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Sunday Drive: A luxurious adventure to Southern Utah in the new Lexus GX550

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Jun 22, 2024
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Deanne shows off the dirty Lexus GX as we were traveling down the trail to Hole in the Rock, stopping for a hike in Devil’s Garden.
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Deanne with the new 2024 Lexus GX 550 Luxury Edition as we arrived at Bryce Canon for an afternoon hike on the Friday of our weekend outing.
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The 2024 Lexus GX550 at Hole in the Rock along with some others that had ventured down the dirt road to overlook Lake Powel.
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Inside the 2024 Lexus GX Luxury Edition.
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Inside the 2024 Lexus GX Luxury Edition.
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Inside the 2024 Lexus GX Luxury Edition.

Coming up this year, Toyota is set to reintroduce an all-new Land Cruiser, an epic model that has adorned their dealerships since 1951. 2021 marked the last year that it was sold here in the U.S., and we had a chance that year to drive one that came in at just over $90,000.

This year, with a new version coming, Lexus got to debut the new model to their line with the GX 550, which is based on the same framework as the new Land Cruiser, except the GX comes with a V-6 twin turbo motor, and the Land Cruiser will only get a four-cylinder twin turbo power plant.

From the moment the GX landed in our driveway, we were enthralled with the new look. It was boxy to an extent and just seemed to shout adventure to us. To that end, as it was Craig's birthday week, we planned a quick weekend getaway to Southern Utah. With an extended off-road drive to Hole in The Rock, where the pioneers descended 1,800 feet down a narrow rock cannon to the Colorado River to get into the Bluff area through what they imagined to be a shortcut, a task that ended up taking six months to complete.

Before we left, all the information on the road to Hole in The Rock said it was not too bad, only having some washboard-like driving until the last 5 to 7 miles, which required a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle to get there. On paper, the new GX seemed to be just the vehicle to make this kind of a trek in. So, we made all the arrangements, making our home base in Tropic for three days of fun in the rocks and sun of Southern Utah!

Inside, our pre-production Lexus GX did not disappoint us at any time as we traveled the 180 miles on Friday to Tropic. There really wasn't any complaining with seats that were clad in leather and both heated and cooled along with a massage feature built in, as were those in the Luxury trim level of the GX.

One of the coolest features we discovered as we started our trek was that the panoramic moon roof would change with the touch of button to block out most of light from the sun, thus allowing us to enjoy the sunshine within the SUV but not be overwhelmed with heat. Then in the evening, we could touch the button and it became crystal clear and we could see the moon and the stars in all their glory far from city lights!

This new feature was called Dynamic Sky and proved to be our favorite on the long drive, as usually we would cover the moon roof during the day to keep the sun out and the interior cooler. This roof would not open as other moon roofs will, but it was a small price to pay for the convenience and technology involved.

With the GX coming with all the awesome Toyota 4x4 DNA that they have developed over the years, that made it the perfect combination of fantastic ride and awesome rock crawler. As we glided down the highway, however, we could not have been more comfortable knowing that adventure awaited and the GW was up for whatever nature had in store for us.

The new engine setup comes with even more horsepower (349) and torque (479 pound-feet) than the outgoing SUV had three years ago, and all with a smaller motor.

The digital additions to the GX were incredible, with a huge 14-inch touch screen infotainment display hooked to the Lexus interface that seamlessly connected to our phones wirelessly, allowing us to use Apple CarPlay. That, along with the 21-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system, introduced a small piece of heaven to the drive down south.

The GX came loaded with all the great safety features we have come to expect from Lexus in their Safety System 3.0: pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and intersection support, road sign assist, lane tracing assist, all-speed dynamic rader cruise control with curve speed management, lane departure with steering assist, and intelligent high-beam headlamps.

It was almost as if the SUV would drive itself with everything set to cruise on the interstate if we kept a hand on the wheel and eyes on the road. It was a joyful experience.

However, on Saturday for the trip to Hole in the Rock, the GW proved just how great its off-road abilities were. We did discover that the last 5 to 7 miles were over rock and sandstone most of the way, with the SUV taking it all in stride as if it were just another day at the office.

Climbing at times over 11% grades, then down the other side with ease, we never even had to engage the four-wheel drive into the low position. More importantly, we had this off-road experience in class and comfort that has become synonymous with the Lexus name.

How the pioneers were able to get to Hole in The Rock is one thing. But after seeing it in person, how they got down to the river in covered wagons became quite another question. We only made it about one-third of the way down before hitting a spot that was a little too much of a drop for us!

We completely enjoyed our weekend adventure in the all-new Lexus GX 550. What a great way to get off road, or for that matter just enjoy the open road in luxury, knowing that there really is nowhere you cannot go or any hill that can't be conquered.

What a fantastic new design and look for what has become a legend in the Lexus stable. When looking for a go-anywhere vehicle that will do it in complete style, the 2024 Lexus GX 550 is the SUV to make that happen.

Base price: $79,900

Destination charge: $1,350

Price as driven (estimated): $84,395

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