While sales of body-on-frame SUVs have dropped off over the last several years, for those who need a vehicle that is capable of more than a little soft roading, car-based crossovers like the RAV4 are probably never going to fully replace a true four-wheel drive vehicle. For those buyers, Toyota offers its Land Cruiser. Known for its durability, reliability, and incredible off-road capability, the Toyota Land Cruiser has built quite a following for itself all over the world. For buyers who want their Land Cruiser with an extra dash of luxury and prestige, however, Lexus offers their version, the LX 570.
On the one hand, selling a Lexus version of the Land Cruiser makes a lot of sense. All of the equipment and quality control that goes into making the Land Cruiser so durable and capable costs a lot of money, pushing the base price of the Toyota up to just over $80,000. If someone is going to be dropping that kind of money on a vehicle, they’re much more likely to spend it on a Lexus than a Toyota. On the other hand, does it ever make sense to use a $90,000 Lexus off-road?
In search of answers, I spent a week with one to find out.
Lexus couldn’t get away with just slapping a different badge on the Land Cruiser, so that meant giving it a Lexus styling treatment. In addition to more chrome, it should come as no surprise that they grafted on a spindle grille as well. I don’t think that it looks quite as natural as it would have if the LX 570 had been designed by Lexus from the ground up, but it does work. In fact, I think the look grew on me. It gave the car more presence on the road than the fairly anonymous Land Cruiser, which felt appropriate considering the price bracket.
Inside, nearly everything was covered in leather, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising in a car that would cost you more than my parents paid for their first house. If you’re a take-it-or-leave-it kind of person when it comes to car leather, it’s probably because you’ve been sitting on low-end leather. This leather was definitely not low-end, and it felt wonderful. My only complaint as far as the interior went was that the dash layout felt a little outdated. It was something that I could look past, but then again, I hadn’t also just spent my own hard-earned money on buying one.
If you do spend your own hard-earned money on buying one, however, you’ll definitely get a lot of features. Name a luxury car feature, and it’s probably available on the LX 570. If you don’t regularly carry seven passengers, the third row can be folded up with the touch of a button, making loading the back much easier. If you have kids, they’ll especially enjoy the second row TV screens on long trips.
If you do take the LX 570 on long road trips, you better hope that gas prices stay under $2 a gallon, since the gas mileage was far from Prius-like. I think I averaged just under 14 miles per gallon, and around town it was probably closer to 10. It had a lot more power than a Prius though, making 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque out of its 5.7 liter V8. With 6,000 pounds of vehicle to haul, the engine had a lot of work to do, but it felt well-suited to the job.
With the pedal to the floor, the engine sounded great, but cruising along, there really wasn’t much other noise that made its way into the cabin. It handled corners like a full-size truck, but when the road wasn’t too curvy, the ride was amazingly comfortable and quiet. While it wasn’t necessarily engaging to drive, it was certainly enjoyable. I might not have expected to, but I actually really enjoyed driving it.
Looking at it on paper, the Lexus LX 570 is a difficult vehicle to understand. It’s even more expensive than a Lexus LS, it’s incredibly heavy, it gets terrible gas mileage, and it comes packed with off-road ability that would be hard to justify taking advantage of in such a nice car. It’s also in a narrow segment that’s dominated by Range Rover, a vehicle with much more caché.
Behind the wheel though, it’s easy to forget that it doesn’t make sense. You just enjoy being in it. Maybe you wanted that Lexus LS but live in an area where snow and ice close down certain roads in the winter. Maybe you have a lot of property and want your car to be able to drive across it. Maybe you have a boat that you need to tow to your lake house. Maybe you’d like a Range Rover, but prefer a vehicle that you can depend on to be reliable day in and day out. If so, then maybe the Lexus LX 570 is for you.
It may be a vehicle with a very niche appeal, and it may not sell in huge numbers every year, but there’s a lot to be said for a car that doesn’t try to appeal to everybody. And hey, if you really did buy one and take it off-road, how awesome would that be?