If there is one cool place in the world where the Lexus GX should be driven, it is the great Pacific Northwest. The off-road culture of this region is evident from the moment you hit the streets — I saw about a dozen Toyota 4Runners and Jeeps covered in mud during the 40-minute drive where we took delivery of the Lexus to south King County - an area with, admittedly, many more dirt roads that Seattle.
The Lexus GX is essentially a Toyota 4Runner (Toyota Prado, internationally) but better equipped and with the Lexus logos and Mt. Rainier — with its evergreens and amazing landscapes — it was our launch location for the 2020 GX. For 2020 the vehicle received a slight change in design, an off-road package and safety technologies as standard.
The most obvious upgrade to its design is the larger grille, which looks great on the GX. It gives the SUV much more presence on the road and lines up well with the triple LED headlights, which now come standard for the 2020 model. There is also a new Sport Design package that adds details to the grille frame, the side mirrors, and the 19-inch wheels.
Inside, the story is different. Although the GX received new premium materials, the technology and interior design look very old. The touch screen and its infotainment system look old, and the design of the center console reminds us of the cars of the past decade. But here we are right, as the current GX was launched in 2009 and has only received a few updates since then — most of them in its exterior design.
If you can ignore the old technology, the rest of the interior may interest you. The combination of the black leather with the black roof really stands out in the cabin. The Premium and Luxury models got new materials like wood and aluminum, which look luxurious and pair well with the red interior.
The leather in the cabin could be too much; most of the dash, door panels, and even the sides of the center console are fully upholstered. All three rows come standard for this SUV, and that third row can easily be folded down to deliver a totally flat floor for the trunk. The second row can also be folded, but it does not become completely flat, as the backrests are a bit uneven.
By the way, the new off-road package increases the capacity of the GX. It features the multi-terrain selector, which allows the driver to choose different driving modes depending on the terrain conditions — from mud and sand to stones and rocks. Lexus ensures that the system regulates braking and acceleration to control tire skidding.
The package also features a transmission cooler, gas tank guard, and a multi-terrain monitor and wide-view monitor, displaying the view from the front, rear, side, and under-vehicle cameras on the screen — this Last shows the view of the terrain and the location of the wheels under the vehicle. Although crawl control was available for the 2019 model year, the 2020 model includes it as part of the off-road package.
Under the hood, the GX received no changes: it still boasts the 4.6-liter V-8 engine that produces 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. During our drive we noticed that the transmission suffers from the same problems as the Tacoma — if you put the gearshift in drive, the entire body of the GX moves forward, even when you're hitting the brakes.
But once you get up to speed, the shifts get smoother and the cabin gets quiet. The V-8 makes a loud roar when you hit the gas and go up hills. The GX is clearly getting older by the day, but it has proven to be a durable vehicle — as have its cousins, the 4Runner and Prado.
Another addition for 2020 is the Lexus Safety System +, which comes standard on all trims. Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and high-speed cruise control with radar are part of the package.
Although these technologies are not on par with what we have seen in other modern SUVs, they are a notch higher compared to what we saw with the GX last year.
We hope to return to the Seattle area's Cascade Mountains soon to drive the 2021 Lexus GX and test the off-road package. And who knows — maybe we also bring a 4Runner.
Tried-and-True powertrain and chassis
Spacious and ergonomic interior
New forged BBS wheels
Old, dated Tundra architecture
Limited driver aids and infotainment compared to competitors
Engine: 4.6L V8
Drivetrain: Full time 4WD with Torsen LSD with electronic differential lock
Power: 301 hp
Torque: 329 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Comb.): 15/19/16 MPG
Curb Weight: 5,192 lbs Base Price: $53,100 Price as Tested: $72,010 (incl. dest.)