Home » I Drove The 2024 Lexus GX To See If It’s Really The Ultimate Overlanding Platform

I Drove The 2024 Lexus GX To See If It’s Really The Ultimate Overlanding Platform

Lexus Gx 550 First Drive Ts4
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When Lexus first announced a third generation of its GX model, the bold design raised a lot of eyebrows. This led me to wonder if what I considered to be the best SUV model out there was finally going to receive the credit it had always deserved. Now I’ve driven it both on and off-road, and I’m ready to spill the tea. Buckle up, there is a lot.

[Full Disclosure: Lexus flew me out, put me up in an amazing hotel and fed me $40 breakfast burritos. I’m new to this whole experience, but I am told that this is pretty posh, if expected, treatment. I should also disclose that Toyota SUV’s are to me what Jeeps are to David Tracy, so bear that in mind. I am a seasoned Lexus GX owner, meaning I can tell you if this new one is the real deal or not. Let’s get into that, shall we?]

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What Is It?

GX550 Overtail

The Lexus GX has for years been the U.S.’s luxury-ified version of the lighter duty Toyota Land Cruiser Model called the “Prado” in other markets. It has for a long time been in the shadow of the heavier-duty Toyota Land Cruiser and its Lexus cousin, the LX. Things are different, now, though, as there is no longer a Land Cruiser or LX available in the U.S. that is heavier-duty.

The GX550, chassis code J252, is built on the TNGA-F Platform shared with the upcoming Toyota Land Cruiser, international Land Cruiser, Lexus LX, Tundra, Tacoma and Sequoia. There are key differences in the various flavors, but they all share a basic foundation, which is all new.

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The GX has historically been sort of a secret in the market — a potent trail machine dressed in unassuming attire (that’s my 2008 below). No longer. With its upright and boxy silhouette, the GX550 is clear about its intention. The GX550 is here to rip trails and haul families, and it’s already dropped the kids off at dance. While I will miss it being our little secret, the new GX looks good, and with so much in common with the its larger cousins, it may be time for the GX to shine. 

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[Editor’s Note: Meet Patrick Rich, also known as Hammerheadfistpunch, a longtime reader/commenter here, and a huge Land Cruiser fan and Lexus GX owner. I figured I’d send a real Land Cruiser owner on this trip, so have a read of Patrick’s first big first-drive review! -DT]. 

Let’s Talk Overall Size, Engine And Transmission

The previous models benefited from tidy dimensions that helped the model distinguish itself compared to the larger Lexus LX and Toyota Land Cruiser, and made trail and city driving a breeze.  The new GX is significantly longer, wider, taller and heavier than the outgoing GX460. Here’s a little table I threw together showing not just the previous GX models, but also two competitors: The Land Rover Defender 110 and the Ineos Grenadier:

GX470 GX460 GX550 Defender 110s Grenadier
Length (in) 188.20 189.20 197.00 187.30 191.20
Width (in) 74.00 74.20 78.00 79.10 76.00
Height (in) 74.60 73.80 75.40 77.40 80.70
Weight (lbs) 4871 5128 5467 5165 5875

The big new GX gets out of its own way courtesy of a 3.4 liter twin turbo V6. The port and direct injected V35A-FTS produces 349 horsepower and 4800-5200 rpm and 479 lbs-ft from 2000-3600 rpm. This beats the outgoing GX460’s 4.6 liter naturally aspirated V8 by 48 hp and 150 lb-ft, respectively.  That old engine, the 1UR-FE enjoys a phenomenal reputation for reliability; time will tell if this new more complex powertrain will follow suit.

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V35A-FTS

Lexus is far from the first to downsize from a V8 to a turbo V6, but the brand has taken their time, and I trust it’s gotten it right. Toyota’s D4-S dual port/direct injection strategy, as an example, solves the very real problem of carbon buildup on intake valves that have plagued direct-injected turbo motors from other manufactures.  The oversquare design with a 100mm bore, an 85.5 mm stroke and a 10.1:1 compression ratio help give the engine decent response without always relying on the turbos; around town the boost gauge showed little activity with light throttle. I had to wonder what this engine would feel like if you took the turbos off, and my guess is that it’s probably not far from the outgoing 3.5 liter V6 from the Tacoma. Of course the turbos are there and they will build torque at low revs when asked. 

This is a similar engine as found in the flagship Lexus LS, but with smaller turbos and subtle changes that make it suitable for truck duty (One example: Toyota has always used mechanical fan clutches in their trucks instead of electric fans, so you see that here).

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The transmission is Toyota’s 10-speed AWR10L65, another in a long line of durable, long lasting Aisin made transmissions. It’s modestly fast to shift, and it’s unobtrusive, with little hunting. It also allows for full manual control without automatic up or downshifting in manual, but not with the paddles; more on that later. Sidenote: the 65 is for the 650 newton meter rating on the transmission, which happens to be exactly 479 lbs-ft — the vehicle’s max torque rating. As far as transmissions go, I’ve got no complaints.

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Behind the transmission is a two-speed full-time AWD chain driven transfer case with Torsen limited slip differential with a locking function. This unit is all new with apparently stronger internals, a revised Torsen unit, and new shift actuators that make a noticeable difference off-road. The Torsen differential is a very good unit, but it’s old and conventional, with a passive take on full time AWD. Chief engineer Koji Tsukasaki tells me that a Torsen is more reliable and robust compared to active clutch based systems. I’m a fan.

The drivetrain needs to be robust, because the SAE certified tow rating is over 9000 pounds. This is not only best in its class, but still better than its big brother the LX. This is a full 2500 lbs more than the outgoing model’s 6500 pound tow figure. All GX come standard with an integrated trailer brake controller, so this really is a towing machine. (Payload figures aren’t out yet, but estimates based on curb weight and GVWR are between 1300 and 1700 pounds).

How Is It On-Road?

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All TNGA-F trucks feature a suspension that consists of a double wishbone independent front suspension and a five-link rear solid axle. All GX550 trims feature coil springs at all four corners. This represents a change from previous generations available with air suspension in the rear. Air suspension’s omission here came as a bit of a surprise to me. Air springs not only gave the GX a creamy ride, but also automatic load-leveling for towing, which I quite enjoy. Plus air suspension could offer a good blend of off-road capability and on-road aerodynamics. (Air springs are still optional on some TNGA-F platforms, including Tundra).

To me, it felt like the GX550 has a firmer ride compared to the outgoing model, and it feels taller than before. It’s not bad, and it still gives off premium vibes, but it feels like it is wanting for a load to really be happy. It’s not just perception, either. To handle the payload and towing requirements without load leveling the engineers needed either stiffer or taller springs, in the rear or both. As a consequence, the GX550 has a noticeable rake, and the rear is taller than the front by over two inches. A taller rear spring allows for a level ride when loaded and additional suspension travel when unloaded without the need for a harsh ride. The Land Cruiser community calls this raked look “stinkbug,” and it’s how I have my 80 Series set up. Its very functional, but if the look is not to your taste, a front leveling kit should solve this for you.

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GX550 rake

I briefly drove the off-road-oriented “Overtrail” trim on-road from the hotel to the off-road ranch, and while it didn’t give me much time to really sample the flavor of the experience, it felt secure, and big. Overtrail trims features larger all-terrain tires, active roll bars, and special shocks, and the ride is slightly softer and you can certainly feel the extra sidewall in the tires. 

For most of all on road driving, though, I drove a Premium trim, which had the larger 20 inch wheels but smaller tires and standard roll bars and shocks. I noticed plenty of body roll in both models, and in roundabouts it was easy to find front-end plow. The Overtrail felt like the less precise of the two, but there wasn’t a big difference. The Luxury models with the larger wheels and street oriented tires as well as the active suspension may be the choice if your pursuits are primarily urban in nature.

Steering is ridiculously light. In a parking lot you can almost achieve full left or right lock by flicking the wheel hard one way or the other, The Price is Right style. I would be bothered if it weren’t also accurate, with no hints of wander, even on AT tires, though it does lack any kind of feel.

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The tracking is straight and true and the cabin is quiet, though not so quiet you forget you are in a truck. I haven’t spent enough time with the new Lexus infotainment system to be comfortable with it, and finding things can be a bit counterintuitive, but it is responsive and clear, and it features Apple Carplay and Android Auto, which everyone wants.  The optional Mark Levinson Stereo sounds amazing, but it should with 21 speakers and 1800 watts.

Honestly, the thing that I can say about the on road experience in the GX is that if you are used to driving something this size, it feels effortless; you’ll quickly forget you’re driving something this large.

Excellent Visibility

A major haulmark of all GX is the outward visibility. Chief Engineer Tsukasaki was quick to point out that the new GX’s greenhouse beltline is the lowest in class. It does indeed feel refreshingly low, with plenty of glass area. The result is excellent outward visibility. Compared to other models, I would say it’s actually better than the GX460, but worse than the GX470 and the 80 series, or at least I think so. Here’s a little clip I threw together:

The only visual impediment is the tall, wide, long hood. It’s a lot of real estate and you can’t escape looking at it, but it has been sculpted in the middle to increase forward visibility. One minor annoyance with the hood, is that it functions like a giant mirror of the sky (It’s a prime location for a little wrap work if it bothers you). A mirror that also has some amount of flutter due, I assume, to its aluminum construction. 

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A Huge Interior, But Not Quite Ideal For Overlanding

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Starting at the back, this generation of the GX is longer and wider, and it’s especially obvious in the cargo area. There is more than enough room in the back for your fridge, kitchen, and gear as well as all your soft goods. Speaking of the fridge, there is a 400 watt AC outlet in the back, but no 12v power point, an interesting omission, though there are USB-C ports in third row models.

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Middle row legroom and leg height while seating are both improved, and it’s a very accommodating interior for daily or touring use. My only complaints about the interior behind the driver’s seat is that there is a sloped floor just behind the second row, which isn’t easily removable (they tumble; they don’t fold flat), making sleeping in the truck a compromise. Something subtle I noticed was that despite the wheelbase growing around three inches, the aperture to the 2nd and 3rd rows appears to be slightly smaller and more forward than the outgoing model — I suspect a result of larger wheel arches that can accommodate larger tires.

One huge miss here is the lack of a split folding tailgate. I know a hatch is easier, but its not better. Split gates for life.

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Come on Toyota, you even drew in the line for where the tailgate would go! On the plus side, a hatch is better than the large, wrong-way-opening barn-door from the previous models. That door was meant to make storing the spare tire on the exterior easier so you could option extended range fuel tanks, but the U.S. only got the downsides of that door. The rear glass, like the previous model, opens separately to provide access without opening the entire hatch.

If there is one major letdown with the Overtrail trim specifically, it’s the lack of a third row. In fact, there is no configuration of GX550 that gives you both the bigger, locking rear differential and a third row. When asked, the chief engineer said that they chose cargo volume over passenger capacity for the off-road oriented Overtrail.

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While the third row does eat up a sizable amount of cargo volume, it’s a tradeoff I would happily take for the added versatility of two more seats. There is in fact only one way to get a locking rear differential and three rows with a TNGA-F truck, and that’s in the much larger Sequoia, which breaks my heart.

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And before you ask: You can’t remove the power-operated third row easily. Lexus didn’t rule out the possibility of a future third row, however, saying that it’s not an option… yet. Lexus has been in the mood to listen to its dealers lately who’ve been asking for more family friendly options (like the TX model), so go tell your dealer you want a three-row Overtrail and maybe we can make it happen!

How Is It Off-Road?

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Well, well well, look who finally discovered the profitability of overlanding. Congrats Lexus, better late than never. I’m being harsh; the GX has always been a good overlander, though now it doesn’t feel like it’s sneaking out at night to do it. Good or bad, the GX550 is all in on the overland aesthetic. 

Like all GXs before, the new GX550 comes standard with full-time 4WD with low range, off-road traction control and downhill assist.

New for this generation is the Overtail trim, which makes MTS (Multi-Terrain Select), CRAWL control, eKDSS (sway bar management) and AVS (Adaptive Variable Suspension) standard. The Overtrail also comes with the smallest wheels (18”) and the biggest tires (32.6”) of any trim, as well as the full skid plate treatment including engine, transmission, transfer case and fuel tank. Unique to this Overtrail and new to GX world is an electronically controlled selectable rear locker. It’s about time.

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One neat feature of the Overtail is seats with softer foam cushioning for long days on the trail. Let me tell you: They are excellent. Basically it’s a trim with all the off-roading content Lexus could fit.

Now, before we incur the wrath of David Tracy, let’s talk about off-road angles. These are for the Overtrail, but the standard trims will be in (parentheses):

Approach Breakover Departure Ground clearance Wading depth Suspension travel
26.00 24.00 (23) 22.00 (21-23) 8.66* 27.50 24.50 (22)

*Note: The ground clearance is listed as 8.66 inches for all trims, but Lexus confirmed that Overtrail trims have 9.21 owing to their larger tires. Toyota also measures “running ground clearance” which is a measure of the single lowest point. I measured several places with a laser and found no place, aside from one point at the front suspension crossmember, where there is less than 10 inches of clearance. 

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Honestly, these are decent numbers all around especially considering the mission of the vehicle. A big move for the new GX is a move to Toyota’s “golden ratio” wheelbase of 112.2 inches. If you haven’t already, check out my article the day prior to learn a little more about Toyota’s “golden ratio” and how they decided to balance the vehicle’s dimensions.

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As David pointed out in that article yesterday, the GX, like other Toyota/Lexus touring wagons with a similar size do have a big booty, but sacrificial contact points like tow loops or the standard hitch should hit first and protect anything vulnerable (like the rear bumper cover).

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Lexus prepared two off-road loops at a nearby ranch for us to do a bit of off-roading: an easy familiarization loop and an intermediate loop. The former was a rough road and the second was akin to, say, a washed out forest service road — something that would give any regular all-wheel drive SUV a hard time. (Originally there was another, much harder course to really challenge the vehicles, but I’m sad to say that even the Sonoran desert doesn’t guarantee dry weather, and the week leading up to the event the course got 10 percent of its annual rainfall. As a result, the hard course was either underwater or a mud bog).

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Still, while the easy loop gave us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the vehicle, the intermediate gave us a good sense for wheel travel, ride comfort and traction systems. While time and conditions didn’t lend themselves to a comprehensive review of capability, it was enough seat time to get a sense of the kind of touring vehicle it would be in the terrain I’m familiar with. 

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The summary is that it’s quite good. But lets back up a little and start with the tech that makes it happen.

Crawl Control is Toyota/Lexus’s automated off-road “cruise control,” and it takes control of traction management, the throttle, and brakes to maintain a set speed. It was first introduced in the 200 series Land Cruiser and has since made its way into other models including the outgoing GX460. Crawl Control, MTS and eKDSS are exclusive to the Overtrail trim.

With the GX550, I am pleased to report that using Crawl Control no longer sounds like 1000 angry gnomes toiling away in your hood with hammers. In fact, the system is now so quiet and smooth that it’s hard to know when you’ve lifted a wheel. In low range the system is extremely reactive, and easily the equal to Land Rover’s in that regard. As an old-school off-road fan who likes to use his feat and a vehicle’s gearing to maintain control, I’m still not sold on Crawl Control, but at least it’s no longer a hard decision between its benefit and its torturous noise. (Listen to how quiet it is in the clip above).

Also new with this version of Crawl Control is the ability to drive through the set speed limit without it disabling entirely. This allows use on an obstacle, then you can drive at a higher speed to the next obstacle, where you can use Crawl Control again without resetting. It’s a welcome addition, though I do wish Toyota would do like other manufactures and make the speed control more variable and accessed through the cruise control or paddles or something instead of preset speeds on a dial.

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Another feature to help assist with maneuverability is OTA (Off-road Turn Assist), which brakes the inside wheel under certain conditions to make turning tighter is still present, but I couldn’t get it to manifest after several tries. Chalking that up to user error or early build cars. Without OTA the turning radius is a respectable 19.7 feet. [Ed Note: On the Ford Bronco, which has a similar feature, you usually have to really hammer the throttle to get that to work. I wonder if that was the issue, here. -DT]. 

A Great Off-Road User Interface

Of the GX550’s direct competitors, the Land Rover Defender is probably the coolest luxury off-roader. It has a great ride, a powerful engine, stellar traction logic and robust hardware. It looks great, too. It’s also a perfect vehicle to illustrate the difference in thought process between the two long time rivals Toyota and Land Rover.

In the Defender, all off-road settings tie into the Terrain Response System. Simply choose your “terrain” with the dial and start driving, letting the computers handle range selection, suspension height, differential lock states and traction logic. While this “mama knows best” methodology does take some of the guesswork out of the myriad modes and configurations, it can also leave the driver out of the loop as to what’s happening.

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The GX takes a different approach and requires the driver to select transfer case ratio and differential lock status. I would liken it to Apple vs Android. Apple’s philosophy is to be simple and intuitive, but it can be infuriating if you want to do something they haven’t created an easy path for. Android, on the other hand, allows for more configuration and modification and encourages the user to come to the table with some skill. They both have their place, but as an overland vehicle, having some level of distinct drive control does a lot for driver confidence and trust.  

In the Lexus this is best illustrated by two key differences between it and its British rival. One, there are no on or off-road drive controls in the infotainment screen. No touchscreen inputs are required to change drive setting. Nothing is buried in a menu system. This is a minor issue for some, but for others like me, it’s a big deal; hard buttons work better. When you are bouncing around on a trail than trying to hit a non-tactile non-permanent icon if can be frustrating, especially if you have to access it several layers deep.

All the GX’s off-road related hard buttons are strategically located in one place well within reach. You want to know where the rear differential setting is? Right there where you rest your hand. When you push it, it comes on, when you push it again, it goes off.  In contrast, the DEFENDER’S  Terrain Response System manages center and rear lockup states for the drive and I guess you just hope it knows what it’s doing; You can alter these settings manually but you have to do it via a menu system.  

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The GX’s control setup is, in my view, downright elegant.

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Both my 80 series and GX are pretty old school by comparison and feature the “triple lever” arrangement of handbrake, gear shifter, manual transfer case selection lever. The new GX550 is down to a single lever, with the handbrake replaced with an electronic parking brake and the low range selection handled by an electronic toggle switch.

While I don’t love electric parking brakes, it does at least work, which is not something you can say for all past Land Cruisers, and it does it’s thing in the background without much fuss. It’s fine and I could easily adapt to it. 

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I was worried I wouldn’t adapt as easily to the loss of my manual transfer case lever. In the past these electronic types of transfer cases have been slow, and disrupt the flow and ease of range selection I have with manual control. New for the GX550 is a transfer case that is not only stronger, but features a stronger shift actuation motor and central locking motor. Toyota claims 0.8 second shifts; that is fast enough for even impatient off-roaders like me.

To engage low range, simply stop, flick the transmission into neutral, push the range toggle down and back, and by the time your hand has come back to the shifter, the transfer case has shifted. Put it back in drive and go. I tested it several times and it was lighting fast in and out of low range. It sounds like a minor deal, but it goes a long way in building rapport with a car on the trail. This speed allowed me to go between low and high range several times on the group trail run without having to make the others in the convoy stop and wait. It works great.

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All models come with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. In low range you can use them to select gears, but it wont hold gears for you unless you also move the stick into “M” on the console. Once you are in manual, you can choose a gear and it will hold to redline. The granulairty/control that the 10 speed offers is excellent.

The transmission locks you out of overdrive ratios in low range, limiting you to only seven speeds. One thing I found missing, however, was a way to force the car to start in 2nd gear. I have found that this is a helpful feature for when you want to stay in low range, but not have the extreme reduction of 1st low which can be jarring. Non-Overtrail trims receive a button for this, but the Overtail loses it in favor of other off-road buttons.

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On the topic of faster shifts, Toyota fans will be happy to hear that a new design for the rear differential reduces differential lock engagement time significantly compared to outgoing models. It can still be somewhat finicky, but any differential lock that uses locking collars will need to have the collars mostly aligned to go in and out. I tested it a few times and it was much better than the locker in the Tacoma and my Land Cruiser.

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The differential has been one weak spot in past GX models. The Overtrail’s larger 9.5 inch unit with four-pinion carrier should have no trouble compared to the outgoing 8.2 inch two-pinion unit. In addition, the axle housing has been strengthened and is closer to the bigger Land Cruiser 300 in size. The front axle has also been upsized to the 8.66 inch unit.  This is considered a Land Cruiser for durability standards according to Tsukasaki, and the reputation that comes with it is hardly worth debating in this regard. Time will tell.

Incredible Comfort On The Trails

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I mostly love my 80 series. There are a few times I don’t. It’s fine on the road, but its lack of power, noise, wandering solid axle front end, and weak brakes can make for long days on the highway. While its demanding nature on road leaves me slightly fatigued, it’s long days on the trail that can really wear you out. Mid and large impacts are swallowed up by the foot of travel in the all coil suspension, but high frequency bumps are crudely translated through the solid axle’s higher unsprung mass.

The suspension articulation on the 80 is superior to just about anything in its class, but it can induce head toss and a lot of lateral acceleration that is hard on the neck all day. You can remedy this by removing the front sway bar, but then on-road handling suffers.  This is the nature of the technology of its day and it makes it both great and terrible.

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Credit Andrew P Collins

The GX550 Overtrail solves these problems, and it could be one of the most comfortable touring vehicles you can buy. On the road, you expect a premium Lexus to drive nicely, and it does. While that usually comes at a cost for off-road performance, it doesn’t here, or at least they’ve mitigated it greatly. Offroad, the stiffer coils handle mid range and large impacts far better than the old GX while losing only a little small bump compliance. The suspension feels deeper and events near the bottom of travel are progressive. It’s not a magic carpet like my GX470, but it wont blow through all its travel on a surprise dip and harshly bottom like the 470 does, either. The Overtrail’s Automatic Variable Suspension (AVS) manages damping on the fly and rounds off the edges on bumps, but even the standard suspension on low profile tires felt planted and eager for dirt.

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The real magic though, is eKDSS. Bridging the gap between having exceptional on and off-road performance in the same vehicle has always been the challenge, and with KDSS Toyota came close, with eKDSS I think they finally made it. Off-road the system selectively couples or uncouples the front and rear sway bars independently and can be firm or soft as needed. In large cross-axle events (i.e. where the terrain is quite uneven), the system acts as if it’s not only disconnected the sway bar, but is actively trying to push wheels apart to keep the body level.

At other times, the system keeps the bars fully engaged to limit body roll. It makes everything feel deliberate, and the terrain feels tamer than it looks. Lateral accelerations are so well controlled, and I’ve never been in an off-road vehicle that is as effective at quelling head toss. The body stays level and composed in a way that would be impossible with traditional suspension technology. The new Land Cruiser 250, which shares this platform will forgo eKDSS for a front sway bar disconnect, and that’s a shame. I feel this system is as magic as it is misunderstood and I would love to do a deep dive on it sometime.

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If you aren’t used to seeing independent suspension “flex,” eKDSS on the new GX is amazing. That front wheel is stuffed like I’ve never seen before on a stock Toyota/Lexus. Front to rear flex balance is outstanding. Not only does it increase the total flexibility, but eKDSS allows the GX550 to glide over terrain such that it makes me question the superiority of the 80 series, and I hated writing that just now. 

And this is what makes the GX special in a sea of overland vehicles and trims: The way it treats you like a grown up and lets you stay in control, but also reduces the stress and fatigue on driver and passengers. I would be careful to say that it doesn’t make off-roading easy, but it makes it comfortable, and that is overlanding if you think about it. Why do folks take a rooftop tent? Comfort. Why take a fridge? Comfort. Seasoned overlanders know that buying things that improve ease and comfort, and not burdening your life and your vehicle with unnecessary frippery, is the path to happiness.

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However, if you’d like even more comfort, the seats are heated and cooled, the steering wheel is heated and optional roller massage seats are available. Hey, laugh about massaging chairs in an off-roader all you want, I don’t know any of my overland friends that would turn them down.

Can You Mod It?

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With TNGA-F being common to all new Toyota trucks, there should be a fair amount of interchangeability between models, and the aftermarket will no doubt be quick to support tinkering. Modification was actually a built-in design goal according to Tsukasaki. Coil springs were chosen instead of air suspension in the back partly because it presents an easier upgrade path, apparently. In the front, the unique Overtrail facia includes a section that is removable in case of damage or to fit a winch, lights or additional accessories. Toyota also has a new partnership program that lets you leave the showroom with all the overland jewelry you can wrap into a down payment, if you want to skip the middleman. 

What About Fuel Economy And Pricing?

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Be prepared to shell out at the dealer, though. Prices for the base Premium start at $64,250 + $1,350 destination, and climb to $81,250 + destination for the Luxury+. Overtrail starts at $69,250 + destination. It does seem the configuration tool is up on the site, so you can play around and find out for yourselves where your ideal model rests. Fun fact: you can “add” a moonroof delete and save $1100. My ideal Nori green overtrail came out to $68.555, including destination.

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It’s a lot, and it’s a pretty big price jump over the GX460, which ranged from $60,000 to $71,000. With the upcoming Land Cruiser 250 starting in the mid 50s, I think it makes sense. It sure would be nice to be able to order a “terrain package” on a base premium with all the off-road goodies, but I’m guessing the numbers can’t justify it.

On that topic, Lexus thinks they are going to be able to sell about 33,000 of these annually, and I think that’s conservative. People seem to love the look, and the increased utility and essential traits that have made the GX a winner have only gotten stronger in this generation. With its platform mate, the Land Cruiser J250 not yet on sale and the yet-to-be-seen 4Runner still on the horizon, the GX550 is the vehicle of the moment for the overlander. Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but it is a lot of machine. If I were cross-shopping in this price range, I would have a long hard think between this and an Ineos Grenadier. The Grenadier is a little closer to my 80 series, and has a few more hardcore features, and while I haven’t driven it, I’ve heard good things. After having driving the GX550, though, I just know I’d want the GX. Hands down.

As for fuel economy, it has always been the major flaw of the GX, and any Toyota truck if we’re honest. My 80 series gets 12/15, my GX470 gets 14/18, and the outgoing GX460 15/19. On paper, this appears to still be the case, as the GX550 scores 15 city, 21 highway and 17 combined. I couldn’t test fuel economy, but the car’s mpg history graph showed greater than 20 mpg averages around town. I think driven sensibly, it will be possible to at least achieve the EPA numbers, but that’s not saying much.

With a small 21.1 gallon fuel tank, the dismal range issue of the GX line appears to still be a thing. A hybrid is coming, but we don’t know much about it. It will either be the system from the Tundra that will boost power, or the system from the Tacoma/Land Cruiser that will boost economy.  

The New GX Is Legit

~p1211690

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Some cars give you the tingle the minute you sit in them, some never endear themselves to you even though they should. Some cars you can’t wait to get out of and some cars you want to hate, but you just can’t. The cars I fall in love with, though, are the ones that want you to get to know them. I’ve owned the same pair of Danner boots for many years, and they are my daily drivers. A good pair of boots fit well right from the box, and then go about quietly doing their job. Over the course of time and miles they break in and get even better. When the soles wear out you will resole them instead of throw them away. They’ve got plenty of life left. A decade later and you and your old boots have seen some things. I’m not saying I’ve cried throwing away old footwear, but I’m not NOT saying that.

Land Cruiser Heritage Museum owner Greg Miller has driven Land Cruisers on or over all seven continents as part of his E7 expedition. Of all the vehicles in the convoy, he tells me he was most attached to one he named Fernweh, after the German word that means a feeling of wanting to be there, out on an adventure. Wanderlust would be the closest translation. My 2008 GX and a trail is, for me, peak “Fernweh.”

And the new GX feels like it will be an easy machine to build a bond with just as I do with my old boots, and once that happens, I could see getting those exact same feelings of “Fernweh” when I think about it and an excellent off-road trail on a sunny day.

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TXpedition
TXpedition
17 days ago

Just wanted to stop by and say what a great review! You were right about not turning down the massaging seats, lol.
Most importantly, what did you have in your $40 Burrito?!?!

Space
Space
18 days ago

First, I think your Lexus looks better than the new one, I do get that the new trend is aggressive lines and creases but eh.
Second, when you say the third row seats are not easily removed what would be considered not easy? Like is it welded in or just bolted?
I’m wondering if you can swap some 3rd row seats into the overtrail trim, tap a few holes, run a wire for the switch and call it good.

Space
Space
18 days ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Looks to be a normal removal process but I agree more options is always better.

Jake Harsha
Jake Harsha
19 days ago

Great review.

I owned a 2006 GX470 and now own a 2016 GX460. I live in northern MN where the roads are generally shit all winter and I tow frequently (boat/camper/skid steer/motorcycles/snowmobiles/you name it). I also live in the woods and have a wife and two teen/preteen kids and feel like this is the perfect vehicle for my situation. I have owned several other Toyota trucks (80s pickup/T-100/Tacoma/Tundra) and I think my current GX460 hits the right combination of capability vs. versatility.

I mostly agree with most of what you said about the differences between the 470/460, however, I completely disagree about the barn door. I sit on the LEFT side of the vehicle. If I need something out of the back, I get out of the LEFT side of the vehicle and walk back on the LEFT side to grab it. If there’s a trailer hooked up (which there often is), I don’t want to have to walk all the way around or trip over the damned tongue! The door is high enough that it clears the tongue on every trailer I own (I have 6). Yeah, it doesn’t open completely, but PLENTY far enough to access anything in the back on all but my camper which has the stationary-post jack (although even then it opens enough to access the back easily and there’s always the window hatch if you need it) and a hatch would swing up and hit the post or the crank too leaving even poorer access to the cargo area. All of this gnashing of teeth about the door being “backward” is completely overblown garbage by city dwellers misusing this vehicle as nothing but a grocery getter.

I’m definitely interested in the GX500, but I have reservations about those high-strung turbos everyone’s gone to nowadays…

Jake Harsha
Jake Harsha
19 days ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

My garage is big. And I can see how the door could hit something on certain trailers that might be sticking up close enough to the back of the vehicle to hamper access, but like I said…it’s not a problem with any of the six trailers that I own.

Pancakeman!
Pancakeman!
21 days ago

Fantastic review. Like others, I’m a fan of a fan reviewing this type of vehicle. You can feel the excitement in his words!

Wet Sprocket
Wet Sprocket
21 days ago

I read about cars every day, but it’s pretty infrequent that I truly relish the read like I did here. You could not have done a finer job satisfying everything a fellow Land Cruiser enthusiast wants to know about this thing.

Split tailgate: yes, please
3 rows in overtrail trim: yes, please!

Someday my 200 series will give up the ghost and I need something to explore the world in with my 5 kids…

Waremon0
Waremon0
21 days ago

“Well, well well, look who finally discovered the profitability of overlanding.” This line made me laugh.

My coworker has a new Tundra and while he’s an old school guy with an 80, he said he liked the crawl control in lieu of lower TC gears for slow crawling. One thing I didn’t see was what the TC gears are. I’m assuming Toyota has stuck with about a 2.7:1.

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