Those seeking a vehicle offering great luxury for daily commuting but all the equipment needed for serious off-roading should take a test drive in a Lexus LX 570. With leather/wood trim, 19-speaker sound system, power everything, heated/cooled seats, console mini refrigerator, panoramic cameras, DVD entertainment system and other goodies, this SUV makes long trips pleasurable.

There is also a control knob offering Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes of driving.

The LX uses the same basic platform as the famous Toyota Land Cruiser, one of the best off-road SUVs on the planet. We get 4x4 high/low gears, locking differentials, crawl control and computer settings for sand, snow or mud. The ride height can be raised for better ground clearance as well.

We put 600 miles on this Lexus in one week. In city traffic, fuel economy with that powerful 5.7 V8 cranking 383 horsepower was 12 mpg, with 16 on highway trips. Since premium gas is required, that gave a fuel bill of $147. But that is a small amount compared to the price sticker that read $99,710 before taxes!

For those who want a Lexus SUV with the same luxury characteristics, great off-road ability yet smaller size and lower cost, the GX 460 will do. This one is also loaded up with all options, but even at $66,820 it is still far less than the larger LX fee. It is powered by a smaller 4.6-liter V8 rated at 301 horsepower and hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission. Real world gas mileage was 12 mpg city, 18 highway and 15 overall.

The GX has plenty of luxury in the cabin, with leather and great sound system. A control knob allows Sport, Normal or Comfort mode of operation. The suspension can also be raised for better ground clearance off the pavement or lowered for cargo loading in a driveway. And 4x4 low and high gears with crawl control is here too. The smaller size allows the GX to fit on dirt trails the larger LX can’t fit on. Think of it as a “mini LX” — my favorite.

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

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