Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Welcome to the enchanting lands of Tucson, Arizona for the national press launch and test drive of the all-new, third-generation 2024 Lexus GX 550 SUV. With a stern focus on off-roading and the Overland community, Lexus upgraded the styling of the body-on-frame SUV with a boxy, rugged design to fit its active lifestyle mannerisms. Dating back to 2002 when the first GX hit the scene, enthusiasts of the SUV brand can expect greater capability, modern comfort features, advanced technology, and an assertive attitude.
To get right to the point, the new GX is powered by a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 which allows the resilient SUV to tow up to 9,063 pounds depending on the model you select. Paired with an upgraded 10-speed direct-shift automatic transmission (replacing the previous 6-speed), the powertrain produces 349-horsepower and 479 lb.-ft. of torque. It felt pretty good on highway runs and confident off the beaten path. Expect 15 city mpg and 21 highway. Indeed, I would have liked to see more city miles as I get that from my 2022 RAM’s HEMI V8. Keep in mind that a hybrid engine is coming to the U.S. at a later date.
Stylistically, there are numerous exterior hues to choose from including Nightfall Mica, Nori Green, Caviar, and my favorite Earth, as well as two-tone combos with black rooftops. Lexus revamped the body of the GX for a robust silhouette, beginning with an aggressive, high-mounted hood with bulges on both sides that intuitively line up with the placements of the wheels. A traditional power tailgate with kick sensors and an exterior release button for the tailgate window replaces the previous inconvenient barn door. Moreover, the A-pillars are pushed back, the headlights are placed as high as possible to avoid off-road debris, and the wheels are pushed to the corners.
Running boards are standard and tall yet extremely narrow side mirrors have been implemented. Though, they should be much wider, especially if you will be trailing. Alloy rim choices are available in 20s and 22s depending on model selection. Lexus additionally partnered with various accessory companies for customizations that can be installed directly at the dealer. Pricing is set from headquarters so retailers don’t upcharge you.
The full-time 4WD GX 550 will come in six variations, three of which are new to Lexus. Fans of the brand can select from the GX 550 Luxury, GX 550 Luxury+, GX 550 Premium, GX 550 Premium+, and for super adventurers, there are the first-ever GX 550 OVERTRAIL and GX 550 OVERTRAIL+ models. This go-anywhere pair revamps the portfolio with bravado and comes with the following:
- Standard 33″ all-terrain Toyo Open Country tires and 6-spoke 18” alloy wheels
- Lower bumper insert to handle rough riding
- Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System
- Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
- Electronically Controlled Locking Rear differential
- Crawl Control with Downhill Assist
- 6-mode Multi-Terrain Select (Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow, and Rock)
On a short off-road loop, my GX 500 OVERTRAIL 4WD had no problems meandering through rough terrain, water puddles, and hills. But this course was not a testament to the Japanese SUV’s true skill set. A trip to Moab would be more opportune for the OVERTRAILs.
Inside the technical cabin, the GX is much cleaner and more organized than the prior generation. The new 14” Lexus Interface touchscreen display is your nucleus for Alexa, Wireless Apple CarPlay, Wireless Android Auto, and the standard 10-speaker Lexus premium sound system. Three typical colors are available — Black, Tan, and Gray – and up to 6 USB-c ports and 5-passenger or 7-passenger configurations are attainable, including optional captain chairs. I’m also a fan of the physical knobs for volume, temperature, and Drive Mode Select.
The cabin further comprises NuLuxe synthetic leather seat trim and ambient illumination. Available depending on your model or option upgrade are massaging seats, a 21-speaker Mark Levinson Surround System, Dynamic Sky panorama glass roof, a 10″ color Head-Up Display, Traffic Jam Assist, Digital Key, and a cool box.
And if you are wondering about safety, standard features will alleviate your concerns since active protection is always at the top of Lexus engineers’ minds. Thus, the GX is packaged with Lexus Safety System + 3.0 with over-the-air updates. It instills the GX with All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Curve Speed Management, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Road Sign Assist, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Intersection Support, and Lane Tracing Assist to help keep your SUV centered in its lane. That all sounds good and safe to me!
Competing in the mid-luxury SUV segment along with the Land Rover Defender, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and BMW X5/X7, the 2024 GX 550 has a starting MSRP of $64,250 including the delivery and processing fee. Lexus believes 30% of sales will stem from the combination of both the OVERTRAIL models. Overall, the company is targeting 33,000 units to be sold in 2024 with an arrival at dealerships in the second quarter of 2024. Happy trailing!