What do you get the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series Sahara owner, who already has everything, when they’re looking for a new 4WD? A Lexus LX570? That suggestion might not be quite as strange as you think…
The LandCruiser Sahara has, for some time now, represented the very best in the LandCruiser range. Despite its towering price of $118,500 plus on road costs, you still see plenty of them kitted up and covered in dust when you traverse the wide open plains of regional Australia.
There’s no doubt that LandCruiser owners use their 4WDs the way they were intended – maybe a little less than they used to, but still in significant numbers.
In standard Lexus form, the LX570 isn’t available with a turbo diesel like the Sahara, but even if you did get a petrol V8 Sahara, you get less power and torque from an engine that is 1000cc smaller. They do say ‘bigger is better’, too, remember.
Unlike the 100 Series before it, the 200 Series took a little while to gain, ahem, traction in the market – something the experts put down to its styling and price. You can see that there’s a theme developing here. Really expensive, not exactly pretty, but still seriously capable 4WDs. That includes the LX570.
We’d be lying through our teeth if we said you’d likely ever see a single LX570 anywhere off-road, but they are genuinely capable, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve tested the LX570 off-road before and it loses none of the platform’s off-road chops.
With the cost of a high-end diesel Sahara now ballooning to $118,500 plus on-road costs, there is another option for buyers who might not want to access the hardcore off-road ability and bush-bashing prowess. Depending on how you look at it, that option might even have more inner-city street cred.
Enter the Lexus LX570, with pricing starting from $140,500.
For our left-field comparo here, we’ve taken the most expensive Sahara (the diesel) and the LX570, which is just all-round expensive. We’re working on the theory that if you’re spending around 150 grand on-the-road on a whopping big 4WD, a few litres of fuel per hundred kilometres is neither here nor there, so let’s forget the fuel usage advantages of the oiler.
On the subject of 150 grand, the LX570 you see here actually has the Lexus ‘enhancement pack’ fitted, which adds a not inconsiderable $16,500 to the asking price, taking it up to $157,000 plus on road costs.
If you think these numbers are a bit silly, consider: a fully-kitted Land Rover Discovery, which has the off-road ability to match the LC200, will cost you nearly 100 grand. Along that same line, a Range Rover Vogue, which has the inclusions and luxury to match the LX570, will cost well over 200 grand.
If you don’t like the current styling of the Lexus product portfolio, it goes without saying that you probably won’t like the super-sized, and somewhat confronting visage of the LX570.
It’s big, it’s proud and it’s in your face. In fact, the front end looks like it might eat your face if you piss it off, a bit like the Predator. Handle the LX570 gently, then.
The LC200 Sahara, on the other hand, is much more conservative and arguably now at its most attractive stylistically, since the 200 Series was first launched nearly a decade ago.
The front end sculpting especially seems to find favour with a lot more punters than the first iteration of the new ‘Cruiser did back in 2008.
Under the bonnet
You might be wondering whether anyone really needs a 5.7-litre petrol-guzzling V8 4WD the size of a B-double and the answer is, no, they don’t. Doesn’t stop people buying them, though.
The aforementioned bent-eight churns out 270kW and 530Nm and sounds sinister as it bellows all the way up to redline. Lexus reckons the LX570 can get 14.4L/100km on the combined cycle and we used 18.5L/100km.
Get too enthusiastic with your right foot too often though and that figure will skyrocket. You’ll easily see numbers into the 20s if you get too enthusiastic with the right pedal.
The turbo-diesel V8 underneath the Sahara’s bulging bonnet on the other hand offers up 200kW and 650Nm. It doesn’t sound as pure as the naturally-aspirated petrol V8, obviously, but there’s a pleasing roar as the revs pile on.
Toyota claims 9.5L/100km on the combined cycle. After a week behind the wheel, we used 13.2L/100km, which is pretty damn impressive for an extra large 4WD.
On the road
The Sahara flies under the radar in a way the LX570 can never hope to emulate. Everywhere you go in the LX570, other road users will be looking at it. They’re either wondering whether they’re about to be stampeded by an enormous black monster, or weighing up how ugly they think it is. The Sahara just rolls round town like any other LandCruiser. Don’t buy an LX570 if you’re a shrinking violet.
The problem with the LX570 is that the monstrous grunt generated by the V8 engine encourages you to blast around town in a manner that the suspension system – not to mention the body’s heft – was never designed to harness.
The LX570 handles like a poorly-loaded cargo ship at the limit, lurching and rolling between corners, shifting body weight with expansive flourishes and doing nothing that could remotely be referred to as ‘handling’. The whole sideshow gets its own soundtrack too – wailing tyres.
General ride compliance is beautiful, though, and despite the large wheel and tyre package, the LX570 is rarely fussed by any road surface or imperfection, no matter how nasty. Messing around with the suspension settings doesn’t really change matters either. There’s nothing dynamic about the LX570.
You’ll be grinning like a loon when you push the LX570 into some corners, that’s for sure. Maybe because of the sheer terror, or mainly because the power level is so ridiculous in a 4WD that has absolutely no need for it. Either way, our spirited country drive was entertaining to say the least.
The ‘Cruiser, on the other hand, offers up the lazy and seemingly effortless torque we so love from diesel engines, and therefore encourages you to drive in a much more sedate manner.
You’re never pushed into a metaphorical corner that sees you punching out of it like a race car driver like you are with the LX570. As such, the 200’s relaxed gait means less body roll and less wallow, offset by the same ingrained ride comfort. Around town, over Sydney’s pathetic road surfaces, the LC200 is utterly unfazed.
It glides over any imperfection, and passengers in all three rows reported complete comfort at all times. The family 4WD buyer will appreciate the way the LC200 just gets on with the task at hand, without ever displaying a ruffled feather.
In the cabin
It’s here where the two vehicles diverge most from their shared platform. Where the LC200 is utilitarian, the LX570 has every luxury feature you can think of, and probably a few that you haven’t.
Run through some of the LX570’s standard feature highlights and you’ll need to take a deep breath: heated front seats, driver’s side memory function, electric steering column adjustment, front-mounted cool box, electric sliding second row seats, electric folding third row seats, power tailgate, Mark Levinson sound system, 12.0-inch media screen, and satellite navigation with traffic updates.
Standard safety kit is also extensive with the LX, as you’d expect. It’s got surround view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, forward collision warning, auto braking, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control, ten airbags, and lap sash seat belts across all eight seating positions.
Where the LX570 has a feeling of overt luxury, the LC200 is a more work-friendly environment. It’s still comfortable and well appointed, but it can’t match the Lexus’ feel for refinement, overall finish and luxury.
What both these 4WDs do exceedingly well is offer up a comfortable, cocooned and quiet environment inside which you can tackle the daily grind.
Both can be used to convey five or more adults across long distances without ever making anyone in the cabin feel tired. If you plan on heading off-road, you’re obviously going to opt for the LC200, but around town, the LX570 definitely comes into its own.
So, would the LC200 buyer see benefit in considering an LX570? Probably not, but the suggestion isn’t quite as mad as it seems. Buyers at this end of the spectrum are already spending a huge wad of cash anyway, and the LX570 has so much standard equipment over the LC200, you can almost justify the towering price. Almost.
Regardless, both of these 4WDs pack Toyota reliability, an extensive service network and the knowledge that they will keep plugging away for years to come.
Now if we can just come to terms with the LX570’s styling…
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Christian Barbeitos.