2024 Lexus GX 550 paints target on Land Rover

2024 Lexus GX 550 paints target on Land Rover


Land Rover has a new problem, and of all the automakers, the problem comes from Lexus.

We’ll just file that under things we didn’t see coming in 2024.

For the first time in 14 years, the 2024 Lexus GX 550 is new. Most of it remains familiar. This year, the body-on-frame SUV arrives on a new platform, with fewer cylinders and more modern technology, all in a sharply creased and attractive package. 

After driving the 2024 Lexus GX 550 on- and off-road outside Tucson, Arizona, I came to one conclusion above all others. Land Rover dealers should be nervous.

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

What does the Lexus GX 550 look like?

An SUV. Gone are the subtle curves, really any semblance of a soft edge. The GX 550 is an upright, boxy brick with throwback design cues and slab sides. The rectangular side view mirrors harken back to the FJ Cruiser and other classic Toyota SUVs. The A-pillars are more upright thanks to the base of the windshield being set back 2.8 inches further. The headlights are mounted up high to be protected from off-road adventures while the horizontal LED taillight is mounted high for better visibility while off-roading. Overtrail models feature running boards that can be removed with four bolts per side. All versions wear a big Lexus spindle grille. 

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

Inside the GX is all about horizontal, hard lines. The upright dashboard is similar to that of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class where it’s not very deep and mounted close to the windshield. Fortunately Lexus didn’t install the RX and NX’s touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons in the GX, and these are real buttons. Every GX gets a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 14.0-inch touchscreen. Both use the same software as other Lexus vehicles, which means the gauge cluster can be nearly washed out in certain lighting conditions and the massive touchscreen lacks split-screen capability. Does anybody need full-width Apple CarPlay or navigation?

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

What kind of engine does the Lexus GX 550 have?

The V-8 is dead. RIP.

Every 2024 GX 550 is powered by a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 producing 349 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. A full-time four-wheel-drive system featuring a 2-speed transfer case is standard. A hybrid model will be available at some point, but Lexus was mum on a timeline.

Lexus claims a 0-60 mph sprint of 6.5 seconds, and my butt dyno says that feels about right. The old model was comparatively slow with the same sprint taking 7.8 seconds.

The turbo-6 has a deep sound to it that isn’t nasal, and torque kicks in quickly off the line at about 2,000 rpm thanks to quick-spooling turbos. Unlike other iterations of this engine, you can’t really hear the turbos spool here.

The 10-speed automatic is a joy and among my favorite automatic transmissions on the market. It cracks off quick, smooth shifts and never seems to get lost in all those gears. Sport and Sport+ mode drops the system down a gear for more engaging driving. In off-road modes the transmission will hold gear changes and increase engine speed to ensure more control in the power delivery.

The GX won’t win any efficiency contests, but it’s better (barely) than the outgoing V-8 with estimated fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, 17 mpg combined. In my abbreviated exposure it was hard to get a true sense of the GX’s real-world fuel economy, but it was clear that around town, if the driver keeps their foot out of the power, the turbos won’t be spooling. With the turbos not spooling it seems the powertrain is capable of averaging in the mid-20s. We’ll need more time behind the wheel to truly determine how efficient the GX is. 

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

How much can the Lexus GX 550 tow?

More than originally advertised. Lexus originally estimated the GX would tow up to 8,000 pounds. After SAE J2807 validation the max tow rating climbed to 9,096 pounds in Overtrail trim. That’s a ton of weight with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. We look forward to towing with the GX at some point. 

Notably the 7- and 5-pin connector for trailer lights is mounted underneath the bumper on the left side of the receiver. Just like the larger LX 600, this means you will need to get down on the ground to see the plug and connect the trailer lights. Hope it’s not muddy down there. The hitch receiver itself has a plastic cover that is secured with two push pins, which require a flathead screwdriver to remove. It’s a pain and nearly everyone else uses traditional twist-to-release fasteners.

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

How does the Lexus GX 550 drive?

Compared to the outgoing GX 470 the GX 550 feels sprightly on its rubber feet. The steering is boosted and light, but not sloppy, unlike the slow, heavy steering in the previous GX. This is despite weighing hundreds (depending on the configuration) of pounds more than the outgoing model. Plumbing and hardware for turbos adds weight.

Sharing its TNGA-F platform with everything from the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma pickups to the Sequoia SUV, the GX isn’t built like the Land Rover Defender, yet Lexus has tuned the suspension so it doesn’t ride like a truck. It’s more akin to a super-stiff crossover when things get bumpy.

Base Premium and Premium+ models ride on 20-inch wheels with passive dampers, but high-zoot Luxury and Luxury+ models roll on 22-inch wheels with the latter getting adaptive dampers. Models with the passive dampers feature a comfortable and controlled ride with some body lean around corners, but cobblestone driveways fail to upset the GX. More luxurious Luxury+ models can soften the ride in comfort mode or firm things up in Sport and Sport+. The passive dampers seem to have a neutral tune that equates to Normal mode in GXs with adaptive dampers. 

The most comfortable GX is the Overtrail. That’s due in part to the adaptive dampers, but mostly it’s from downsizing to 18-inch wheels and thick 33-inch Toyo Open Country tires. The latter provide a 10-mm wider track on Overtrail models. Lexus spokespeople confirmed 35s will not fit without rubbing and or other issues in stock form. Despite their chunky appearance the all-terrain tires don’t come with a howl on dry pavement.  

The off-road model is the only trim to feature Toyota’s E-KDSS system, which automatically electronically (previous iterations used a hydraulic setup) disconnects the sway bars for more articulation off-road. But on the road the system helps stiffen the vehicle laterally around corners, which helps compensate for the softer, taller, sidewall on the all-terrain tires. It’s a trick setup and nobody else offers such a system.

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

How capable is the Lexus GX 550 off-road?

Far more capable than most crossover SUVs. With a 2-speed transfer case, the E-KDDS system enabling up to 25 inches of front and 21 inches of rear articulation, and crawl control (which is like off-road cruise control) the GX 550 can venture further off-road than Lexus sent us.

However, that Lexus spindle grille poses an issue. Lexus plans on launching the GX with up to 15 accessories through the dealership including partners like ARB and Dometic. Customers will be able to fit accessories right from the showroom and wrap them into their payment—but one of those accessories, at least at launch, won’t be a steel bumper or a winch. 

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

The problem: The grille goes all the way up to the hoodline, and the front-facing camera, parking sensors, and forward-facing radar unit for the safety systems are all integrated completely into the grille. None are protected well enough. When I asked GX Chief Engineer Koji Sato how a steel bumper, say from ARB, and a winch could be integrated into the front end of the GX his smile turned and he quickly said through a translator that they would need to investigate a solution. At least the lower center panel on the Overtrail’s front end can be replaced easily if they get damaged. 

All GXs have an approach angle of 26 degrees, but the departure angle varies by trim with 21 degrees at the low end on Luxury models and 23 degrees at the high end on Premium models. Overtrails split the difference with a departure angle of 22 degrees. Breakover angle is 23 degrees on all but Overtrail models, which increases to 24 degrees. 

Every GX can wade in up to 27.56 inches of water, according to Lexus. We didn’t go anywhere nearly that deep. The most technical course we were set to tackle was flooded out by rare rainstorms in Tucson just before my arrival. But I was able to put the GX through its paces on some articulation exercises where it was extremely composted and quiet. Engaging the 2-speed transfer case requires the flick of a switch and  introduces gear whine as the reduction gears do their thing to multiply the torque.

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

Our off-road guide had me put the GX in Mud mode, lock the standard center differential that splits the power evenly 50:50, put the four-wheel-drive system in 4Lo, and engage the electronic rear locking differential, which is standard on the Overtrail model. It was all extreme overkill. The GX crawled along the rocky and at times mud-covered path without breaking a sweat.

After ditching our off-road guide I decided to trust my gut that this was all far beneath the GX’s capabilities. I took the GX out of 4Lo and put it in 4Hi, disengaged the rear locker, but did leave the system in Mud mode and kept the center locker engaged. Minutes into the off-road course it was apparent the GX still wasn’t breaking a sweat. This SUV’s capabilities were far beyond what Lexus was showing off. 

If there’s anything else the GX lacks in off-road hardware it would be air suspension and a front locker. Land Rovers feature the former, though while it can give a vehicle more ground clearance it also introduces a new point of failure. The latter was deemed unnecessary, according to Sato. It probably is, but there’s no kill like overkill when it comes to off-road hardware.

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

Is the Lexus GX 550 comfortable?

It depends which seat you’re sitting in. Those up front will be the most comfortable with supportive seats, soft leather, and on Luxury + and Overtrail+, a massage function that’s unfortunately only accessed deep into the menu system requiring multiple taps to engage.

The second row is comfortable with 36.7 inches of legroom, but take note of which seats you opt for. Luxury+ and Overtrail+ models with the massaging front seats will have the center of the front seat backs eat into legroom due to the massaging hardware. Lexus puts hard seat back covers on these seats and scallops them to create more knee room. Models without front massaging seats have soft, flat seatbacks and more legroom overall. 

While wide second-row captain’s seats are an option, I found the bench seat to be more comfortable despite the seat bottom being a bit flat. The captain’s chairs have airplane-style flip down armrests I struggled to find a comfortable position with. The second row features reclining seat backs that will be welcome on road trips. Due to the body-on-frame packaging the rear seats hug the rear axle. This creates a stadium-style seating effect where the second-row occupants are placed higher than those in the front. 

Every GX outside of the Overtraill is a three-row SUV while Overtrails ditch the third row, for now. Lexus’ General Manager Greg Kitzens told Motor Authority due to customer feedback the automaker may add a third row as an option to the Overtrail trim. Customers requesting a third row in the Overtrail clearly haven’t sat in the way back, yet. With a hair less than 32 inches of legroom back there the third row is at best for short trips as a kid zone. Cargo space drops to 10.3 cubic feet of space with the third row up, and expands to a spacious 40.2 cubic feet of space with it folded. The third row folds nearly flat, but slopes the floor as the front folds into the solid rear axle.  

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

A key design change on the GX is the rear door for the cargo area. Love it or hate it, the barn-style door from the GX 460 and 470 is gone. The Defender still has this barn door and it has a spare tire mounted to the back of it hindering rear vision. Lexus gave the GX 550 a more traditional flip-up tailgate with a separate flip-up rear window. The tall rear end makes this a massive piece of metal that will provide nice cover in the Costco parking lot. But like the 4Runner’s tailgate, it’s likely going to hit your garage door. Unlike the 4Runner the GX’s tailgate is powered and can be programmed to only open so high as to not hit the garage door. Clutch.  

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

What kind of safety technology does the Lexus GX 550 feature?

Every GX 550 comes standard with the latest active safety tech including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and traffic sign recognition. Blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts and parking sensors are standard, but only oddly base Premium and Overtrail models don’t have rear pedestrian detection while the rest of the lineup does. 

The system also features Lexus’ Proactive Driving Assist, which will apply the steering and braking inputs to help the driver maintain distance from surrounding vehicles. Every GX will feature a surround-view camera system, but only the Overtrail models feature cameras that can see underneath the SUV as part of its off-road hardware. 

The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster will be familiar to anyone having been in a recent Lexus. The same can be said for the 14.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is easy to operate. The touchscreen still can’t split its screen into zones, so I hope you like a huge map or more Apple CarPlay than anyone needs on their dashboard. A 10.0-inch color head-up display is available on all trims, but like most systems it washes out and can’t really be seen while wearing polarized sunglasses.

2024 Lexus GX 550

2024 Lexus GX 550

How much does the 2024 Lexus GX 550 cost?

At $64,250 including a $1,350 destination charge the base 2024 GX Premium costs $5,125 less than a comparable Land Rover Defender with a turbo-6 and $8,620 less than a comparable Land Rover Discovery with a turbo-6. Even a loaded Overtrail+ at $78,600 slices thousands off the price of a competitive Land Rover.

With six trims including Premium, Premium+, Luxury, Luxury+, Overtrail, and Overtrail+, the pricing spread only runs $17,000. Being a Lexus, all but the base Premium and Overtrail models feature a power steering column, heated front and rear seats, and a wireless smartphone charger. Only Luxury and Luxury+ models at $78,600 and the $82,600 feature semi-aniline leather-trimmed interiors, and those massaging front seats that eat into rear seat legroom are standard on the Luxury, Luxury+, and Overtrail+ models.

With similar off-road capability and on-road chutzpah for less money, the 2024 Lexus GX 550 should give Land Rover pause. It’s an impressive turnaround from the dated package Lexus sold just last year. It’s a better off-roader, too—with a little room for improvement. 

Lexus flew me to Tucson where it was raining on and off constantly to drive the GX so I could write this review. I got wet.



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