The LX 570 is considered a flagship of the Lexus SUV lineup. Since it has the same platform as the Toyota Land Cruiser, the off-pavement performance is excellent. But both of these rigs are large, heavy and cost a fortune.

This brings us to the smaller Lexus GX 460. Its middle size makes for less bulk. With four-wheel drive high and low range, locking differential, crawl control and adjustable suspension that can be raised or lowered, this rig has all the equipment for playing in the dirt. Think of this as a miniature version of the bigger LX 570.

Inside we have all the luxury items expected, with leather, plush seats and powerful stereo. The suspension has Normal, Sport and Comfort modes. Under the hood is a small but strong 4.6-liter V8 that helps push this 2.5-ton beast along. Fuel economy is 15/19 mpg. While not very economical, it’s certainly better than the 5.7 V8 found in the LX at 12/16 mpg!

One complaint we have is the rear cargo door. It is a one-piece unit that swings out to the passenger side. This is fine in England where drivers park on the left side of the street. But here in North America, loading from the right curb is awkward with that big door blocking the way.

The GX starts at $54K. Ours is loaded up with all the goodies, so it is $72K. But this is a small price to pay for a quality do-anything vehicle with fantastic build quality and proven reliability.

For those who need more room, the GMC Yukon is worth a look. Our test rig is loaded up with options, so it hits a tidy $75K. Naturally this has a four-wheel-drive system for the dirt, but it also has an all-wheel selection for the street providing better traction on wet pavement. There is also a knob that gives four drive modes: Normal, Sport, Off Road and Tow.

The biggest gripe here is with the cabin, mainly the materials used. This is low-grade plastic, no better than what we see on vehicles costing far less. The black shade looks even worse. But on the positive side, almost all controls are large buttons, switches or real knobs. These are far easier to use than scrolling through a dreaded infotainment screen, which is the trend on other brands. We also like the push-button gear selector, which takes up little space and is easy to use. The 5.3-liter V8 offers plenty of acceleration with its 10-speed transmission. Fuel economy is listed at 16/20 mpg, which is close to what we observed. A larger 6.2 V8 is offered, for more money of course.

The Yukon is for someone who needs an SUV with lots of interior space, and this delivers. Those who don’t need to go off road can get a cheaper price by ordering the two-wheel-drive version starting at $53K.

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Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.

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