Lexus is going all in on Australia, rolling out what feels like an endless stream of new models to cater for every segment.
Not only is it bringing new people into the brand, it’s also slowly reducing the brand’s average owner age as younger people are targeted with small, family-friendly SUVs.
The latest cab off the rank is the all-new 2024 Lexus GX, which shares a platform with the larger Lexus LX, Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series and the upcoming Toyota LandCruiser Prado – but offers a decidedly Lexus take.
Pricing for the Lexus GX is yet to be announced for the Australian market.
As we’ve previously reported, pricing is expected to kick off from around $110,000 before on-road costs for the entry-level Luxury variant.
The interior of the GX is different to any other Lexus we’ve seen before – and that’s not a bad thing.
Instead of going to town with woodgrain and the types of things you’d find in Lexuses of yesteryear, Lexus has gone down the utilitarian path – straight lines, soft-touch plastics and a utilitarian vibe is the order of events inside the cabin.
But you will still find a number of luxuries. The top-spec Sports Luxury version we tested included an electrically charged roof that can seamlessly move between opaque and transparent almost instantly at the push of a button. Likewise a set of side steps fold out from the bottom of the door to make entry and exit easier.
Then of course there’s things like a fridge, heated and cooled seats and a litany of four-wheel drive controls that I’ll run you through shortly.
The GX will also be included in the Lexus Encore program (although the program level is yet to be confirmed) with benefits that stretch beyond just ownership of the vehicle.
Central to the cabin is a 14-inch infotainment system – it includes wireless smartphone mirroring, along with AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio. Depending on specification, buyers can opt for a 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, with standard audio coming in the form of a 10-speaker Panasonic sound system lower down in the range.
There’s even the option of a noise cancellation system that uses three microphones mounted within the cabin and plays audio that cancels out unwanted frequencies via a separate amplifier. Things like road noise and engine noise can be subdued with the system active.
Ahead of the driver is a customisable display that doubles as a four-wheel drive information screen while you’re off-roading. Finally there’s a large 10-inch head-up display for additional trip, speed and navigation information.
Let’s talk about space. The front row is spacious – stacks of room to stretch out with very comfy seats. There are a number of colour options available to choose from too, making the interior quite customisable.
Second row space is good too for adults. Knee and toe room is good, likewise head room. You’ll find creature comforts like USB-C connectivity and heated seats for the outboard positions, along with privacy blinds and privacy glass.
Depending on the specification, the vehicle can be configured from the factory as a five-, six- or seven-seat vehicle. The six-seater offers a removable centre cup holder section to allow easy pass through to the third row.
The third row on the other hand isn’t as good. And this seems to be a common trait of vehicles on the TNGA-F platform – we’ve observed the same issue with the LX and 300 Series – where it’s quite cramped back there.
Getting in is difficult for adults, as is finding a comfortable position. The second row only folds and tumbles and doesn’t slide on rails to allow additional space, which ultimately compromises the usability of the third row for adults.
Kids on the other hand won’t have any issues, and to be frank, kids are the ones most likely to be using the third row. Back there you’ll find USB connectivity along with cup holders and air vents.
The boot has a clever twin-opening arrangement. The glass door section opens, along with the full cargo door. Under the cargo floor you’ll find additional storage with a full-sized spare located under the rear of the vehicle.
In the boot you’ll also find a 400W power outlet for powering auxiliary devices.
All Lexus GX 550 variants are powered by the same 3.4-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine, which produces a claimed 260kW of power and 650Nm of torque – representing increases of 110kW and 150Nm over the upcoming Prado’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with 48V mild-hybrid assistance.
Drive is sent to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission, which features low-range gearing and a locking centre Torsen differential. Overtrail variants also pick up a rear differential lock.
While the Lexus GX 550 Luxury and Overtrail boast a 3500kg braked towing capacity, the Sports Luxury has a reduced capacity of 3130kg. It’s a bit confusing because the same vehicles feature a 4000kg braked and 3500kg braked towing capacity for the North American market.
It’s worth noting that all GX variants, regardless of spec, come with an integrated tow receiver and brake controller, which is located just underneath the steering wheel. It means you don’t need to spend money on a costly brake controller if you decide you want to tow down the track.
While the engine is the same capacity and features most of the same components as the larger Lexus LX, it has been detuned to differentiate itself from its larger sibling.
Fuel consumption figures are yet to be confirmed for any market, but we expect the GX to be fairly thirsty given it’s a non-hybridised twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine. Using the LX as a guide, we expect fuel economy to sit somewhere between 11-12 litres of fuel per 100km.
Before we run through how the GX drives, it’s worth mentioning what lives beneath the skin.
The GX sits on a ladder-frame chassis. Up front it uses independent suspension with double wishbones, while the rear differs from rivals like the Land Rover Defender by utilising a live axle instead of independent rear suspension.
This setup allows additional wheel articulation over the previous-generation GX, as well as the fitment of wheels up to 22-inches in diameter and tyres up to 33-inches in size.
While the base specification uses passive damping, Overtrail and Sports Luxury variants come with adaptive damping. The Overtrail also uses e-KDSS (a new electronically controlled version of the previous generation vehicle’s kinetic dynamic suspension system setup that offers an extra 83mm of wheel articulation).
Kick the engine over and there’s a nice thrum as it sits idle. There’s even a light exhaust note at idle that signals there’s something going on under the bonnet – it’s not crazy, but it’s a pleasant surprise.
The 10-speed automatic transmission is a clever gearbox too. It was designed to be fully locked up as often as possible throughout its rev band – this fully locked-up state makes the car feel more responsive and more like a manual vehicle, with the engine directly driving the driveline with no slip.
In Sport mode this is amplified even further where the vehicle forces itself to remain fully locked at speeds above 3km/h. So in Sport mode, there’s a direct connection between the throttle and chassis feel – it’s quite a rewarding experience and makes the vehicle feel quite sporty.
Low-speed driving is quiet and comfortable. Even the non-adaptive entry-level variant offers a comfortable ride on 20-inch alloy wheels – it soaks up bumps nicely and isn’t too fussed by potholes and cobblestoned roads.
It’s worth noting our test route around the roads outside of Tucson in Arizona were fairly smooth and there weren’t a great deal of corners to push the GX anywhere near its limits.
Road noise is subdued, even on the Overtrail specification – which rides on all-terrain tyres, that can be pretty noisy on the highway.
Visibility is excellent, especially when it’s paired with the digital rear view mirror. The driving position is commanding and the rectangular wing mirrors offer decent vision down the sides of the vehicle, with a blind-spot monitor built-in.
We did find the driver distraction monitor quite annoying. It would often try and remind us to keep our eyes on the road, even if our eyes were glued to the road. It also occasionally came up with messages asking us to sit up – even though our seating position hadn’t moved.
Of the corners we did find, the GX remained fairly flat, but again the lower speed limits and large sweeping bends weren’t really an accurate representation of the variety of roads you’ll find across Australia.
Versions of the GX with bigger 22-inch wheels and low-profile tyres also rode well. The adaptive damping system has a number of modes to pick from that all vary the ride quality in some way.
We found the Comfort setting pretty good, but we want to see how it fares at the proving ground when we get the GX in Australia. We’ve experienced handling issues previously with LX and 300 Series variants fitted with both KDSS and adaptive damping, so it’ll be interesting to see if the GX fares the same way.
One thing you’ll love is how much punch is on offer from the V6 petrol engine. The gearbox is quick to respond to inputs and the slab of torque on offer from the drivetrain is addictive.
It feels so much more exciting to drive than a diesel and if you’re happy to pay a bit extra to cover the fuel cost, it’s a ripper drivetrain for this platform.
Let’s chat about off-road driving, something that GX owners are expected to do if they go down the path of the Overtrail variant.
The numbers are impressive – approach angle comes in at 26 degrees, departure at 23 degrees (or 21 for the Overtrail due to the larger spare tyre beneath the rear). Ground clearance is 220mm (or 225mm for the Overtrail) and wading depth is 700mm.
Standard electronic equipment includes crawl control, centre differential lock (Torsen), rear differential lock on Overtrail and low-range gearing on all variants.
We had the chance to sample GX across a number of purpose-built obstacles at the launch. These included an offset mogul to push articulation to its limits, steep gravel climbs to test crawl control, along with a number of obstacles designed to test the camera systems.
Colour-coded lines are displayed on the screen to show wheel travel, along with camera memory to offer artificial vision of what’s beneath the vehicle. All of these views are quite useful for various terrain.
Throttle control off-road is great, and it comes down to the calibration offered in each drive mode. Depending on the mode you’re in, the vehicle will tailor the stability control and throttle sensitivity to suit the conditions.
Over the offset mogul the amount of wheel lift that was achieved thanks to the KDSS system was excellent. It works by using hydraulics that are driven by load on each corner of the vehicle. When there is a wheel that falls into a rut and reaches full extension, the system is able to disconnect the anti-roll bar to allow the wheel to lift even further.
Without KDSS and with an anti-roll bar, the GX would have less articulation due to the limitations of the anti-roll system. The system not only works in theory, but it works in practice and delivers excellent results. When coupled with the rear differential lock, lifting a wheel off the ground at the rear doesn’t affect the vehicle’s traction.
Needless to say, it all felt incredibly capable. Given these media events are engineered to highlight the vehicle’s best parts, we’ll reserve final judgement for when we get the Lexus GX back home in Australian test conditions.
GX 550 Luxury highlights:
- 20-inch alloy wheels (with a full-size spare)
- Self-levelling LED headlights
- Rear privacy glass
- Rear spoiler
- Flush roof rails
- 8-way power-adjustable front seats
- Heated, ventilated front seats
- Heated outboard rear seats
- 60:40-split folding rear seats
- Push-button folding third-row seats
- Tri-zone climate control
- Head-up display
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 14-inch infotainment screen
- Wireless, wired Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 10-speaker sound system
- Wireless phone charger
- 5 x USB-C ports
- 12-volt front and 220-volt rear outlets
- Power tailgate with fold-out glass hatch
- 9 airbags
- Tyre pressure monitoring system
- 360-degree camera
GX 550 Overtrail adds:
- Black 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tyres
- Wheel arch mouldings
- Unique bumpers
- Black trim highlights
- Bridge-type roof rails
- Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
- Locking rear differential
- Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (eKDSS)
- Multi-Terrain Select off-road traction control system
- Multi-Terrain Monitor
- Downhill assist control
- ‘Multi-stage’ Crawl Control
- Olive green Ultrasuede front seat accents and stitching
- Stiffer bases, softer bolstering
- ‘Unique door ornamentation’
- Smart key
- Refrigerated cool box
- Removes 3rd row seats
GX 550 Sports Luxury adds (over Luxury):
- 22-inch alloy wheels
- Adaptive high-beam
- Power-extending side steps
- Panoramic glass roof
- Adaptive variable suspension
- 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
- Massage function for front seats
- Semi-aniline leather-accented trimmed seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Digital rear-view mirror
- 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Refrigerated coolbox
Neither the new Lexus GX or Toyota LandCruiser Prado (250 Series) have been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
The related Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series does, however, wear a 2022-stamped five-star ANCAP safety rating. Given the GX and Prado share the same TNGA-F platform, and should be decked out with the latest and greatest safety and assistance features Toyota has to offer, we expect them to achieve similar results.
Lexus covers its range with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
The Lexus Encore ownership plan included at purchase also incorporates three years of roadside assistance. It’s unclear whether the GX will get the standard Encore benefits or the posher Encore Premium plan like the LX.
Lexus Australia hasn’t confirmed service pricing for the GX 550 yet, though as a guide the LX 600 with the same twin-turbo V6 (though with a higher tune) asks for $495 per visit for the first three years or 60,000km.
It’s worth noting the LX requires maintenance either six months or 10,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
I went into this test thinking I’d like the GX based on its fundamentals – a punchy turbocharged V6 petrol engine, stacks of standard equipment, and off-road capability particularly in Overtrail trim.
I came away liking it a lot more than I thought I would. I liked the Luxury and Sports Luxury versions, but for me the Overtrail is well and truly the pick.
It looks sensational in person and comes with all the equipment you need to take it off-road after you’ve driven out of the dealership.
In the US the GX is offered with a stack of ARB aftermarket accessories – and with a bit of luck we’ll see this range of equipment offered in Australia down the track too.
If you’re interested in one, I’d get in quick smart. These are likely to sell out ahead of the launch and will no doubt have extended wait times – hit up our Buy a Car service to be connected with a dealer.
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