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

Photos: Lexus
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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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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Mack Hogan

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.