The 2024 Lexus GX Kicks Ass 

With Land Cruiser bones, a powerful V-6, and excellent tech, the new Lexus GX550 is the off-roader of your dreams.

2024 Lexus GX Overtrail Off-Road Review 2024 Lexus GX Overtrail Off-Road Review

You wanted the new Lexus GX to be good. I wanted the new Lexus GX to be good. And folks, it is good.

The appeal of a Toyota truck has always been great off-road capability mixed with the sense it’ll outlast us all. Who doesn’t want that? In recent years, it seems everyone bought in. The Lexus GX, previously a niche luxury version of the small Land Cruiser, the Prado, has risen in profile to match the bigger Land Cruisers, 4Runners, Tacomas, and other rugged Toyotas. 

Toyota of late has become remarkably good at delivering exactly what enthusiasts want, and when Lexus dropped a brawny-looking off-roader with Land Cruiser bones and optional 33s, everyone kind of lost their minds. So we had to take it off-roading. 

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Quick Specs 2024 Lexus GX550 Overtrail
Engine Twin-Turbo 3.4-Liter V-6
Output 349 Horsepower / 479 Pound-Feet
Drive Type Four-Wheel Drive w/Low-Range
Base Price $69,250
As-Tested Price $71,620

Northeast Off-Road Adventures (NORA) in the quaint Catskills town of Ellenville, New York was the ideal venue. Just a two hours from Motor1’s New York City office, NORA considers itself a "training center" rather than a public network of trails—the 75-acre wooded property features tons of challenging terrain to pit against the Lexus.

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

This is the Overtrail version of the GX550, the most focused off-road trim available. (An Overtrail+ with extra luxuries is also available). Like all GX models, the Overtrail gets full-time four-wheel drive with a low-range gearbox and a locking center differential, but also adds a rear locker to the party. It gets Toyota’s clever Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) system, too, which optimizes traction for all sorts of different surfaces. There’s also Crawl Control, a sort of off-road cruise control, and E-KDSS, which can effectively disconnect the sway bars for greater suspension articulation. An array of cameras for surveying the trail surface are also standard. Plus, 33-inch Toyo mud-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, and skid plates. 

With approach, breakover, and departure angles of 26, 24, and 22 degrees, respectively, this is not the most-capable off roader you’ll see on paper. A Land Rover Defender on its air suspension has better angles. But the GX ably conquered everything asked of it, and we asked a lot. 

Alex Trager, our equally capable trail guide, took us on terrain he described as higher-level intermediate to low-level advanced, and the GX never missed a beat. We never even aired the tires down, just to see how the thing dealt with low-grip scenarios.

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Pros: Excellent Off Road, Excellent On Road, Promise Of Toyota-Truck Dependability

Engage the MTS system and traction is hardly an issue. You need to give the computers a bit of time to figure out what they’re dealing with, but after a second or two, they get it and start pulling various levers to get the truck moving. You can feel the system grabbing brakes, modulating engine torque, performing tricks to ease you forward.

On a few occasions, we had to do things the old-fashioned way. A little bit of left-foot braking helps prevent the truck from rocking back and forth when wheels are off the ground, and driver error on my part meant having to break out traction boards after getting high sided on a rock. But a lot of the time, I just had MTS and Crawl Control engaged. All I had to do was steer.

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

In the woods, you’re certainly conscious of the GX’s 197.0-inch length—K-turns were a bit more complicated in this than NORA’s two-door Wrangler, on hand as backup—but the Lexus’s 83.2-inch width is more manageable. Do remember, however, that the pronounced edges of the hood aren’t actually the corners of the truck; the fenders stick out a few inches more. 

Gone is the GX’s lovely old V-8 and in its stead sits a new 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6. I thought I’d miss the V-8, but the V-6 has more horsepower (349 vs 301) and way more torque (479 vs 329 pound-feet). The new mill also works well with the GX’s 10-speed automatic. The powertrain is calibrated well for off-road driving, allowing the driver to be super precise with how much torque they’re sending to the wheels. 

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Throughout our day off-road, I fell deeper in love with the GX. It’s probably too big to be called a mountain goat, but I couldn’t help but draw the comparisons as the truck scrambled up whatever terrain we threw at it. Rocks, steep hills, 30-degree grades, and of course, mud. 

It’s also the right mix of new- and old-school. MTS, E-KDSS, and Crawl Control do a lot of clever work to make off-roading approachable even for a relative novice like myself, but at the end of the day, the systems simply compliment the basic strength of this ladder-chassis, big-tired SUV.

Really, the limit was me. NORA’s “rock river” got my heart pumping quite a bit, trying to find the best line, then committing to it. The GX’s camera system helps a lot, but I often had to tell myself not to drive through the screen and look out at the real world. Unlike myself, though, the GX was within its comfort zone.

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Cons: Ride Is Sometimes Unsettled, Poor Fuel Economy, Transmission Occasionally Slow

I can’t help wondering if the GX’s biggest party trick is revealed on the pavement. For all its capability and toughness, it’s so refined. At low speeds, smaller road-surface imperfections are felt through the cabin as to be expected with a body-on-frame vehicle, but in all other scenarios, the GX550 is very luxurious.

In either Comfort or Normal mode, the adaptive dampers give a plush ride, and the big torque and smoothness of the V-6 make you forget all about the old Toyota V-8. Ten forward gears is probably too many, though, as you can be left hanging waiting for the transmission to select the right ratio during a downshift, yet fuel economy still isn’t great. Good luck getting beyond 20 mpg. (A hybrid version is coming).

The GX is remarkably quiet for something of this shape and size, and even the tread noise from the mud-terrain tires is suppressed. Interior materials and build quality are excellent as you’d expect from a Lexus, and while I do think Toyota’s new digital gauge cluster is overcomplicated, the infotainment system is anything but. Best is the low beltline, which provides great visibility, and a perfect spot to rest your arm with the windows down. A rare thing in modern cars.

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Even the steering is nice, well-weighted, and precise, with the right amount of self-centering. At the end of our off-roading fun, I hustled the GX up a mountain road to catch the sunset and it handled remarkably well. The unibody Land Rover Defender might be a bit nicer as a road car, but there’s less in it than you’d think. Then there’s the Toyota-ness of it all. This platform and drivetrain are relatively new, but we also know that Toyota builds its trucks to an extraordinarily high standard.

Maybe the most compelling argument against the GX is the new, upcoming Land Cruiser. It starts at $57,345 to the GX’s $64,250 and offers a hybrid drivetrain. But, the mid-grade Land Cruiser costs $63,345 and isn’t too dissimilar to the base GX in terms of equipment. And as of right now, Toyota has no equivalent to Lexus’s Overtrail trim. 

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

This tester cost a little under $72,000, and while that’s a lot of money, it’s around the same as equivalent Defenders and higher trims of Jeep Grand Cherokee. I think the choice here is obvious.

The GX550 Overtrail isn’t just good, it’s one of the most complete cars on sale today. It’s exactly what we wanted.

Photo: DW Burnett for Motor1

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2024 Lexus GX550 Overtrail
Engine Twin-Turbo 3.4-Liter V-6
Output 349 Horsepower / 479 Pound-Feet
Drive Type Four-Wheel Drive w/Low-Range
Transmission 10-Speed Automatic
Speed 0-60 MPH 6.5 Seconds
Maximum speed 109 Miles Per Hour
Weight 5,675 Pounds
Efficiency 15 City / 21 Highway / 17 Combined
Towing 9,096 Pounds
Payload 1,940 Pounds
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 45.6 / 90.5 Cubic Feet
Base Price $69,250
As-Tested Price $71,620
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