When Lexus first began producing luxury cars for Toyota in 1989, they were likely not aware that they would have a long, prosperous road ahead of them. From the beginning they have been one of the most popular affordable luxury cars on the market, and with each passing year they seem to get better and better, keeping up with the times and the technology that comes with progress. Today Lexus remains just as popular and loved as ever, and that is after nearly thirty-five years of production.
During these years most of the vehicles made by the company have consisted of mostly sedans, coupes, and crossovers, but in the last decade plus we have seen Lexus really show its versatility and willingness to get its feet wet. Along with many other surprising car companies they have gotten on the off-road bandwagon by designing and producing vehicles that are worthy of a dirty good time on grime, rocks, and uneven surfaces. They have managed to put out some pretty good 4×4 vehicles worthy of mention, and there are proud owners out there who just wouldn’t drive anything else.
But many out there would much rather depend on a solid brand when it comes to playtime in their beloved vehicle. For those who have never driven a Lexus with off-road capability, you are likely finding yourself wondering how good, not to mention safe, one of these luxury 4x4s really are. How do they handle the treacherous terrain? What about the ice and the snow during the cold season? A Lexus might be pretty darn pretty and comfortable for the most part, with all kinds of extras, but what about when the need to get serious arises…can a Lexus really hang tough with the ‘big boys’?
Well, in this particular piece we are determined to take a look and find out. We’ve sat down and done our research, and we are going to lay out three different Lexus models specifically made with off-road driving in mind. We’ll not specs, as well as any other pertinent information that will give you a better understanding of just how tough and durable a Lexus can be. So, if you’ve experienced apprehension when it comes to Toyota’s line of luxury cars and their ability to run with the larger, harder dogs, this may help that feeling dissipate entirely. Read on to discover the five best Lexus models for off-road driving.
The Lexus IS 300 & 350
It should first be said that the Lexus IS 300 and 350 are actually sedans equipped with AWD, standard. For those that don’t know, AWD differs from 4WD in that AWD actually senses when to kick on and when to hang back. Sedans, coupes, and the like are equipped with AWD to accommodate the vehicle type. The Lexus IS 300 and 350 happen to be very fine cars with off-road capability when needed, which seems to go over extremely well with the masses. More versatile appearance-wise, and they won’t let you down when you need them the most, which is just what the doctor ordered for many. It comes with an inline-4 turbocharged engine that just happens to put out 241 horses and has no problem handling the issues beneath its tires. This is a sexy car that can hold a small family and offers many extras while getting the job done.
The Lexus RC 300 and RC 350
Those of you interested in a smaller, sportier car that can handle the perils, don’t despair. The Lexus RC 300 and RC 350 are coupes that are made to please. Now, AWD is optional with this car, so make sure you only consider it if you don’t mind springing extra for it; a V6 is also optional, otherwise you get a turbocharged four-cylinder. This is, indeed, a hot little number, so if it’s sporty you want, that’s what you’re going to get with the RC models. It should also be noted that the 350 is a tad bigger than the 300, so choose accordingly.
The Lexus GX
A full-sized luxury SUV, the Lexus GX is no newcomer to off-road driving needs. Produced from 2002 to the present, the vehicle was built in the style of the sister Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. The first generation, the Lexus GX 470, was only the third SUV-type made by Lexus since they started up, and it was based on a very popular vehicle, which gave it a definite leg up, both quality- and performance-wise. It came with a 5-speed automatic standard, and it had low-range gearing working with its 4WD’s constant utilization. It also came with a 4.7-liter V8 (they switched to a 4.6-liter V8 when they broke out the GX 460, which was next in line in 2009), and in 2012 they came out with the GX 400, which actually had a 4.0-liter V6. According to sources, there are varied opinions on how this truck rides and drives. Surprisingly, the Lexus GX is said by many to do very, very well when off-road, but seems a bit too stiff when on the pavement. Drivers also state that if corners are taken too sharply the truck tends to lean a bit, but it maintains quite well in those tough or weather-beaten situations that you may want it for. Overall, it is considered one of the very best off-road vehicles Lexus ever made, even in 2020. If you’re considering a Lexus with this capability, you have just read about a great choice…the GX470 is considered one of the very best of its kind.
The Lexus RX Mk4
This one was the first legitimate crossover put out by Lexus, and one of the most preferred. The counterpart for 1987’s Toyota Harrier actually has had a much, much better run. It came with a naturally aspirated V6 that put out 220-hp, and buyers had the choice between the standard front-wheel drive or AWD, which is our focus here. Now, in the fourth generation, it still has the same engine, but gets 295hp…nothing to sneeze at; for those who are green-conscious, it also comes in a hybrid version as well. According to drivers the RX is an excellent off-road vehicle, as long as your sticking with the gasoline-only version. The hybrid, while AWD capable, seems to simply not offer the power one would want for rock and dirt, or even winter weather, driving. But as far as off-road vehicles by Lexus go, this is one of the best, top-of-the-line, and seems to be a great seller among the crowd that would rather play it safe than sorry. Definity worth consideration, the RX is one of Lexus’ best.
The Lexus LX 570
Finally, we chose the Lexus LX for our list of the best Lexus off-roaders. Another glamorized Land Cruiser, this one is considered another extraordinary off-road vehicle, but it has been said that it ‘feels’ a bit old and awkward. Yes, it is a bit big and bulky, but it makes for better off-road driving, as well as inner comfort and space. Under the hood we are talking about a 5.7-liter V8 run by an 8-speed automatic tranny, which makes for a lot of flexibility when it comes to climbing and overcoming…just what the doctor ordered. But yes, it’s huge, taking 7.3 seconds to reach 60, but off-roading, especially for an everyday vehicle, isn’t a race. With these points in mind, we say with great confidence that the Lexus LX 570 is one of the finest choices an off-road enthusiast who loves luxury can make.
Wrapping it Up
If you love luxury cars, but also love to get a little crazy, or just enjoy handling what nature throws at you, Lexus makes some great vehicles. Check out the models listed above, or better yet, do some research, and take a long look at all they have to offer…you’ll be glad you did. So, have fun shopping for your new off-roader, but most of all be safe. Your off-road days will be long if you do.