Don’t count the Lexus GX out as an off-roader just because it’s fancy

It’s a shame you never see a dirty Lexus GX on the road. These things are built for luxury, for sure, but they’re also built to tackle the most rugged terrain.

Back in February, I got to drive a Lexus GX 460 Luxury for a week. My personal vehicle at the time was Clunk, my 1994 Ford F-250, so my review of the 2016 Lexus might be a bit skewed. It was a very big step up on the comfort scale.

The Lexus had the Luxury package, which is the highest trim level offered. The base model is just the GX 460. The next step up is the GX 460 Premium, and the GX 460 Luxury starts at $62,155. The one I drove was $68,765. That’s almost 28 times what Clunk is worth right now.

Lexus GX 460
The Lexus GX 460 Luxury is most certainly luxurious, but as the mud I failed to wash out of the wheel wells indicates, it also does quite well on more rugged terrain.

I thought with all that luxury, it would be less capable than Clunk. But after several trips in the GX 460 up and down my driveway, which we not-so-affectionately call The Moat, I realized it was definitely worth the price tag. Not only was it incredibly comfortable, and loaded with tons of creature comforts, but it was also outfitted with one of the most advanced four-wheel-drive systems I’ve driven.

It was a full-time four-wheel-drive, which I’m not usually very excited about, but I was impressed at how well it did on The Moat. The week I had the Lexus, we got snow, rain, more snow, and then unseasonably high temperatures. All that moisture, combined with the heat, turned The Moat into a mud pit. But even with the silly highway tires and the full-time four-wheel-drive, the GX 460 had no trouble with it.

Earlier in the year, I also had a chance to drive a 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum, and it was equally surprising. Lexus is a Toyota company, and I believe they share some of their drivetrain secrets. The Highlander Hybrid didn’t have quite as big a test on The Moat, but it was still impressive.

Either would be great choices for someone who needs to have a fancy vehicle during the week, but still wants to be able to make it deep into the backcountry on the weekends.