New & Used Lexus GX: In Depth
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The Lexus GX is a spin-off of the same mechanicals that are found in the Toyota 4Runner SUV and in the now-discontinued FJ Cruiser. In the GX, Lexus combines that hardware with its own luxury fittings and features to create a vehicle that's even better in off-road driving than it is on-road.
The GX sells in lower volume than the perennial best-selling Lexus RX, and it's much smaller in footprint than the Lexus LX. Its few rivals include vehicles like the Land Rover LR4 and the Infiniti QX80.
MORE: Read our 2015 Lexus GX review
The 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.
With that resolved, the GX's safety-equipment list can be considered fleshed out. Standard items include active head restraints, a lane-departure warning system, and tire-pressure monitoring, which is now required on all vehicles. The GX also comes with a total of eight airbags: front, side, and curtain, as well as knee airbags for both front occupants. A system including front and side cameras is an option.
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.