Tips, Tricks & Trends

The Most Reliable SUVs Nobody Seems to Be Driving

With how long some owners keep their SUVs on the road, reliability is no doubt a key shopping consideration. Enough quality issues and even brand loyalists will jump ship. And even with today’s six-figure-plus luxury brands, problems still occur. But despite these headaches, some owners keep coming back for more. This makes the list of reliable SUVs below rather odd. If dependability is so important, why are so few people buying these SUVs?

Toyota Land Cruiser

2019 Toyota Land Cruiser
2019 Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

Ever since the iconic FJ40, the Toyota Land Cruiser has been a by-word for off-road reliability. No, you can’t remove the doors and roof like in the Wrangler, but that just makes the Toyota arguably safer. The Land Cruiser also has a lower risk of rollover than the Jeep, and it can certainly keep up with the Jeep on the trail. It even has an underbody camera and self-leveling suspension.

Ownership records demonstrate the Toyota Land Cruiser’s reliability. Owners regularly keep their Land Cruisers for over 11 years and rack up over 200,000 miles. The SUV is also a Consumer Reports recommendation, scoring high in reliability and customer satisfaction. This is especially impressive considering its status as a luxury SUV, where owners usually care less about reliability than ultimate capability and style. Looking at you, Range Rover.

2019 Toyota Land Cruiser
2019 Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

But despite a stellar reputation, the Land Cruiser is not a particularly strong-seller. Although Road & Track reported that Toyota had recently sold its 10-millionth Land Cruiser, Toyota only sells about 3000 Land Cruisers each year. This is despite its 2016 redesign, which added safety features like blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
2020 Mercedes-Benz G-Class | Mercedes-Benz

Part of the problem may be, as Car and Driver reported, its relative lack of luxury presence. A G-Class arguably stands out better when parked outside a restaurant. This is despite the Land Cruiser’s starting price of $86,640. And although it’s reliable, the Land Cruiser will hurt your wallet at the pump. With a 5.7-liter V8, the EPA rates the Land Cruiser at 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway. Such is the price of capability.

Lexus LX

2019 Lexus LX570
2019 Lexus LX570 | Lexus

If the Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t luxurious enough, there’s always the Lexus LX. It shares the Land Cruiser’s body-on-frame platform, as well as its engine and drivetrain. And, just like its Toyota-branded brother, the LX ranks high in Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings. Essentially, this is a Land Rover that won’t have its suspension glitch out.

2020 Lexus LX570 interior
2020 Lexus LX570 interior | Lexus

As a Lexus, the LX is more up-scale than the Land Cruiser, Car and Driver reports. Switchgear and overall build quality, as with the Land Cruiser, are noticeably high. There’s leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, on top of the Land Cruiser’s off-road and safety features. The base LX also doesn’t cost much more than the Toyota, starting at $87,675. Perhaps that’s why the Lexus LX regularly out-sells the Toyota Land Cruiser. However, that’s still only about 4000 LX’s vs 3000 Land Cruisers. And, as Doug DeMuro discovered, options can quickly push the LX to $95,000 and above.

Some of the Lexus’ drawbacks may explain the low sales. The Land Cruiser weighs less than the LX, meaning the Toyota’s 0-60 time is lower and its towing capacity higher. Also, like the Land Cruiser, the LX’s off-road-focused design means it doesn’t handle as well on city streets. There’s also the V8’s thirsty nature to consider.

2020 Lexus LX570
2020 Lexus LX570 | Lexus

Still, if other luxury SUVs have left you stranded one too many times, the Lexus LX is a reliable SUV worth your consideration.

Toyota Sequoia

Those looking for a large, reliable SUV should look towards the Toyota Sequoia. Like the Land Cruiser and LX, the Sequoia received the highest rating possible by Consumer Reports in reliability. It’s also a CR recommended product, and because its platform hasn’t changed since 2010, Toyota has had plenty of time to iron out any quirks. And based on owner reports, it’s worked.

2020 Toyota Sequoia
2020 Toyota Sequoia | Toyota

The Sequoia is regularly kept for almost a decade, and seeing odometers click over 300,000 miles isn’t unusual. With the same 5.7-liter V8 as the Land Cruiser and LX, as well as its own four-wheel drive system, the Sequoia is a capable and reliable three-row family SUV. And Motor Trend reports the TRD Pro, with Fox shock, front skidplate, and center diff lock, can also off-road fairly well. In addition, although the Sequoia’s platform hasn’t been significantly updated, its safety features have.

The Sequoia is cheaper than either the Land Cruiser or LX, starting at just under $50k, with the TRD Pro starting at $64,030. Perhaps that’s why, according to GoodCarBadCar.net, the Sequoia out-sold both the Land Cruiser and LX combined.

2020 Toyota Sequoia on-road
2020 Toyota Sequoia on-road | Toyota

Even so, though, Toyota only sold 9,413 Sequoias. This is most likely due to the very features that make the Sequoia so appealing. MT’s review indicates the SUV’s platform is starting to show its age. And opting for the TRD Pro also means dealing with the off-road modifications’ effect on pavement. The Sequoia also only has a 6-speed automatic, in contrast to the Land Cruiser’s and LX’s 8-speed.