Toyota's Land Cruiser SUV has long held a reputation for being the world's toughest truck. Land Cruisers dot the Australian outback, serve as emergency vehicles in the far reaches of South America and ferry United Nations Peacekeepers to conflict zones around the world.
This, the Lexus LX 570, is the Land Cruiser's luxurious corporate cousin. With a more aggressive design, better interior materials and a new two-row option for a lower price, it's starting to make sense. It's not perfect, but the LX 570 two-row is the best competitor Japan has to offer against the Range Rover.
Toyota's(7203.T-JP) Land Cruiser and Lexus LX 570 are both built for off-roading, with four-wheel drive, locking differentials and a low-range gearbox for rock crawling. That doesn't leave a lot of space for the third row to fold, so previous versions of the Toyota twins have featured third-row seats that flip up and to the site. If you wanted a full cargo area, you had to remove the seats. Otherwise, they stayed folded up and looking goofy.
Now, you can get an LX 570 with only two rows of seats. This maximizes cargo space and reduces cost, allowing the big Lexus to better compete with Land Rover's Range Rover and Mercedes' G-Class, both of which offer only two rows of seats. The LX starts at $87,375 with destination charges, around $5,000 less than the three-row model. Our tester had a sticker price of $88,195.
That's just $3,000 more than the last Land Cruiser we tested, which makes the LX easier to justify. It still offers that unbeatable sense of quality and durability with a massive 5.7-liter V-8 and a powerful suite of off-road equipment, but now without the clumsy third row and the extra cost.
It may not look the part, but rest assured that the LX is all but unstoppable on a trail. Like all Land Cruisers and LXs before it, the thing is built to handle the worst the world has to offer. It has height-adjustable suspension, hill descent control and a crawl control system that can help the Lexus unstick itself from the worst jams. It can even lock up the inside wheel on a tight bend to help the big truck navigate tight curves in a trail.
Despite being one of the most capable off-roaders you can buy from a dealership, the LX is still seriously quiet and refined on the road. Road and wind noise are well-filtered, while the engine only makes a ruckus under severe acceleration. Our tester also had the Luxury Package, which includes cooled seats, four-zone climate control and even softer leather seats.
Taken as a whole, the interior is a nice place to be, with nice materials and classy design. It won't blow away Range Rover owners, but a high-quality interior with a nice ride over bumps may sway some who are put off by Land Rover's reliability woes.
The LX 570 handles bumps with composure but often responds to inputs in a lumbering manner. With a tall body lifted up for good ground clearance, the LX heaves forward under braking, squats back when accelerating and leans into corners. It's easy to imagine this exacerbating car sickness.
Lexus also remains incapable of offering a user-friendly infotainment system. The mouse-like remote touch interface is jarring to use, with weird feedback. It's basically impossible to use on the move, so we tended to set the screen to show a map and our music and leave it be. Luckily, the center console is full of buttons. These handle a lot of core functionality, so you don't have to use the infotainment as much.
Fuel economy is also laughably bad. In mostly city driving, we averaged around 13 miles per gallon. Unlike the Land Cruiser, the LX guzzles premium fuel, which means your gas bill will be stratospheric.
Finally, the Land Cruiser does exist and is cheaper. If you can deal with the cheaper interior, Toyota badge and clumsy third row, it offers the same quality and unstoppable charm at a lower price.
How we'd option it
The cheapest Lexus LX 570 you can get is the two-row with no options, which starts at $87,135. We recommend adding the $1,190 luxury package. This also necessitates the $150 heated steering wheel.
Believe it or not, those are the only options available. While you can pay for accessories or different wheels, the LX two-row comes equipped with just about everything you'd want. Unfortunately, you can't get the high-end Mark Levinson audio system without stepping up to the three-row model, but you're saving enough money that we can forgive it.
The Lexus LX is not as sleek or cool as a Range Rover. It also has a worse cabin and worse on-road manners.
However, it's significantly cheaper than a loaded Range Rover and impeccably built. It's not perfect, but it offers luxury SUV comfort for daily use and insane off-road capability. If you value reliability and quality over a posh cabin and jealous looks, the Lexus LX 570 two-row is the Japanese Range Rover you need.
Exterior: 2 stars
Interior: 3.5 stars
Driving Experience: 3 stars
Value: 2.5 star
Overall: 2.8 stars
*Ratings out of 5.