2024 Lexus GX First Drive Review: Unshackled

With the TX crossover taking on light-duty SUV tasks, this SUV is free to be a serious off-roader.

Silver 2024 Lexus GXChristian Wardlaw


Much of Orange County, California, is not the extreme terrain Lexus engineered the 2024 GX to tackle, but it is a natural habitat for SUVs. Long revered for its off-roading capabilities, the Lexus GX traverses suburban school drop-off lines, high-end shopping district parking garages, and thick commuter traffic as often or more than it does rocky trails, overgrown paths, and muddy puddles.

Fittingly, the O.C. is where I drove the redesigned 2024 Lexus GX. The new GX remains a rugged, body-on-frame, midsize SUV with available three-row seating. However, it drops its V8 engine in favor of a twin-turbocharged V6 supplying more power and slightly better fuel economy. A Lexus GX hybrid will join the lineup later this year.

Naturally, the 2024 GX can still travel farther off-road than your courage might allow while promising the quality and dependability for which Lexus is known. In addition, the new Lexus GX offers the automaker's latest infotainment technology and safety features, all wrapped in appealing bodywork that conveys the SUV's mission and capabilities.

Lexus offers the 2024 GX 550 in Premium, Overtrail, and Luxury trim levels, with prices ranging from the mid-$60,000s to the mid-$80,000s. Production starts in February 2024, and I think Lexus will need to rev up the assembly line because the new GX has the makings of a hit.

I think the new 2024 Lexus GX will prove far more popular than the outgoing version. It has the right look and capabilities to capitalize on the current overlanding trend, backed up by the reliability synonymous with Lexus. Plan to see quite a few on the road, especially in places like the O.C.

Silver 2024 Lexus GXChristian Wardlaw

The 2024 Lexus GX Embraces Its True Talents

Conceptually, the new GX is similar to the old one. It remains a genuine off-roader wearing a layer of Lexus luxury and refinement. What's different is the SUV's sharper focus on adventure in its styling, capabilities, and extensive catalog of overlanding accessories. With the all-new Lexus TX handling three-row family-hauling duties, the Lexus GX is free to embrace its off-roading talents.

Starting under the hood, the twin-turbo 3.4-liter V6 makes 349 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 48 horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous V8 engine. Maximum towing capacity increases substantially, up to 9,096 pounds, depending on the model. The new GX is slightly more efficient than the old one, too, with Lexus estimating 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined for the 2024 GX 550.

All GX models are capable off-road, but the Overtrail takes this Lexus to the next level. Standard features include 18-inch wheels with 33-inch all-terrain tires, higher ground clearance, and an adaptive suspension with an improved electronic version of the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (E-KDSS) offering more wheel articulation. The maximum water fording depth is 27.5 inches.

In addition, the GX 550 Overtrail has an electronically locking rear differential to go with the GX's standard locking center differential, Downhill Assist Control, Crawl Control (off-road cruise control), and Multi-Terrain Select driving modes with a 3D Multi-Terrain Monitor camera system.

Instrument panel in a 2024 Lexus GXChristian Wardlaw

GX Overtrail Proves Capable, GX Premium Displays Soft Silkiness

My time with the GX was brief, limited to the suburban streets of Costa Mesa, California, and a simulated off-roading course set up in a parking lot. However, it was illuminating enough to generate favorable impressions.

On the off-road course, Lexus demonstrated the Overtrail's off-road cruise control, Rock driving mode, the new suspension system, and the different 3D camera views. With Crawl Control engaged and the stabilizer bar tension relaxed, the SUV calmly rolled over obstacles and effortlessly traversed a 30-degree slope at a steady rate of speed.

The star of the off-roading show is the 3D camera system. In particular, the front and rear transparent views, allowing you to see the ground under the SUV and where the wheels are going, will undoubtedly prove helpful on challenging trails. In addition, it shows off-roading data, and when the Lexus is on a slope greater than 30 degrees, it warns the driver to take greater care in picking a path forward.

On suburban streets and boulevards, the GX 550's engine sounds good and delivers robust acceleration, while the 10-speed automatic transmission snaps off quick, decisive shifts. The steering has a heavy, silky feel and isn't as quick or as sharp as what you'll find in a Lexus TX due to the GX's off-road-ready nature.

I found the brakes easy to modulate in traffic for smooth, clean stops. The Premium+ test model's ride was soft and compliant, too.

Unfortunately, I could not drive the GX 550 Premium+ on a freeway, a twisty mountain road, or in dirt or mud, so I cannot comment on its behavior in those settings. In addition, I did not experience how the adaptive suspension, available in the Overtrail and Luxury models, alters the SUV's driving characteristics.

Front seats in a 2024 Lexus GXChristian Wardlaw

There Is Comfort and Compromise With the New Lexus GX Interior

Lexus equips the GX with standard running boards, but only the GX 550 Luxury+ gets power-retractable versions. The fixed running boards are useful when strapping things to the roof rack or squeezing into the third-row seat. Otherwise, they just get in the way. On a rainy test-drive day, as I entered and exited the SUV, the running boards coated the legs of my jeans with water and grit.

Front-seat comfort is excellent. You sit up high and enjoy outstanding visibility in every direction. Front-seat heating and ventilation are standard in every GX, and upgrades include a massaging function, a heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats.

The second row offers enough room to accommodate taller adults on longer drives. Air-conditioning vents and a separate climate control panel add to the comfort level. Lexus also offers side window sunshades and a panoramic sunroof with transparent and opaque settings.

Entering and exiting the GX's third-row seat is no fun. Taller passengers will fit back there but probably won't be happy about it. When in use, the third row also eats up all the cargo space, just as it did in the old GX.

Cargo volume measurements are 10.3 cubic-feet behind the third row, 40.2 cu-ft behind the second row, and 76.9 cu-ft behind the front seats. Overtrails don't have third-row seats, so they're more accommodating at 45.6 and 90.5 cu-ft.

Interior of a 2024 Lexus GXChristian Wardlaw

Lexus Brings the 2024 GX Into the Modern Age

The Lexus Interface infotainment system has a large 14.0-inch touchscreen and includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Several connected service plans are also standard, offering complimentary trial subscriptions ranging from three months to 10 years. A 21-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system is available.

The conversational digital voice assistant worked well enough during the evaluation to leave a favorable impression. However, when I searched for a local park, the system sent me to an adjacent neighborhood instead. My Premium+ test vehicle had the standard 10-speaker sound system, which is decent. Premium+ trim includes a surround-view camera, which proved helpful when parking.

Every 2024 GX has Lexus Safety System+ 3.0, equipping the SUV with a long list of standard safety features. The collection includes the ones you've come to expect in modern vehicles plus evasive steering assist, intersection assist, emergency stop assist, traffic-jam assist, and Proactive Driving Assist.

Due to available testing conditions, the only features I experienced were the front cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring systems. Blind-spot monitoring is essential in the GX because the side mirrors are tall and narrow, limiting the visibility of the SUV's blind spots.

Silver 2024 Lexus GXChristian Wardlaw

Lexus Forces Rivals to Defend Their Turf

Aside from its new twin-turbo V6, upcoming hybrid powertrain, and appealing Land Rover-adjacent design, changes to the 2024 Lexus GX are rooted mainly in the new Overtrail model and significant technology advancements. Otherwise, from a philosophical standpoint, it's the same SUV it's always been. The difference is that it no longer must pretend to be something it isn't.

With the 2024 GX, Lexus aims at the Land Rover Defender. Though less steeped in history than its primary rival, the GX has established itself as a dependable and trustworthy tool for extreme adventuring. Lexus also names the BMW X5 and X7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE as GX competitors, though they don't strike me as logical cross-shopping alternatives.

Lexus provided the vehicle for this 2024 GX review.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.