Car review: Lexus brings joy to drivers who seek adventure

This year’s GX550 is redesigned, refined.

One trend (post-pandemic) in the auto industry is the automotive consumer’s urge to get off the beaten path. The craze may have quieted down a little bit, but that exact consumer is someone automakers are still pursuing. So it only made sense for Lexus to finally update the GX model.

Enter my tester for the week, the 2024 Lexus GX550, a vehicle that shares the same platform with the Toyota Land Cruiser. Lexus says in its marketing materials that the redesigned GX was designed to inspire customers to pursue their urge to travel, take an unpaved path, and revel in the joy of driving.

The joy of driving. I love that. So many of today’s vehicles are sterile, lacking personality and offer little to no joy behind the wheel. Having spent a week, albeit on the road in normal weather conditions, I can say the GX550 is enjoyable.

On looks, the GX550 looks completely new and thanks to the complete redesign. And, yes, it shares the platform with the Land Cruiser; it does also share some resemblance with that vehicle. In my book that’s a good thing as I’ve always liked the stout appearance of the Land Cruiser.

Now imagine a Land Cruiser with more refinement and that’s the GX550. The cladding that is so notorious with Lexus dominates the front. It’s a big aggressive grille. The squinty headlights seem a bit out of place for an off-road style vehicle, but that’s probably because we are so used to Jeep’s bigger headlights. In actuality the narrow headlights really help complete the look of the front end.

In the Overtrail trims (which my tester was) has an attractive dual-tone exterior color combination that adds a lot of personality to this SUV.

The back end looks familiar to that of the Land Cruiser or one of its competitors the Land Rover. Those are both compliments as while the GX550 is updated and thoroughly modern now, it doesn’t want to pretend to be something else.

This is an off-road, overlanding vehicle as evidenced by the 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which replaces the previous V8 powertrain of the first generation GX. This might seem like a power downgrade but the V6 produces 349 horsepower, outperforming the previous generation V8′s 301 horsepower, and torque output also rises to a massive 479 lb.-ft.

Towing capacity has increased to up to 9,063 lbs. for Premium and Premium+ grades and 9,096 lbs. for the Overtrail grade with the standard tow hitch.

There’s a 10-speed automatic transmission standard, as is four-wheel drive (4WD).

Where the GX500 separates from the Land Cruiser is in the interior refinement and materials. The interior is full of fine touchpoints and luxury as you’d expect from the Lexus brand. Lexus has made big improvements in its technology and infotainment systems. Replacing the clunky touchpad that wasn’t very driver focused with one that is far more intuitive. The lower, horizontal instrument panel design carries into the dash for a simplified driver and passenger seat experience.

The seven-passenger interior benefits from the tall roofline with ample headroom for all passengers. The second row is available as a 60/40 bench configuration or Captain-style seats. In this configuration the leg and shoulder room is amazing.

The third-row seat is comfortable and easier to get into than the previous generation was. Still tall adults would be less-than-comfortable back there.

Behind the third-row there’s 10.3 cubic feet of cargo. That seems small, but it benefits the third-row passengers comfort. If you need more cargo, the third row can fold flat for 40.2 cubic feet of space. The Overtrail trim has even more cargo room with 46.2 cubic feet of space.

There are six trims including: Premium, Premium +, Luxury, Luxury +, Overtrail and Overtrail +. My tester was the Overtrail and had an MSRP of $69,250. When compared to Land Rover or even a top-of-the-line Land Cruiser, this is a competitive price.

The EPA rating for this behemoth is 15 mpg/city and 21 mpg/highway. Note: There is a hybrid version coming which should see a big bump in these numbers.

On the road or off the road, the Lexus GX550 shows a big (emphasis on big) step forward in the luxury overlanding market for Lexus. If this overlanding craze continues, then the GX550 is a real contender in this segment.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2024 Lexus GX550 Overtrail

Price/As tested price................................................ $69,250/$69,250

Mileage.......................................... 15 mpg/city; 21 mpg/hwy

Engine............................................. 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6

Horsepower................................. 349 hp/479 lbs./ft.

Transmission................................. 10-speed automatic

Drive Wheels................ Four-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point................ Tahara, Japan

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