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.
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.