Walkaround and Interior

By September 21, 2012

Walkaround

The Lexus GX is a traditional SUV with body-on-frame construction, though it's slightly lower in stance than some others.

The front of the GX is dominated by a four-slot grill and compound headlamps that use separate projector lenses for low beam and Halogen lighting for the high beams (HID on Premium models), with LED turn signals in the side-view mirrors. Fog lamps are mounted separately in the lower front bumper area.

At the rear, the cargo door opens to the side, and its window can be opened separately, allowing two ways to access the luggage compartment. The rear door swings outward when released by pressing a hidden door handle located to the left of the license plate. The taillights use a cluster of LED elements to generate their glow. The rear wiper is mounted under the rear spoiler, leaving the back window free of obstruction.

Exterior trim differs very slightly between Base and Premium grades, with Premium trim levels getting telltale chrome trim around the back edge of the side quarter-window glass, and a brighter finish on the wheels.

Interior Features

The Lexus GX seats up to seven passengers and comes with three rows of seating.

The front row is spacious, with storage bins and pockets located overhead, in the center console, and side door pockets. The front seats are 10-way power adjustable, both heated and cooled. The four-spoke steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and automatically tilts away when the Power button is pushed to shut the GX off. Between the two front seats are adjustable armrests.

The center stack is designed around a 4.2-inch pushbutton display that shows trip and environment data, such as temperature, cruise range, fuel consumption, climate control settings, and so on. With the available Navigation system, an eight-inch touchscreen display is used, allowing for control of navigation, audio, climate and phone.

Controls are nicely designed and integrated, with conspicuously high-quality wood and leather materials used throughout. Redundant switches for cruise control, audio and navigation are mounted in the steering wheel.

With the wide-view monitor, the driver can check for obstructions using three different views around the GX, generated by two separate wide-angle cameras that display images of what's behind the vehicle whenever reverse is selected.

Second-row seating is reasonably roomy and versatile, allowing for either three passengers or two passengers with a center armrest/cupholder and overhead reading lamps. The second-row bench is split 40/20/40. The outboard seats are full-sized, with available heat/cool capability. The center seat is less accommodating.

Third-row access is from the passenger side, where the second-row seat moves forward to allow walk-in access to the third row. We found the process a bit tricky, and the rearmost seats are not long on legroom. For smaller passengers or short trips, the rear seats will be adequate; for adults, they will be cramped and uncomfortable.

The third-row seats can be commanded to fold flat at the push of a button, converting the GX to a five-passenger SUV with enlarged storage. Most of the time, the third-row seats will be empty, so the power fold-flat feature on the GX is likely to be highly useful, freeing the driver from the hassle of reconfiguring the seating to accommodate changing loads.

A nine-speaker sound system that includes a 6CD changer with MP3 capability, integrated XM radio and streaming audio via Bluetooth is standard. The optional Mark Levinson audio system is for audiophiles and uses 17 speakers, powered by 330 watts with less than 0.1 percent total harmonic distortion, and can play DVDs or CDs in addition to files from outside sources. A rear-seat entertainment system, with remote control, is bundled with the Mark Levinson audio system as an additional option. The Mark Levinson system has enough clean power to allow for listening at very high volumes with practically no distortion. We didn't have a back-seat passenger during our drive, but we did listen from the back seat later on, and sure enough, the sound is just as good in the back seat as the front. It's an option that, while on the pricy side, will truly be appreciated by those who love their music.

A well-insulated cabin helps the audio system sound its best. With the audio system shut off, the cabin is quiet and we found it easy to speak using a low tone of voice.

Lexus Enform is the latest in Lexus telematic systems, and it comes standard on the GX. Enform is a subscription-based live-operator assist system that enables real-time assistance without having to fuss with navigation programming. To test it, we pushed the button, an operator picked up and downloaded directions to our lunch destination. We felt guilty asking a live operator to direct us to a burger joint, but it is nice to know that someone is standing by 24/7. Enform is optional, bundled with Navigation. Another system, Safety Connect, is standard on the GX and provides automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assistance and enhanced roadside assistance.