A product of the Noughties. If your first reaction to the sight of the Lexus GX is 'that looks a bit old-fashioned,' your instincts would be correct. First launched in 2010, the GX enters its 14th model year with the odd nip and tuck, but nothing capable of disguising its ancestry. More troublingly, the GX has always been a Toyota 4Runner in a fancy frock. Toyota 4x4s are legendary for their unburstable mechanicals, but they’ve never attempted to offer Range Rover luxury or Volvo style.

What we have here, then, is a very old SUV based on another very old SUV that wasn’t especially advanced or sophisticated when it was designed two decades ago. You can probably surmise that the GX makes poor internal use of its large and heavy bodyshell, has stodgy on-road dynamics, and combines leisurely performance with dreadful fuel economy. You’ll struggle to better 16 mpg combined, and it only drinks premium fuel.

Something old, something new. The GX is an antiquated design, but Lexus has tried their best to keep it modern with endless refreshes and tweaks. The end result is a rather odd mixture of Millennial heft and modern tech. Settle into one of the overstuffed synthetic leather seats (though ideally not the third row, which is best left to small relatives you don’t like), and your view is dominated by a slab-like dashboard capped by a high-res 10.3-inch touchscreen. This looks good but is frustrating to use, mainly due to an awkwardly positioned touchpad on the center console.

Other evidence of the GX’s ancestry emerges as the heavy, side-hinged rear door opens to reveal 65 cu ft of cargo space. It would be more, but a solid rear axle prevents the seats from folding into the floor out of the way. These third-row seats aren’t even comfortable, but at least they power recline on most models.

2023 Lexus GX Interior

Built for comfort, not speed. In terms of driving dynamics, let’s start with a positive – the GX is very comfortable. Its 5,100 lb curb weight and well-sprung suspension combine with a well-insulated engine bay to provide fairly serene progress. We’d prefer a few more gears in the six-speed auto ‘box, but at least it’s as smooth as you’d expect in a Lexus. You’d also expect a vehicle sharing much of its DNA with the world-renowned Toyota Land Cruiser to be fairly impressive off-road; every model has AWD and a two-speed transfer case, while anyone planning on venturing further than the school gates can add an optional Off-Road pack on flagship models.

That’s where the good news ends. The 4.6-liter V8 might be good for towing up to 6,500 lb, but it’s a leisurely performer which guzzles gas at a horrifying rate. Don’t expect any driving dynamics to speak of – the GX doesn’t lean too much, but the steering is uncommunicative and the car’s sheer weight makes cornering something of an ordeal. You might be glad of the grab handles mounted on the A-pillars. Despite having been around for nearly two decades, no GX has ever been crash tested in America. We therefore can’t comment on safety, other than to acknowledge the presence of active lane control and automatic emergency braking across the range.

The price is right up. When you consider the base GX has synthetic leather and manually folding third-row seats, a base price of $58,000 seems rather optimistic. We’d find an extra $1,335 to upgrade to Premium, which adds ventilated front seats and rear climate to a broader options list. You could spend well over $70,000 on a Luxury model, though for the same money you could have a vastly superior Porsche Cayenne or Audi Q8.

Final thoughts. There’s no point beating around the bush here – the GX isn’t really a contender in today’s large SUV sector. Pretty much any rival could embarrass this 14-year-old in terms of performance, driving dynamics, and standard specifications. Even if you’re not interested in pacesetting EVs like Audi’s E-Tron, gas-powered rivals offer more of everything for considerably less.

Plus points? The Lexus badge carries plenty of cachets, despite being a bit golf-club-car-park, and you won’t have to make many claims on its four-year warranty given the marque's legendary reliability. The ride is smooth, while performance – though slow – is unflustered. Robust mechanicals can cope with off-road excursions, and you can seat seven inside that slab of a body. Whether you (or anyone else) would want to is another matter entirely, considering the cramped and gloomy cabin’s basic specification and sadistic third-row seating. We can only hope this GX doesn’t live to see a 15th birthday.

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