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Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara and Lexus LX570 2016 review


The massive SUVs are twins under the skin but have grown apart over the years.

There was a time when Lexus just grabbed a Toyota, slapped a new badge on the bonnet, covered the seats in leather and called the vehicle its own.

Things have changed and Lexus now goes to great pains to separate itself from its parent company, producing bespoke cars on different platforms with distinctive styling.

Even the "twins-under-the-skin" — ES sedan and NX and LX SUVs — look and feel different.

The LX used to look so much like a LandCruiser you'd mix them up in the carpark but now the Lexus has discrete new front and rear ends and the cabin has different architecture to match the up-market materials. Here is how the pair differs.

Value

At $140,500, the LX570 is $22,000 more than the top of the range LandCruiser Sahara, which puts it behind the eight ball on price.

For that you get bigger wheels, a larger and more modern looking 12.3-inch centre screen, electric handbrake, extra safety gear, head-up display, adjustable ride height suspension and a "drive select" mode to vary throttle, transmission, suspension and steering settings.

Standard fare on both includes twin DVD screens for rear passengers, leather trim, satnav, four-zone climate control and sunroof. Lexus provides a longer four-year warranty but no capped price servicing, which Toyota has on the LandCruiser for a reasonable $1320 over three years. They're the same size but prestige paint adds $1154 to the Lexus and $580 to the Toyota.

Design

Lexus has given the LX 570 a comprehensive styling overhaul inside and out, with new front and rear panels and a cabin design that distances it from the LandCruiser. Dimensions and basic equipment are the same yet it looks and feels like a more expensive vehicle.

Some will prefer the more conservative looks of the LandCruiser over Lexus's in-your-face grille and sharper panel creases. The latter gains a more modern appearance from the bigger, lower-profile wheels and the wider use of space-age looking LEDs.

Inside the Lexus, the big screen, head-up display, ambient lighting and leather-woodgrain treatments lift the cabin to another level while the LandCruiser looks and feels a little down-market and dated in comparison. Where the Lexus has plush pile and soft imitation leather panels, the Cruiser has harder plastics, cheaper-looking woodgrain and a smaller, old-tech screen. It also lacks some of the techno gadgetry of the Lexus, including the head-up display.

Engine

Here's where the two diverge the most. The range-topping Sahara has a 4.5-litre V8 diesel while the LX goes with a 5.7-litre petrol job. There's no doubt the LX engine is quieter and smoother — and more befitting a luxury vehicle, perhaps — but it lacks the low-down grunt of the diesel. Off-the-line performance is strong (0-100km/h in 7.7 secs) but fuel consumption is a little frightening around town at a claimed 20.2L/100km to the LandCruiser's 11.2L. The Lexus claims an average 14.4L to the Cruiser's 9.5L.

The LX's eight-speed auto shifts smoothly and swiftly and suits the engine's free-revving nature, making it a sportier drive than the Sahara's six-speeder.

The Cruiser's V8 may be down on power and cubic capacity but its more accessible and more abundant torque is handy when you're lugging around 2.7 tonnes. Peak torque in the Toyota, 650Nm, is on tap from a low 1600rpm compared with 530Nm at 3200rpm for the LX. It won't win the traffic light drag but it never feels underdone for performance and would prove a better tow vehicle.

Safety

Only the LandCruiser has a five-star crash rating because the LX sells too few to undergo testing. Each benefits from a substantial midlife upgrade, bringing them up to scratch with the rest of the segment. Ten airbags provide strong crash protection while driver aids now include active cruise control, lane departure warning, adaptive high beam, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

Driving

Neither SUV will feel nimble on the road. Steering is vague, there's plenty of lean and body roll through corners and they pitch noticeably under brakes.

To be fair, they are both more comfortable off-road and on the freeway where they are supremely comfortable cruisers, with excellent noise suppression in the cabin.

The only surprise is that the LandCruiser rides better. Its smaller diameter wheels with deeper tyre sidewalls soak up bumps and corrugations better than the lower-profile rubber on the Lexus, which makes for a wobbly ride on suburban roads.

Verdict

It's easy to be seduced by the Lexus's more sumptuous cabin. The LandCruiser's more frugal diesel is strong as an ox and its better sorted ride give it the points victory.

Toyota LandCruiser Sahara diesel

Price from: $118,500 plus on-roads
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Servicing: $1320 over 3 years
Service interval: 6 months/10,000km
Safety: 10 airbags, 5 stars
Engine: 4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel, 200kW/650Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto; 4WD
Thirst: 9.5L/100km
Dimensions: 4990mm (L), 1980mm (W), 1945mm (H), 2850mm (WB)
Weight: 2740kg
Spare: Full-size alloy
Towing: 3500kg

Click here for more 2016 Toyota LandCruiser Sahara Diesel price and spec info

Lexus LX 570

Price from: $140,500 plus on-roads
Warranty: 4 years/100,000km
Capped servicing: No
Service interval: 6 months/10,000km
Safety: 10 airbags, not tested
Engine: 5.7-litre V8, 270kW/530Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto; 4WD
Thirst: 14.4L/100km
Dimensions: 5080mm (L), 1980mm (W), 1865mm (H), 2850mm (WB)
Weight: 2740kg
Spare: Full-size alloy
Towing: 3500kg

Click here for more 2016 Lexus LX570 price and spec info

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