The $80k 8-passenger SUVs are so similar they could cancel each other out or make the argument to be one luxury utility vehicle.
by Tony West and Daryl Payne
Last fall, we reviewed the 2017/18 Toyota Land Cruiser and Editor Sommer fell in love with the brawny SUV’s decked out cabin. Recently motorsports correspondent Daryl reviewed the 2018 Lexus LX 570, a muscled out iteration of the top-of-the-line SUV and declared the LX a better buy than the Land Cruiser. Hence a passionate debate ensued.
Reincarnated GX – no, Fully-Capable Utility Lineup – Yes
The big-body Toyota Land Cruiser at first glance look like the Sequoia which is no longer in production. Sommer was impressed by boldness of the tricked out utility truck, with a 112-inch wheelbase and full cargo volume of 81.7 cu.ft. It’s a big-body with sex appeal.
Exterior flair like LED lighting, metallic paint and color-keyed elements, aluminum running boards, chrome side molding, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a big grill are easy on the eyes and conveys a sense of strength and potency. Other elements make the Land Cruiser ideal for work, recreation, off-road, travel, and as heavy-duty adventure vehicle like the roof rack, privacy glass, front and tow hooks, heavy mud guards and durable skid plates.
The versatile Land Cruiser is fun to drive and very sturdy. Performance features like its kinetic dynamic suspension system, crawl control, and multi-terrain select give the whip a tailored response in rough road conditions. Plus the interior is tricked out with leather and wood with a dope wireless entertainment suite.
The 2017 Lexus LX was completely redesigned, and most of the features of the new model carry over from last year. For 2018 Lexus made optional features like Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect free for first 10 years.
Daryl took quickly to the 2018 Lexus LX 570. As a renaissance man who loves fast cars and big toys, Daryl was attracted to the luxury look of the Lexus LX 570, with its big 112 inch wheelbase, 20 inch alloy wheels with Graphite finish, HID headlights, and LED daytime running lights, tail lights and fog lights. Daryl also complimented the raked windshield and the big power-folding side mirrors with LED turn signals.
The 2017/18 Lexus LX has a high-strength steel frame that makes for tougher defense and less agility. An active height control system can lower the chassis about two inches for the driver to enter, and raises automatically when pulling off. The LX offers a more refined drivetrain than the Land Cruiser with a meticulous 8-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift and adaptive variable suspension.
Comparable Powertrains with Distinctive Dynamic Driving Tech
Both the LX and the Toyota Land Cruiser have a 5.7 liter V8 engine, the LX with 383 horsepower and 403 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm, and the Land Cruiser boasting 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Both 8-passenger, 5-door SUV’s have full-time all-wheel drive and Torsen limited-slip center differential. But Daryl prefers the LX performance, and Sommer the Land Cruiser.
The big-body Land Cruiser offers a more tailored driving experience and sureness off-roading. And the SUV begs for adventure with an 8,100 lb towing capacity and many off-road features fitted standard.
At the punch of the gas, the Land Cruiser charges forward with full-strength and maintains a well-balanced cruise above 70 mph. Turning is responsive with speed-sensing variable gear ratio steering. Braking the behemoth is harsh with 13 inch ventilated front/rear discs brakes. Cumbersome cornering and swerving isn’t improved by AWD or the sophisticated suspension system.
Sommer thinks KDSS, Crawl Control and multi-terrain select are the Land Cruiser’s most dynamic features. The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) fitted to the front features an independent double-wishbone design. KDSS matched with 4-link rear suspension cushions the cabin over rough train tracks and off-road terrain.
KDSS utilizes hydraulic control system to auto-respond and adjust stabilizer bars to road services, cornering, and off-road terrains. Crawl Control helps the Land Cruiser roll over extremely rough off-road surfaces at a fixed low speed. The Land Cruiser also has a tech savvy multi-terrain monitor that displays camera views of the front, side, underbody, rear and a wide angle view.
The 2018 Lexus LX 570 boasts a more sophisticated drivetrain to complement its lux driver-focused cabin. The LX features double wishbone front suspension and four-link coil spring lateral type rear suspension that gives the SUV high-speed and off-road resilience. Yet its performance is unrefined. Sommer expected the Lexus LX to have more finesse on the road, but the new model is more like the sportier GX.
The Lexus LX accelerates well but after it’s nearly floored. Turning is unwieldy and four-wheel disc brakes feel mushy. In stop-and-go traffic, the inadequate braking in the LX nearly caused an accident when the big-body would stop just inches away from a car.
Daryl likes the idea of a swanky SUV with tough off-road chops. He loves the powerful V8 engine, responsive active steering and Adaptive Variable Suspension that maintains grace over difficult terrain. The LX has a similar Crawl Control system and Multi-Terrain select featured in the Land Cruiser along with the multi terrain monitor. Active Traction Control is standard as is Trailer Sway Control.
Both the Lexus LX and the Toyota Land Cruiser offer a wealth of advanced safety technology standard, from the Lane Departure Alert, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, to the Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, automatic braking, and dynamic radar cruise control.
Daryl enjoyed the LX’s versatile character so much that he couldn’t make a case for why the GX would still be relevant. That’s one point he and Sommer both agree.
However, Daryl can attest to some of the shortcomings with the LX 570’s performance as well. Though a very powerful car, it could function just as good with an efficient V6 engine instead of a premium gas guzzling V8. And while the performance of the 2017/18 Land Cruiser is just slightly sportier, its cabin has some of the premium enhancements that should be standard in the new LX.
Distinct Tech-Advanced Cabin Enhances Luxury Character
The 2017/18 Land Cruiser offers a leather trimmed cabin with a center 9-inch high-res screen, two 11-inch TVs in the front seatbacks and a 14-speaker audio system. The rear-seat DVD entertainment system includes wireless headphones HDMI and RCA inputs.
A huge center console also serves as a cooler, great for traveling with drinks on hot summer days. Infotainment tech is enhanced with standard comfort features like a 4-zone climate control, 10-way heated and ventilated driver’s seat, 8-way heated and ventilated passenger seat, heated 2nd row seats and a heated steering wheel.
Subtle wood trim on the shifter, steering wheel, dash and doors class-up the Land Cruiser. While a Qi wireless charger, semi digital dash, smart key access for doors and liftgate and push button offer advanced convenience tech.
The Lexus LX and the Toyota Land Cruiser have similar seating with the Land Cruiser boasting 40/20/40 split sliding, reclining folding 2nd row seats and 50/50 split fold-down third row seats. The Land Cruiser offers 42 inches of 1st row legroom, 34 inches of 2nd row legroom and 28 inches in the 3rd row. Behind the 3rd row, the Land Cruiser has a capacity of 16 cu.ft. The LX offers nearly identical dimensions except for the smaller cargo area that is just above 9 cu.ft.
The Land Cruiser has twelve cup holders, two 12 volt aux power outlets and a 120 volt outlet in the rear cargo area.
The cabin of the 2018 Lexus LX has sophisticated soft leather and wood with LED illumination. Chrome trims the steering wheel, glove box, center console and scuff plates. Daryl loves the off-roading rocker switches in the LX that give a touch of brawn to the center stack.
Both the 2nd and 3rd row of the LX have power sliding seats. A heated steering wheel is offered for $150. While the layout is similar to the Land Cruiser, the rear floor of the LX is high up, making it more difficult for the center 2nd row passenger to sit comfortably.
Both the digital instrument clusters of the LX and the Land Cruiser are outdated. The Toyota Prius has more tech advanced instrumentation. Both the Land Cruiser and the LX clusters show a wealth of information and can be adjusted to display stats and warnings. But neither have changed much in the last decade.
The main difference between the cabin of the LX and the Land Cruiser is that most of the Land Cruiser’s technology and comfort features are standard with the $84k MSRP. The LX’s $1,190 Luxury Package adds semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats with contrast stitching, heated and ventilated front seats, 2nd row heated seats, and smart/access card key. A heads-up display is priced at $900.
The 2017/18 Land Cruiser and 2018 Lexus LX are both fantastic vehicles well worth their high MSRPs. Its ironic that Daryl prefers the LX and Sommer the Land Cruiser. For the parents who want a sporty SUV with tons of space and tech to keep the kids occupied in the back, the Land Cruiser is a better choice. However the Lexus LX is ideal for progressive families with older kids who’ll respect the high-class leather and wood.
But Sommer and Daryl had a free $90k to purchase the best SUV on the market, they would both pick the new Land Rover.