New & Used Lexus GX: In Depth
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The Lexus GX is a luxury SUV that’s based on a truck platform. As such, it's one of an increasingly rare set of vehicles that are more adept off-road than they are on pavement.
A lower-volume vehicle that sits between the RX crossover and the full-size LX SUV in the Lexus lineup, the GX SUV shares its running gear with the Toyota FJ Cruiser and 4Runner models.
With Lexus luxury features ladled onto the truck underpinnings, the GX blends substantial off-road capability with reasonably comfortable open-road cruising.
MORE: Read our 2015 Lexus GX reviewThe first generation of Lexus GX was launched for the 2003 model year, offering Lexus buyers the legendary off-road capability and toughness of the Toyota 4Runner, now fitted with a thick layer of luxury features that included leather upholstery, wood trim, and of course the comforting Lexus showroom experience. That first 2003 Lexus GX 470 shared the same 4.7-liter V-8 engine that was fitted to the full-size LX sport utility, driving all four wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission.
The early GX also featured adaptive suspension with adjustable rollbars, to let the driver choose between on-road comfort and off-road agility. Although it was marketed as a three-row, eight-passenger vehicle, the third-row seat was notably small and far from practical over long distances for two adults--let alone three. Options in the early GX line included a Mark Levinson sound system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Launched for the 2010 model year, the latest version of the upright, bluff GX features a 301-horsepower V-8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Performance is only adequate, however; the Lexus GX is one tall, heavy vehicle. A variety of electronic systems supervise its off-pavement behavior, where it does surprisingly well, courtesy of standard adjustable roll bars; adaptive suspension and height adjustment for the rear shocks; various systems to control rock crawling and hill descents; and electronic simulation of a locking differential, using the anti-lock brakes.Soon after the 2010 launch of the second generation GX, Consumer Reports hit the truck with a rare "Do Not Buy" warning. The luxury truck's stability-control system didn't perform as expected during emergency maneuvers, producing heavy oversteer in certain situations. Toyota later discovered a flaw in the stability-control programming and issued a fix for the GX, which led the magazine to lift its embargo.
Safety equipment is ample otherwise. The GX comes with a lane-departure warning system, active headrests, and the now-mandated tire pressure monitoring system. A front and side-camera warning system is an option. Eight airbags are fitted: front, side, and curtain bags, plus knee airbags for both driver and front passenger as well.
The Lexus GX 460 was lightly refreshed for 2012, with additional chrome accents and body cladding, plus a new wheel finish in high gloss. Other changes through the 2015 model year have been minimal--save for the refreshed front end, which now wears the Lexus spindle grille.