In the 14 years since the Lexus GX 460 debuted, the overland and off-road communities have boomed. These once-niche players in the enthusiast space have grown to become mainstays, with OEMs producing trim levels, packages, and entire vehicles catering to the mud-splattered mania. The all-new GX 550 is here to capitalize on that momentum. It looks great.
The previous model is old enough to predate the Lexus spindle grille, which the brand committed to back in 2014. That new grille design was adapted to the GX, but clearly wasn't designed for it, with a gaping mouth wrapping an otherwise tame body. The new GX is designed around the grille, however, with a blocky, tall body mimicking the grille's severe angles. The GX also gets a new Overtrail trim designed for off-road duty, which—in addition to the two-tone paint color and bright skid plate—also gets 33-inch tires and a locking rear differential.
The GX also offers Lexus' Electronic-Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (E-KDSS) system. It's an electronic version of the hydraulic system in the previous GX, which allows the truck to effectively disengage its sway bar under articulation. This keeps road manners in check while providing increased maximum articulation. Adaptive variable suspension is also available, but thankfully not standard, which should make swapping out the suspension simpler than on the complex LX 600. The swing-out rear door is gone, replaced by a standard power liftgate. The liftgate glass can open separately, allowing for easier access.
This new GX shares its platform with its big brother, though. That also makes it a close sibling to the Toyota Sequoia and 300-Series Land Cruiser. A redesigned Land Cruiser Prado—the GX's international-market, utilitarian sibling—is inbound, with at least one rumor suggesting it could make it to the U.S.
Across this lineup of trucks, Toyota is downsizing and turbocharging engines, and the GX is no different. It trades the old 4.6-liter naturally aspirated V-8 for a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6. Note that though it is advertised as 3.4 liters in this application and 3.5 in the LX600 and Tundra, the engine is physically the same across the lineup. It's just a rounding difference.
Power climbs significantly from 301 horses in the GX 460 to 349 hp here. The torque gain is even larger: 479 lb-ft vs 329 lb-ft in the old model. This, combined with wheelbase and overall length increases of 2.36 and 2.75 inches, respectively, makes the GX a stronger tow rig, too. The 550 can lug 8000 lbs around on its hitch, up 1500 lbs from the last model. Full fuel economy figures aren't out yet, but the gain seems to be minor. Lexus says the new model will have a combined rating of 17 mpg, up from 16 mpg in the 460.
But the increased size has paid off in terms of hauling. Regardless of how many seats are folded or in place, you get more cargo room in the 550. The second row is easier to fold (or you can option captain's chairs), the door pockets are bigger, there are 12 cupholders, up to 6 usb ports, and an available 120-v power inverter. The center console is larger, too, and now offers a "Cool Box." It gets cold enough to keep meat and other perishables at the right temperature, the GX's chief engineer told Road & Track. The ancient infotainment system has been replaced by the new-generation version from the RX—a giant leap—and the latest suite of driver-assistance systems, including the semi-autonomous Lane Tracing Assist system for easy highway cruising.
The maximum approach, breakover, and departure angle are 26, 24, and 22 degrees on the GX 550 Overtrail, respectively, up from 21/23/1 in the previous model. The Premium trim has a slightly higher departure angle of 23 degrees, due to the larger spare tire that's mounted below the rear bumper of the Overtrail. The figures represent a marked improvement over the last GX, but it's still far behind competitors like the Land Rover Discovery. The Rover can handle 34-degree approaches, 30-degree breakovers, and 27-degree departures. Wranglers and Broncos trounce even those numbers.
A saving grace, however, is that the bumpers and supporting structure of the Overtrail feature multi-piece construction. That means that if you damage one part, you won't have to replace the whole front end, as is the case with many luxury off-roaders.
"We're using ladder frame construction. For us, we believe true off-roaders should be built on those kind of structures. With that, we get the off-road performance, reliability, and the durability that is required," GX Chief Engineer Koji Tsukasaki told Road & Track, through a translator.
That durability is the core of the GX appeal. It didn't earn a reputation by beating Wranglers out on the rocks, it built one by being the truck you want to take on 1000-mile overland journeys when it's 20 years old. Let's hope the new one lives up to that reputation.
Deliveries should start early next year. Pricing has not been announced.
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