While much remains in common with off-road vehicles, there is still much debate about the exact combination of specs that creates an ideal one. Some enthusiasts have incredibly strong opinions on the matter, citing the ruggedness of the 4-wheel parts nestled away under the hoods of their own make and model. Others will go even further, scoffing at the notion of taking a luxury car out on the trail, in all its heated leather seated glory. The debate begs the question: do the SUVs in the “luxury” class really have the off road parts it takes to play with the big boys?
It depends on who you ask. Many trail runners are loyal to certain brands with a legacy of off-road performance: Jeep, Toyota, and Nissan are among the top names that have garnered large, devoted followings. Some people, however, are open to exploring different brands, especially those modified with the right suite of 4×4 accessories. Regardless of the side of this fence that you sit on, there are several luxury vehicles that are making a name for themselves in off road circles. Here are three of the top contenders for the spot of swankiest switchback stomper.
Lexus GX 460
Build upon the same rock-solid frame as the Toyota 4Runner, the Lexus GX 460 is said to be just as reliable and substantial, albeit with lots more bells and whistles. Ultra-soft shocks and a wide body style create the feeling of floating down a river, and the interior luxury package is almost enough to distract you from the 4-wheel parts entirely. Its poor gas mileage probably won’t scare anyone off, since weak fuel economy is almost considered a 4×4 accessory of its own.
If you long to stretch out your legs and have a little technology assistance while out on the trail (and have the pocketbook to sustain it), the voluptuous Lexus could very well be on your list. It performs smoothly on city streets like most vehicles in its class, but perks like hill-start assist control, downhill assist control, and even a special option called Crawl Control function as off road parts as well. While it will never be a serious rock crawler, the GX460 has good bones and can be modified with “legit” 4 wheel parts without losing any of its bloated upper class charm.
Land Rover Defender
If you ask most people what brand is one step up from Jeep, with the same rugged durability and iconic styling, they might reply with Land Rover. The British company has created a long line of utilitarian vehicles, each with an impressive list of off road parts. While they have deviated somewhat from the practical tank-like prototypes in favor of a more sleek and stylish urban fleet, Land Rover has maintained the classic boxy Defender for what they deem the “leisure” driver: country drives, safaris, mountain expeditions are optional but certainly not out of the question.
It has pedigree for sure, and only sells in relatively low numbers, but there’s something else that makes these cars special. The 4-wheel parts and sheer forceful execution through sand, snow, mud, and rock have garnered the Defender a zealous global following. If you are the type who loves the royal treatment (Land Rovers are a top choice among the UK elite) while kicking serious butt on the trail, this one might be right up your cobblestone alley. Its price point is tough, and it’s slightly harder to modify with 4×4 accessories, but if you’re able to afford a true Defender, you just may not want to.
Mercedes G63 AMG
At first glance, you might say that the Mercedes G63 looks like a souped up version of the Land Rover; it sports the same box shape and shiny grandiosity that almost begs to be cloistered in a heated garage. But those who have had the pleasure of driving this AMG-designated tank are generally blown away by its handling, refined interior, and its ability to cut through the toughest terrain. The high performance components allow this luxury liner to glide over silt and sand without risking a spill of your latte.
The G63 AMG boasts an efficient V8 engine, plenty of torque to pull you through a mud trap, and special shock absorbers to prevent the jarring that often happens off the beaten path. Since these 4 wheel parts come with a hefty price tag, you won’t pass many in the mountains, but for the off-roading elite, Mercedes gives just the right amount of durability and style.
Whether you’re a die-hard Jeep fan or lovingly committed to your Toyota, if you get a chance to test drive one of these luxury vehicles, don’t pass it up. After all, getting the taste of the high life may give you ideas for your next off road parts purchase or modification project.