First Test Drive of the 2024 Lexus GX: Getting out of Oblivion

Tucson, Arizona- The current Lexus GX has been largely forgotten by luxury SUV buyers in Canada. Lexus claims to have no problem selling all the GX models it puts on the market here, but that only amounted to just over 600 units last year, while Land Rover sold over 2,000 Defenders. In other words, I saw more previous generation GXs on the road in Arizona in three days than I have seen in the last three years on the roads of Quebec. This situation will change this year with the launch of the redesigned 2024 Lexus GX.

The rarity of the GX on our roads is not a reflection of the product’s quality. Introduced in its current form in 2013, the GX has always been known for its off-road capabilities and, of course, for Lexus’s renowned reliability. The Defender can only aspire to that level of reliability. Its robust V8 engine, if properly maintained, can last for decades, and its off-road capabilities have never been in doubt.

The issue was rather that when it comes to an SUV approaching $100,000, the competition is stiff. Buyers in this segment, especially those interested in a high-end luxury off-road-focused SUV, tend to want the latest model with the latest gadgets. That wasn’t the case with the last GX. The 2024 Lexus GX corrects this.

Everything is new in the 2024 Lexus GX

The GX is new in every way. It now comes with a brand new twin-turbo V6 powertrain, more powerful and with significantly higher torque compared to the outgoing V8. With 349 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, it surpasses the eight-cylinder by 48 horsepower and 150 pound-feet. Even though, for some, a V8 has no equal, this new engine is better in every way.

Not only is it smoother, but it also reacts much quicker than the outdated V8, while being considerably more efficient despite the new GX’s rather irregular aerodynamics. It can also tow up to 8,000 pounds in most GX versions, while the Overtrail model can tow up to 9,000 pounds. The new GX thus boasts the best towing capacity in its segment, which alone should attract a stream of curious potential buyers to Lexus dealerships.

The interior is also entirely new. However, if you have recently sat in another Lexus vehicle, you may find that there is nothing particularly standout in terms of design. The last GX had a massive and cluttered center console, with a ton of buttons here and there, which matched well with its adventurous and somewhat unrefined personality. It was also different from all other Lexus products. The GX loses some of that uniqueness with an interior style borrowed from the recently redesigned RX and the brand-new TX.

Nevertheless, there is nothing to fault in the layout, ergonomics, or user-friendliness of the Lexus multimedia system. From easy-to-use voice controls to large buttons and a massive screen, the infotainment system inside the GX is certainly easier to use than most other SUVs in the segment.

The space is ample for passengers in the front and middle rows, while the third row is surprisingly accommodating in terms of legroom and headroom. An adult can sit there and even spend a few hours without issue. Of course, this means that apart from a laptop bag, you won’t be able to bring much else with you. The cargo space behind the third row is indeed minuscule, with less than a foot of width between the third row and the standard power tailgate.

This tailgate, by the way, now opens traditionally, not sideways, which will delight all those who regularly parallel park in the city. On the other hand, if you fold down the third row, the GX confirms its versatility. Three-row models also have an additional ledge caused by the storage space for the sixth and seventh seats, and this space adds about 6 inches of extra height that you need to clear. The cargo space is already quite tall, so if you plan to regularly place bulky items there, it would be good to check if you will have any issues with that.

The only criticism one can make of the Lexus GX in terms of versatility is that the interior space is vast and generous. The seats are comfortable and the full range of the 2024 GX offers a multitude of equipment. Notable features include massaging seats, 22-inch wheels on the Executive version, and the 21-speaker Mark Levison audio system. Most GX models come with 7 seats as standard, while Overtrail off-road models have 5 seats.

The top-of-the-line Executive version features six seats, including two captain’s chairs in the middle row, with a cupholder between them. The good news is that this cupholder can be removed if needed, freeing up access to the third row.

Impressive off-road capabilities remain

Lexus tells us that there is a huge aftermarket market for used GX models over five years old. These models are modified by off-road enthusiasts to make them even more rugged and capable far off the beaten path. We believe them, and if we were to pick a used SUV to modify for the toughest off-road trails, we would probably choose a GX, if only for its reliability.

Off-roading has always been part of the GX’s mantra and DNA, and the new model is superbly capable when the road fades away. To say that we did intense off-roading with the GX would be an exaggeration. We did the usual off-camber bumps, sharp angle turns, and ridiculous climbs only in crawl mode, but the course was pre-built and certainly suited for the GX. I won’t fault Lexus for that, as there was really no point in having us climb up the Grand Canyon.

The GX, with its set of advanced off-road technologies, will be able to go just about anywhere a Defender or Mercedes-Benz G-Class will go. One of the highlights of this new technology is Lexus’s Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (E-KDSS). This is an enhanced version of the mechanical KDSS system offered in the last GX 470. However, the idea of the new electronic system is the same. When the system detects a loss of contact between a wheel and the ground, it activates and adjusts the stabilizer bars to ensure independent movement between the wheels and better control.

Unfortunately, as most owners will not take their GXs further than the dirt road leading to their lakeside cottage, this impressive off-road capability will be largely theoretical. Nevertheless, know that the new generation of GX, like the old one, does not force you to wonder for too long whether it can handle the terrain.

Impressive comfort on the road

What most potential GX buyers might find interesting is that this off-road capability does not compromise comfort and refinement as much as I would have thought. The Overtrail models are noticeably noisier, with tire rumblings constantly penetrating the cabin, and you will hear a constant flow of small rattles when going over bumps, which is the hallmark of any body-on-frame SUV.

However, I find that the GX is more refined than the Defender, which is also quite noisy and vibey. The GX also manages to better isolate the driver from road irregularities. Some of this comfort comes from the Adaptive Variable Suspension found in the top-of-the-line Executive version. Flawlessly, the AVS system does an excellent job of adapting to the road, controlling unwanted movements, and keeping refined what should be a rigid and uncomfortable SUV. The new GX is not an RX or a TX, but for a vehicle as rugged, the comfort is more than acceptable and even surprising.

As mentioned earlier, it is undeniable that the twin-turbo V6 outperforms the outgoing V8 in every way. It is much quieter, delivers power much more linearly with an exemplary torque curve that remains at its peak for almost 2,000 rpm. Additionally, the 9,000-pound towing capacity in Overtrail models (8,000 pounds in most GX models) is a clear selling point that will help Lexus move a significant number of GXs. No other luxury SUV in this segment can do better.

The previous generation Lexus GX had become a forgotten model rarely, if ever, seen on the road. On the other hand, the model had many admirers. What Lexus has managed to do with the 2024 model is to preserve the essence of what the GX has always represented, improving it with modern technologies, a much more refined engine, more interior comfort, and a style that doesn’t go unnoticed. Like the current GX, Lexus will sell all the units put on the market. The difference is that the demand will be much higher.

The text Premier essai routier Lexus GX 2024 : Sortir des oubliettes comes from L’annuel de l’automobile – Actualité automobile