The Lexus GX 550 Cradles You in Luxury, On or Off-Road

The redesigned–finally!–2024 Lexus GX 550 sits at the corner of luxury and off-road, but if the trail isn't quite your tempo, this luxe 3-row SUV is great for families, too.

Lexus Gx 550.
I love the looks of the new Lexus GX 550. Photo: Connie Peters

Attention Thrillseekers and Carpoolers: Your Lexus GX 550 Has Arrived

It’s long been a powerful favorite among off-roaders who want a luxury ride for the daily drive: The Lexus GX, which competes in off-road rallies around the globe, is the go-to for drivers who tow boats, race cars and snowmobiles – as well as those who merely haul kids to school, sports and family vacations. With 13 years since its last major redesign, it was exciting to see what Lexus added to this popular 3-row SUV and what the company improved for its off-roading fan base.

To get the full experience, we took the 2024 Lexus GX 550 on and off the pavement in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. Since I had not driven the previous iteration of this luxury 2 or 3-row SUV, I went in without expectations. I brought only the reputation and my own memories with this luxury carmaker’s other offerings. I was excited to develop a fresh opinion with no preconceptions.

My verdict? I’m taken aback at how one car, a luxury family SUV, can feel so abundantly luxurious and cocoon-like and yet perform off-road the way it does.

For the much needed redesign, and it’s a beautiful one, Lexus added new technology. A new multilmedis system includes “Hey Lexus” voice activation, a fully redesigned touchscreen and cloud-based navigation (which requires a subscription). Overall, the Lexus GX is an upscale 2 or 3-row SUV for buyers who may also want to venture off the pavement from time to time.

There are three trim levels – Premium, Luxury and Overtrail – and each has a “+” level that adds even more features, such as power folding seats on the Premium + or a cool box in the Luxury + model. And even if you’re just driving to the cabin, you can tow your boat, tackle gravel roads, and fit everyone’s gear inside, too.

Related: Lexus LS 500 F Sport: After These Driving Thrills, I Won’t Get Fooled Again

Lexus Gx 550

Lexus GX 550 Overtrail in Earth; let’s go off-roading. Photo: Connie Peters

Improved Visibility From the Driver’s Seat

One of the biggest areas of focus in the GX is visibitily: This is a large SUV and visibility can be an issue, so Lexus’s engineers focused on making visibility easier. Not only are the dashboard and multimedia screen now a long, flat horizontal dashboard with no screen peeking up above, but there is a surround view camera system on all but the base-level Premium model.

And then, for off-roaders, Lexus added a lower hood for better visibility and creased hood lines that act as guidelines that line up with the front wheels so you can place your wheels on your target trail – something Ford Bronco added much to the joy of its drivers.

Related: Why the Lexus RX 350h Could Be Your Forever Car  

Lexus Gx 550

The Lexus GX 550 Premium+ in stunning Nightfall Mica. Photo: Connie Peters

What’s Powering this Luxurious Beauty

The Lexus GX 550 is powered by a 3.4L twin turbo V6 with 349 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, which is more powerful than the outgoing model. It feels really substantial, and I had the opportunity to drive it on highways, in residential areas, hills, mountains, and off-road conditions.

Lexus says the new 10-speed transmission is its smoothest yet, and while I haven’t driven the previous GX, it delivered a very smooth ride.

The GX can tow quite a bit based on which trim you’re looking at. Keep in mind that the Premium through Luxury+ trims are three rows, and the Overtrail and Overtrail+ trims are 5-seat configurations.

  • Premium: 9,063 lb
  • Premium+: 9,041 – 9,063* lbs
  • Luxury: 7,844 – 8,020* lbs
  • Luxury+: 7,601 – 7,800* lbs
  • Overtrail: 9,096 lbs
  • Overtrail+: 9,063 lbs

These towing capacities mean all the toys are coming with you wherever you’d like to go.

Related: You Got This: Everything You Need to Know about Towing 

Lexus Gx 550

Premium+ will be the bestseller trim in the Lexus GX 550. Photo: Connie Peters

The Premium+ Trim is One to Get

If you’re not planning to do any true hardcore off-roading, the Premium+ is all-around the perfect choice. With all of the interior luxury you want and excellent towing capacity (just as much as the Overtrail), a bench seat in the second row makes it a 7-seater and, of course, includes a fantastic interior.

That visibility I talked about earlier is the same in all trims, with a clear digital driver display and a huge 14” media touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Something to keep in mind is that having two child car seats in the second row may mean the third row is almost inaccessible, however, as the second row seats fold and flip forward and are not on rails, so getting in to the third row with kids in the second seems difficult. If you go up to the Luxury trim, you’ll get second-row captain chairs allowing access to the third row through the pass-through in between the two seats, however, over a console.

The third row is power folding, so you could fold one seat down to get into the other through the back liftgate door.

The seats are NuLuxe trimmed, which is Lexus’ faux leather but feels like real leather to me. The front driver and passenger have climate-friendly heated and ventilated seats. In the second row, two outboard seats get heating, as well as their own climate control.

There are six USB ports throughout the GX, two in each row, in all trims.

Some additional cost options we had on our tester include the Cold Package with windshield wiper de-icer, headlamp washers, fast-response interior heat, head-up display, digital key (requires subscription), tonneau cover (a privacy shade for cargo area) and Traffic Jam Assist (read more about Safety features below).

Lexus Gx 550 Overtrail. Photo: Connie Peters

Offroading was lots of fun in the Lexus GX 550 Overtrail. Photo: Connie Peters

What Makes the Luxury+ Trim So Luxe

Take a step up to the Luxury+ trim, and you get power running boards, a rearview camera mirror, semi-aniline leather seats, captain chairs in the second row, and a Mark Levinson sound system that is amazing. Sound systems mean a lot to me, as driving for sheer joy while listening to my favorite songs is one of my favorite things to do.

The fixed glass panoramic roof in the Luxury+ also has a button to change it from clear to fogged or smoked glass and also a sun shade to close it completely.

You also get massaging front seats in the Luxury trims, which may be reason alone to step up to the highest grade.

Lexus Gx 550

Articulation offroad in the Lexus GX 550 with Overtrail+ trim. Photo: Connie Peters

Taking the Lexus GX 550 Off-Road in the Overtrail Edition

If you want even more adventure and more mud than gravel, the Overtrail is for you, though you’ll need to stick to 5 passengers in that trim; it is not offered in a 3-row configuration (at least not right now). The Overtrail and Overtrail+ are buyers who want to do serious off-roading. It has a standard skid plate (available on other trims), off-road tuned suspension, beefy 33″ all-terrain tires surrounding 18″ alloy wheels, locking rear and center differentials, Multi-Terrain Select off-road drive modes and Crawl Control for off-road cruise control.

We put the Overtrail trim to the test on a course and trails at the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, and the GX did not disappoint.

Watch some of our articulation and hill climb and descent in our video.

Lexus Gx 550

The Lexus GX 550 has a flat dashboard and an amazing backup camera. Photo: Connie Peters

Safety is a Standard Feature

All trims of the Lexus GX 550 come with Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 with:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and intersection support
  • Road sign assist (displays traffic signs)
  • Lane-keeping
  • Adaptive cruise control by radar, including curve speed management
  • Lane departure warning and steering assist
  • Intelligent high beams
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

Available for $620 USD, city folks might appreciate the optional Traffic Jam Assist, which includes front cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, and driver attention monitoring.

Lexus Gx 550

2024 Lexus GX 550 is boxier and better. Photo: Connie Peters

Which Lexus GX 550 Will You Choose?

So now the only question is: Are you going to go for the Luxury package, or do you need Lexus off-road chops? Pricing for the Lexus GX 550 starts at $64,250 for the Premium Trim, $69,250 for the Premium+ and Overtrail trims, and $81,250 for the Luxury+ trim package. Both the Luxury and the Overtrail+ trims we drove are priced at $77,250.

I believe most buyers will go for the Premium+ trim, which offers a lot of features and, yes, value, at $69,250. And I believe there will be a lot of buyers. There are many choices in the luxury 3-row SUV category, but Lexus shines bright with this one, especially in the versatility department.

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Connie Peters is a mother of 3 girls in suburban Vancouver, Canada and has been an online entrepreneur since... More about Connie Peters