Why Lexus GXs Are Becoming Big in the Off-Road Community

Photos: Lexus
Photos: Lexus
Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

When you show up in Ouray, Colorado for the annual FJ Summit, you expect a ton of Land Cruisers, most of the FJ Cruisers produced and a bunch of 4Runners. What you probably don’t expect is a lot of Lexus GXs. Unless you’ve been paying attention.

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I hadn’t been following the off-road scene that closely, so I was surprised to see GX’s in Moab, Utah on their way to Ouray. I even saw the wrecked GX from this video, where it is hammered by—you guessed it—another GX.

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Over the past few years, Lexus GX 460s and GX 470s have become extremely popular in the off-roading community. So much so that, as part of the FJ Summit that Toyota had invited me to, Lexus rolled out the GX Off-Road (GXOR) concept.

Illustration for article titled Why Lexus GXs Are Becoming Big in the Off-Road Community

With upgraded suspension, a spindle-preserving steel bumper, a solar-powered fridge and a slick matte wrap, the GXOR looked rad as hell. More importantly, it shows that Lexus is starting to recognize what the aging GX has going for it.

For those that don’t know, the GX 460 is a Lexified version of the Land Cruiser Prado sold elsewhere. These utilitarian roots make it a pretty rough luxury SUV, but a capable off-roader. You have a low range gearbox, four-wheel drive, crawl control and all of the other Toyota off-road tech goodies.

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But due to the aforementioned Lexification, you also get a lot of leather and technology. Sandwiched between the luxurious opulence of the Land Cruiser/LX 570 and the ruggedness of the 4Runner is the GX, not quite comfy enough to be a great luxury car but too expensive when new to be most people’s off-road rig.

Now, though, early GX models are getting cheap. They’re nimbler and more manageable than Land Cruisers while offering a lot of refinement and power compared to your basic 4Runner. In a lot of cases, early GXs are cheaper than V8 4Runners. It’s kind of a hidden gem in Lexus’ often otherwise boring lineup of crossovers and people-haulers.

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More important than any of that, though, is that they’re something different. Give me a limitless budget and I still probably couldn’t create a 4Runner build that hasn’t been done to death. The GX, though, offers the same quality and capability of a 4Runner with a lot more room to make something unique.

If that’s what you want, I’d move quick. People figured out that the GX rules a few years ago and good ones are getting snatched up. They made a lot fewer of them than they did 4Runners, so the prospect an affordable and unique V8 Toyota-built off-roader isn’t long for this world.

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Illustration for article titled Why Lexus GXs Are Becoming Big in the Off-Road Community

Mack Hogan is Jalopnik's Weekend Editor, but you may know him from his role as CNBC's car critic or his brave (and maligned) takes on Twitter. Most people agree that you shouldn't listen to him.

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DISCUSSION

hammerheadfistpunch
HammerheadFistpunch

I’d like to think Im doing my part

https://oppositelock.kinja.com/overland-under-budget-lexus-gx-470-1699308698

That plus Im one of those guys snatching the good ones up while they were still cheaper than 4runners.

I’m keeping mine stock for now as its best as an all rounder for my family at this time, the main adventure machine title being retained by the Land Cruiser.

Tows 6500 lbs, self leveling air suspension in the rear, electronically adjustable shocks, full time 4wd with torsen center differential with mechanical locking function, low range, ATRAC, the EXCELLENT 2UZ-FE with Lexus specific tune that gives you an extra 15 lbs-ft and 3 hp in the midrange when you use premium (will run on regular all day long).

Downsides? The rear axle is pansy compared to the Land Cruiser but you can swap it directly with any J120 rear axle including the e-locker from the 4runner or FJ-cruiser. Mileage is poor, but not ruinous like my Land Cruiser. Some parts are STUPID expensive like the brake master cylinder (same with the 4runner). and the airbags do need to be replaced every 100k miles or so (a relatively easy process I’ve done on 2 of these now). The CV’s seem to only last about 5 years when lifted but rebooting and re-greasing often will substantially extend that. Timing belt.

Another upside? The Lexus dealer in town charges the same as the Toyota dealership but has a much better experience and I can buy my own Toyota parts and bring them in for them to do it when I can’t be bothered.

I bought a 470 because it was in my budget 3 years ago but today I would buy an early 460 in a heartbeat given that its the same formula with an engine that doesn’t need timing belts.