’s the Executive version that’s almost $106,000.)

No matter the price predicament, this is a very capable SUV – although this test barely scratched the surface of what it can do – that happens to be as luxurious as its Land Rover counterpart. Rough, rugged, and refined, the 2024 Lexus GX delivers upscale accoutrements in a package that’s ready for adventure, and that isn’t a combination that’s easy to come across. While buyers brave enough to put their six-figure sport utilities in harm’s way are probably few and few between, those who do are looking at an entry that’s willing to stand tall for the next 20 years and then some.