The Toyota Land Cruiser is dead. Long live the Lexus LX570. Should anybody miss America’s Most Expensive Toyota? Should we rightfully be singing hosannas because this snazzy Lexus version only costs $995 more to start (or even $1,335 less than the last Land Cruiser Heritage Edition we sampled)? Maybe not.
Is the Lexus LX570 Luxurious Enough?
Luxury has been liberally applied to this gussied Toyota Land Cruiser in the form of shiny zebrano-like walnut wood veneers, red perforated semi-aniline leather seats, and lovely stitched materials adorning the dash, door uppers, and center console. And yet the legacy architecture hamstrings the LX570 with old-fashioned artifacts like the small, low-resolution info screen between the analog dials and the generations-old infotainment display that still doesn’t support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and must be controlled by that somewhat cantankerous joystick/mouse haptic user interface. There is a nice color head-up display as a modern touch, but there is no lane centering, just departure warning. Even the CD player seems quaint at this point. Oh, and because it still uses a mechanical shift lever instead of an electronic one, you don’t get the under-console stowage most new SUVs offer nowadays.
Is the Lexus LX570 Too Capable?
All the luxury trappings seem entirely at odds with this truck’s impressive capability, and we fret that this will dissuade owners from ever utilizing its many incredible features. Like the turn-circle-tightening inside-rear brake locker, the center differential lock, the four different off-road modes, and the high-clearance height-adjustable suspension. Features like these, along with Toyota’s legendary durability, have made the Land Cruiser the vehicle of choice for United Nations Blue Helmet brigades and wild-game tour operators around the world. This impressive set of features totally inspired us to take a recent Midnight Black Metallic Land Cruiser Heritage Edition out to a local off-road park for muddin’ and rock-crawling. But when this Onyx Black LX570 arrived, it seemed too shiny and pretty to risk marring the paint with a branch stripe or getting mud on the carpets. That’s why this gear is just vastly more at home in a Toyota that it is in a Lexus. Then again, we get that the bill of materials adds up to a more Lexus-like sticker price, so the Toyota is being discontinued in the U.S. at the end of 2021 and now 99.5 percent of these vehicles sold from here on out will likely never tiptoe off the pavement until the third owner replaces the front bumper with a high-clearance, high-strength steel piece.
Laughable Third Row Now Optional!
Gigantic, three-ton SUVs should be able to comfortably carry adults in all three rows, but now Lexus is alone in the full-size luxury three-row market as it soldiers on with a live-axle rear suspension and the high floor that design dictates. In addition to robbing third-row passengers of a recessed footwell, this rig’s floor is so high you can’t even fold the seat down into it. Instead, the third bench splits and folds up against the sides of the cargo hold, robbing space and visibility. The good news is that nowadays you can order a two-row Lexus LX570 and save yourself $5,000. (There is no option for captain’s chairs in the middle row with this configuration, however.)
Environmentalists Rank LX570 Second Worst!
It may not shock you to learn that greenercars.org, a site that rates vehicles on their environmental friendliness, crowned our current reigning Truck of the Year, the 702-hp supercharged Ram TRX, the “Meanest” of all models available in the U.S. with a score on their proprietary Environmental Damage Index of 2.80 and a Green Score of 22. It utterly shocked us to find the Lexus LX570 in second place on that list with an EDX of 2.41 and a Green Score of 27. For reference, at the other end of the spectrum, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric ranked as Greenest, scoring 0.60 and 70.
That EDX number is an interesting one that represents the dollar cost per mile in environmental damage of operating the vehicle over an assumed 150,000-mile useful life. The figure incorporates not only the regulated pollutants generated while driving (using EPA test results), but also the lifetime environmental effect of manufacturing and disposing of it, as well as from the production and distribution of the fuel it uses. The environmental cost attributable to CO2 on average now accounts for 80 percent of the EDX costs attributable to driving the vehicles, while vehicle curb weight is the determining factor for calculating manufacturing and disposal cost estimates. So the double whammy of an EPA rating of 12/16/14 mpg city/highway/combined and a curb weight of 6,000 pounds is what landed the LX570 in second-to-last place (for the record, a slightly better 12/17/14-mpg EPA rating earned the Toyota Land Cruiser a two-position advantage, with an EDX of 2.32 and Green Score of 28). Among the luxury three-row SUV competitive set, the Lincoln Navigator ranks Greenest with an EDX of 1.98 and Green Score of 33, though it appears the Escalade diesel has yet to be ranked.
Should I Buy a Lexus LX570?
Buyers who have risen through the automotive price ranks in the Toyota/Lexus family may find a familiar comfort in the LX570 that they’d never get in a Lincoln Navigator, a GMC Yukon Denali, or Cadillac Escalade (but might possibly in an Infiniti QX80). The size, shape, and feedback of all the various controls just scream Toyota—in a very good way. But it’s hard for us to picture an objective buyer sampling all these jumbotron luxe-UVs and picking the Lexus. Unless maybe they’re UN Blue Helmet veterans…
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