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Toyota & Lexus are on fire. They have serious momentum, not only in their new lineups, but also in their leadership. And it shows. Toyota & Lexus have a clear sense of identity in an automotive age where most competitors have lost theirs… along with their spines. And to that point, the new Lexus GX 550 design is courageous, cutting edge, and capable… especially in this modern sea of total SUV/CUV sameness.

Lexus GX 550 blue

Lexus GX 550

Lexus GX 550 dash

From the driver’s seat… 

The Lexus GX 550 is sophisticated & luxurious, but not at the expense of authenticity or real-world capability. Its windshield is noticeably flat as it spans from edge-to-edge. And it’s accented by a nostalgic flat-top dash layout. In front of you, lies a bulgy rugged hood at each corner, but it smooths-out in the middle for what I assume is aerodynamics & visibility. It’s a neat design trick that helps give the GX 550 its squared-off aesthetic, while maintaining a certain level of efficiency. In your peripherals, you feel the bulkier vertically-designed sideview mirrors, and it harkens you back to an era where 4x4s & SUVs had purpose, and hadn’t yet become so sanitized, diluted, convenience-compromised, and forgettable.

GX 550 hood

GX 550 twin turbo

GX 550 dash

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How the Lexus GX 550 drives

The outgoing Lexus GX 460 ran a V8 with a 6-speed transmission, whereas the new GX 550 uses a twin-turbo V6 with a 10-speed transmission. The new engine/drivetrain significantly changes (improves) the GX driving experience. Commonly, when people think ‘V8’… they think ‘more power’. But the V8 in the outgoing GX 460 doesn’t feel especially crisp or vivacious. It does feel solid, durable, and built for survival. But it also drives a bit heavy, thirsty, laggy… especially with the 6-speed auto. 

The new GX 550, however, is a different animal. The twin-turbo V6 makes substantially more power. And when you pair it to the new 10-speed transmission, the GX 550 really surges up to speed effortlessly. I think that’s the biggest takeaway.

GX 550

GX 550

Volk Wheels

Quick backstory: Toyota & Lexus took a lot of heat over the last few years… 

For not being more unquestionably on board with full-scale EV adoption. They’ve consistently claimed that any/all avenues should be explored, but not rushed into. They acknowledge the fact that different customers have different wants, needs, and passions. And that hybrids are (and have been) a sustainable, cost-effective path towards the future. I agree… but I’m also not fully onboard the ‘hybrid-everything’ train yet either. Because no matter how you slice it, hybrids use more components & have more electronic complications. 

Hence – I love that Lexus offers the new GX 550 with the twin-turbo V6… and doesn’t force buyers into a hybrid. Yes, turbochargers also add their own complications & potential fail points. But a key difference is: Turbos are mechanical components… not electronic. Meaning they are serviceable… not obsolete. And that’s good news for the Lexus GX 550’s projected resale value & longterm ownership experience. 

The new generation of Toyota/Lexus turbocharged engines are more efficient than the previous non-turbo generations, while simultaneously giving customers more power & performance, and (arguably) a more enjoyable driving experience than the outgoing models.

Lexus GX 550 premium

GX 550

GX 550

Import Alliance car show

Tech in the Lexus GX 550…

All the tech in this particular Lexus GX 550 is a bit excessive for my tastes. The car would set-off a warning chime & tell me to sit up… or to look forward if I glanced anywhere but dead ahead. You’ve got to have a certain level of patience for that… which I admittedly don’t. Part of what I love so much about driving, is the opportunity to disconnect. Therefore I don’t want an overly iPhone driving experience, or a gaggle of safety-monitoring-devices incessantly beeping at me. But fortunately with the new GX 550, Lexus has made safety/tech-related packages optional, so you’re not forced to pay for stuff you don’t want. 

Lexus GX 550

GX 550

Lexus GX 550

Additional key points…

The new Lexus GX 550 offers more performance, better miles-per-gallon, an easier-going driving experience, and a striking authentic design. In its segment, the GX 550 excels when comfort, capability, and longevity are equal priorities. The sideways-opening tailgate of the previous GX 460 has now been replaced by a standard upward-opening hatch. It still retains the separate/convenient quick window access. The hatch also offers completely hands-free (foot-swiping) access. There is an affordable Cold Area Package & rear heated seats for colder climates. 3rd-row seating is offered, but the off-road oriented models ditch the 3rd row for more cargo capacity. So again. you can buy it the way you want it. If you’re tall, you need not worry about headroom. And the GX 550 maintains speed/momentum beautifully & takes roadtrips in stride. 

Price: Starting at ~$64,000

Engine: 3.4 twin-turbo V6 making 349hp & 479tq

Realistic MPGs: 18

Lexus GX 550 hatch tailgate

Lexus GX 550 interior

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