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It looks too nice to be this rugged and yet, it is

Good stuff

Clean and modern exterior, neatly assembled interior, punchy and responsive

Bad stuff

Painfully small third row, performance falls short of sporty, all the good bits are top-trim exclusives

Overview

What is it?

It’s the new Lexus GX, and when we say “new” we really mean it. From top to bottom, the GX has been greatly overhauled in a way that’s best described as refreshing.

You’ve seen the pictures already but the new boxy design is a big departure from the curvaceous and dated look of the outgoing iteration. It’s now sharp and rugged while still presenting a level of luxury befitting all Lexii.

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On top of that, the GX can back up the hard exterior with actual overlanding capability.

Is boxy good now?

In this case, yes. Given how long-lived Lexus models are, they tend to fall behind in the design department as the years drag on. Time will tell but hopefully this purposeful approach to the GX’s style gives it longer legs in the looks department.
It’s quite Land Cruiser-y, though.

Naaah. Well, okay, yes. A bit. Both are body-on-frame and built on the GA-F platform, which is lighter and more rigid than the previous one, not to mention similar in design (thank you, Prado). This is pretty much where the similarities end, though. When the Land Cruiser arrives, it’ll have a different powertrain layout, fewer horses to play with, and will cost slightly less. Related to the latter, it’ll be more knockabout-ready, too.

So why get the GX instead of waiting for that then? 

Hey, we’re not the boss of you, we’re just spitballing here. There are a few things that might make the GX more appealing though. For one, it’s got a bit more baked-in elegance both on the outside and inside. The front still has Lexus-y design cues, though they look more TRON-ed out than before. Inside the cabin, the layout is cleaner and more stylish as opposed to the Toyota’s chunkier-looking equipment.

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Under the hood, the GX houses a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 that’s lighter and more capable than the outgoing V8. It whips up 340hp and 479lb ft of torque, which is sent to its active 4WD system by way of a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Can it actually off-road?

If you so choose, the Lexus GX is set up to overland to your heart’s content and there’s even a specific Overtrail trim for just that purpose. Full-time 4WD with open front and rear differentials, a limited-slip center diff and two-speed transfer are all on hand to put power to where it needs to be. An adaptive variable suspension is available to do as the name implies with the different drive modes. The Overtrail also brings a multi-terrain select system for tackling a number of surfaces.

Overtrail, huh? Say more.

Sure. The Overtrail model gets the selectable terrain modes and also 33-inch tires on eight-inch wheels, slightly elevated bumper corners, wider wheel track and black arch moldings. There’s also an aluminum skid plate added on to protect the car’s sensitive underbits. You can also expect hill descent assists and a bunch of cameras pointed at the ground to help spot as you roll over rocks in your luxury vehicle.

What's the verdict?

The turbocharged engine is snappy and engaging, and we don’t miss the V8 much at all… which sounds blasphemous

This might have to do with how much time we spend in front of a computer typing all this, but the GX’s shift in design feels like going from a serif font to a utilitarian sans serif typeface. Fundamentally, it conveys the same message, but the new GX’s look does so in a more direct manner: this is a utility vehicle with rugged capability while also being luxurious. Only now, it does so in cleaner lines without the extra flair.

And while it feels like we’re banging on about the looks a bunch, it’s because they’re quite indicative of all the changes underneath. The turbocharged engine is snappy and engaging, and we don’t miss the V8 much at all, which sounds blasphemous to say. Pair that with very communicative steering and handling and the GX feels light on its feet, with just a bit of springiness to remind you that this is built for utility as well as fun.

There are a number of affluent off-roaders peddling their services as a luxury off-roader that the GX will contend with. The Defender 110 is certainly up there in terms of style and actual terrain traversal ability. On the street, BMW’s X5 would be the sportier choice. There is also Mercedes’ GLE, though we’d sooner walk than even think to take that off the pavement. There’s still much to learn about the Lexus GX’s staying power, but if previous generations are anything to go by, it might win out in rivalries just by outliving the rest.

The Rivals

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