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Lexus GX 4x4 a maybe for Oz

Not yet confirmed for Aus, new Lexus GX off-roader previews next Prado’s hybrid tech

9 Jun 2023

ALTHOUGH Lexus Australia will not be drawn on the possibility of introducing the GX large off-road SUV here, the premium Japanese brand’s actions of issuing press material locally relating to the model suggest it could be on the cards for Australia. 


The likelihood seems stronger following the demise of a seven-seat version of the smaller RX and the appearance of a new generation, Toyota Prado-based Lexus GX, unveiled on June 9 at a world premiere where it was referred to as a ‘global’ model.


Expected to be built in right- and left-hand drive, the muscular new GX is aesthetically a radical departure from previous GX and other Lexus models with its boxy looks and a move away from the cowcatcher-size “spindle’ grille that has characterised the brand’s range for more than a decade.


If it was to go on the menu here, the GX would be in against premium off-road-capable competitors like Land Rover’s Defender and Discovery, or the now more upmarket Jeep Grand Cherokee L. It could also steal sales from parent brand Toyota given a likely price overlap with the bigger LandCruiser 300 Series.


Despite its off-road credentials, the GX would also square up to luxury soft-roaders like the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE to name just a few.


Of high interest are the GX’s two powertrains, with the choice a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine driving through a 10-speed automatic transmission and a  “first ever” hybrid powertrain for a body-on-frame Lexus vehicle in the form of a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol-electric combo with newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission.


The hybrid could well be adopted by the next Toyota LandCruiser Prado, which like previous Lexus GX iterations is likely to be closely related from a chassis and mechanical perspective.


Both GX powertrain options are linked to a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer case and locking centre differential.

Neatly filling a gap between the Lexus RX and LandCruiser 300-based LX, the new seven-seat GX line-up will offer a broad mix of performance and occupant carrying flexibility that Lexus says will “spark the spirit of outdoor adventure”.

It has been a staple in North America for more than two decades and has been tailored for that market with a visual toughness “worthy of an adventure-focused SUV” coupled with sensible off-roading proportions and a rugged design.

The muscular looking new GX has more of a squared off look to its flanks with a downsized grille that retains a spindle shape but is more subtle, black and practical.


Its LED headlights closely resemble those of the larger LX and are framed by L-shaped daytime running lights. Below these lights are grille openings extending downwards to flow cooling air to the radiators.

The wide bonnet features a concave centre channel common to Lexus and Toyota 4x4 models, which Lexus says also “improves forward visibility”.

Evident from all angles is influence from the North American market, particularly the flanks where the model’s off-road intent is clear from the high bonnet line, A-pillars pulled more upright, a vertically oriented tailgate and a 2850mm wheelbase.

A single LED light strip runs across the width of the tailgate with 'LEXUS' lettering and compact combination tail lamps. The tailgate also features opening glass for easy access to the cargo area.

Inside, the GX exhibits a modern cabin design Lexus says is “based on the Lexus Tazuna concept of human-centred design; with steering wheel switches seamlessly paired with the head-up display, and a clean, horizontal/vertical dashboard layout enhancing the driver's perception of vehicle posture off road”.

A 14-inch centre display uses a combination of touchscreen and buttons to control the multimedia system, within which Lexus says an emphasis on the size, shape, layout and displayed information during the design process results in a more intuitive user experience.

Lexus says the vehicle’s centre console is designed with off-roading in mind, with drive mode and other relevant switches placed in close proximity to the driver.

The GX will be offered in some markets with the choice of second-row bench or captain's chairs configurations, while the third row provides two more seats that can be electrically stowed into the floor.

Underneath the new GX is a version of the GA-F ladder-frame architecture that underpins the larger LX, LandCruiser 300 and upcoming off-roaders from the Toyota-Lexus empire.

Supple, off road capable suspension uses a high-mount double-wishbone set-up at the front with “fine-tuned” coil spring rates and increased caster trail and minimised king pin offset to promote stability during straight-line driving, cornering and braking.

The rear is a four-link rigid axle with lateral control arms boasting optimised wheel articulation for off road.

Adaptive variable dampers are fitted front and rear with independent telescopic valves and friction control modules.

The GX’s proportions facilitate a 26-degree approach angle (up by five degrees compared to the previous GX) while front overhang is reduced by 20mm comparatively.

An adventure-focused special five-seat Overtrail variant has been confirmed for the US which adopts exclusive functional and design features “essential for a rugged off-road vehicle”.

These include the E-KDSS suspension system for the first time on a Lexus, offering independent control of the front and rear electric stabilisers to further improve wheel articulation and grip in off-road conditions.

Overtrail also gains Multi-Terrain Select acting on drive and suspension control to offer six drive modes (Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow and Rock) for improved performance on all surfaces.

Crawl control offers five low-speed settings allowing drivers to traverse uneven terrain without operating the accelerator or brakes, while Downhill Assist Control automatically and independently adjusts the hydraulic pressure of each wheel brake when descending steep slopes.

Adding further to the Overtrail model’s off road appeal is a multi-terrain monitor using cameras mounted on the front, sides and rear to display high-definition images of the vehicle's surroundings including underneath the vehicle floor, helping the driver accurately position the wheels and avoid unforeseen obstacles.

The new gen GX has a full suite of Lexus Safety System + active safety technologies.

GX Chief Engineer Koji Tsukasaki said the all-new GX allows urban families the opportunity to expand their active outdoor lifestyles more than ever before.

"The aim of the new GX is to create a Lexus off-roader that symbolises the central core of authentic Lexus off-roading. It is not just a model change, but a game changer that turns a new page for Lexus.

"It has been thoroughly developed for driving on all kinds of terrains, from winding roads to rocky, dirt roads all over the world. However, you don't have to push the limits all the time with this vehicle," Mr. Tsukasaki said.

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