As a part of the ever-expanding, highly competitive mid-size third-row luxury SUV segment, the 2021 Lexus GX struggles to keep up with its top rivals. While it certainly gets some things right (like its user-friendly controls and impressive off-roading capabilities), the GX has some pitfalls (such as seats that are not remotely comfortable and a jittery ride while going over broken pavement). The GX certainly looks high-end, but it just does not always feel that way.
The GX is at least somewhat unique in its ability to travel off of the beaten path. the all-wheel drive system has low-range gearing, and that helps to maximize the amount of traction you get when you most require it. Unfortunately, the GX just is not as oriented toward utility or fuel efficiency. The V8 engine sucks up a lot of gas, and there is a noticeable lack of cargo space behind the third row.
Buyers will probably overlook the GX in favor of more well-rounded competitors, but they should be aware of some of the positives the 2021 Lexus GX holds. That being said, let's take a look at what is new for the model year, the available styles and trim levels, the driving performance, and the fuel economy.
What's New For 2021?
A few changes have been made to the 2021 Lexus GX. First of all, there is now a premium sound system and power adjustable third-row seats on the Premium Plus package. Also, the vehicle now has compatibility with Amazon Alexa. On top of that, there is now acoustic glass on the front side windows for extra insulation from wind and road noise. Otherwise, everything carries over from the 2020 line-up.
The 2021 Lexus GX is available as a mid-size third-row SUV.
There are three trim levels available for the 2021 Lexus GX line-up: the Base, the mid-tier Premium, and the line-topping Luxury. All three are powered by the same 4.6-L V8 engine, which creates 301 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission comes standard, as does front-wheel drive.
The Base trim can seat up to seven passengers and comes with standard LED headlights on the front fascia. In order to boost off-roading performance, the Base is equipped with Lexus' Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. Other standard features on this well-equipped base trim include four USB ports (with two up front and two in the rear), an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, keyless entry and ignition, and simulated leather upholstery. Driver aids include adaptive cruise control, lane departure mitigation, and forward collision warning.
Upgrading to the Premium gets you the Enform communications system, integration with Amazon Alexa, and a built-in navigation system. This trim also comes with a triz-one automatic climate control system, parking sensors, heating for all seats, ventilation on the front seats, automatic windshield wipers, and LED fog lights.
There are options available too. One is a power-folding for the third row. Also, you can choose to get it with second-row captain's chairs. There is also a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system available.
The Luxury trim level standardizes the power-folding third row and many other optional features for the Premium. You also get a self-leveling adaptive air suspension, upgraded leather upholstery, and a wood-trimmed steering wheel with a heating function. Options remaining on it include a 360-degree surround-view camera system and the Off-Roading Package (which gives the GX crawl control, adjustable off-roading drive modes, a transmission oil cooler, and protection for the fuel tank).
The 2021 Lexus GX is a mixed bag when it comes to the driving performance. Its massive curb weight makes driving around town feel cumbersome. The transmission's calibration and efficiency-tuned throttle pedal do little to help. Making an emergency stop from 60 mph takes a whopping 139 feet - one of the longest distances for a new vehicle. Steering effort at least feels light in everyday driving situations, but it feels bland otherwise.
Add to that the fact that the GX does not offer a lot of ground clearance. It also has some low overhangs underneath, so off-roading is not something we'd recommend trying in the supposedly off-road-oriented GX. Owners will need to add on their own lift kits, which really makes the GX better-suited for future second owners who want to do some moderate off-roading.
Fuel economy is a serious low point for the 2021 Lexus GX. Its 16 mpg combined (with 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway) would've been more acceptable a decade ago. These days? Not so much. Most of the GX's rivals can top these poor EPA estimates. Unfortunately, real world tests confirm these estimates, so expect to pay a lot at the pump.
The 2021 Lexus GX does a few things well, and it has some off-roading potential. However, that potential is curbed by a gas-guzzling V8, weak braking, bland steering, snooze-worthy acceleration, and technology that can be downright aggravating to use. Your best bet is to check out some of the GX's competitors, as there are some out there that will give you more for less.
Formula for Calculating Dealer Cost:
Total Dealer Cost - Rebate and Incentive + Taxes / Licensing Fees = True Dealer Cost. (You can get rebates and incentives here.)
Note: All Lexus GX 460 MSRP, invoice and dealer cost dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.
A note about rebates: Most rebates are subtracted from the "on the road" figure. In most cases, you can have the rebate if you are arranging your own financing or you are paying cash. If you decide to use the manufacturer’s low interest financing, you do not usually get the rebate. Ask your dealer for details.