Lexus RX VS Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota Land Cruiser
- Excellent off road
- Comfy cabin
- Good all-round package
- Lacking safety tech
- Short service intervals
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
For those of us unlucky enough to remember the first Lexus RX to launch in Australia, the memories aren’t the fondest.
If you can’t remember it, just picture the stodgiest-looking SUV you can - make it so bland a mere picture of one could cure insomnia - dragging a glass-walled cube behind the rear wheels.
All of which makes the current-generation RX so incredible. I mean, just look at it; those big rims, the 3D-effect grille, the outrageous lines and creases. It’s about as far removed from its snooze-worthy predecessors as it is possible to get.
Little wonder, then, it has emerged as the second-strongest performer in the Lexus line-up. And with the RX recently refreshed (and with a seven-seat RX L model added for the first time) its high time we took a closer look at the Japanese premium brand’s large SUV.
Read More: Lexus RX 450h 2018 review: snapshot
Read More: Lexus RX 450hL 2018 review: snapshot
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Read More: Lexus RX 300 2018 review: snapshot
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Toyota Land Cruiser
If you’ve seen our most recent comparison test where we put the Toyota Prado up against some of its fiercest rivals, you will know that the Toyota impressed us on many levels.
That comparison - where it went up against the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Ford Everest and its sibling, the Toyota Fortuner - saw us put the GXL variant of the Prado range through plenty of stress tests.
Read More:Best off-road 4x4 SUV: We compare the Toyota Prado, Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest & Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
But we thought we’d do a standalone deep dive review on the Toyota Prado GXL 2020 model - in case you don’t really care how it compares, and just want to figure out if you’re making the right decision choosing this variant. This review will help. We promise.
|Engine Type||2.8L turbo|
A comfortable and ferociously well-equipped offering (even from the cheapest trim level) - and with a very good ownership package to boot - the RX has earned its place high in the Lexus pecking order.
There are faster, more pulse-quickening SUVs available, of course, but as a sedate suburban warrior, the RX is hard to fault. For ours, we'd be opting for the bang-for-bucks sweet spot of the Luxury trim, paired with the punchy-but-efficient hybrid powertrain.
Toyota Land Cruiser7.6/10
There’s a reason so many people opt for the Toyota Prado, and plenty of those choose the GXL model, too. It’s a very impressive family off-roader that can tackle rough terrain straight out of the showroom, but also offer comfortable, family-friendly progress in daily driving as well.
It is showing its age and starting to lack some tech, but there’s no doubt it will continue to sell well because if you can overlook those shortcomings, it’s a highly impressive four-wheel drive.
This current RX is like the butterfly that’s emerged from the caterpillar-cocoon of the older models, looking plenty premium and serving up road presence by the bagful.
No matter which model you go for, you’ll find the angry 'Spindle Grille' up front (which, for ours, is reminiscent of the Predator’s toothy grin, while 20-inch alloys are an impressive size, and a very un-Lexus body kit wraps from the front end all the way around to the rear spoiler.
The interior (check out the interior photos for a closer look) is premium-feeling, if a little busy, with the doors and dash covered in a combination of soft-touch materials and padded leather.
The brushed aluminium-look central tunnel that separates the front seats is super wide, as it houses the cupholders, drive-mode selector and the strange mousepad that controls the entertainment system, but feels nice under the touch and becomes a kind of focal point in the cabin.
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
In terms of dimensions and size, the Prado is pretty compact when it has the Flat Tailgate pack. The length is 4825mm (on a 2790mm wheelbase), width is 1885mm and height is 1890mm. Add the spare tyre to the back door, and it pushes out to 4995mm.
I actually think the Flat Tailgate pack is one of the most interesting elements of the Prado’s design. The company has gone to the trouble of eradicating the rear-mounted spare, but still kept the side-swinging back door, which can be a pain in the neck if you’re trying to access the boot but have parked close to a wall or a car behind has parked you in.
But there is a trick - the tailgate glass opens separately to the boot, which can be a saviour in situations like that… unless you’re loading or unloading something long, awkwardly shaped or heavy, or you’re shorter in stature as you might struggle to reach.
The exterior design of the Prado has been treated well over the years it has been around, and it still looks smart enough to catch your eye despite being ubiquitous. The muscular grille, squared-off haunches and beefy stance help.
While design is more often equated with styling, or how a car looks, in 4x4s like this there is more than just the aesthetic of the metalwork to consider. They’ve also gotta be designed to deal with the rough stuff.
So, cue important specs for off-road enthusiasts: approach angle - 30.4 degrees; departure angle - 23.5 degrees; break-over/ramp-over angle - 21.1 degrees; ground clearance (mm) - 219; wading depth (mm) - 700; turning circle/radius - 11.6m.
With dimensions stretching 4890mm long and 1895mm wide, the RX sits squarely in the large SUV category, and there’s plenty of space for riders in both the first and second row.
Up front, there is a cup holder for both driver and passenger and extendable pockets in each of the front doors, and the deep cubby that separates the front seats adds plenty of storage space, and is home to two USB connections, a power outlet and and aux connection, but there is no sunglass holder.
The interior dimensions ensure there’s plenty of space in the back seat, although the central stack that houses the air vents and another power outlet does jut out into the rear legroom of the middle-seat passenger. There are two bonus cupholders hidden in a pulldown divider that drops from the middle seat, and two ISOFIX attachment points along the backseat.
Open the automatic tailgate (by waving your hand in front of the Lexus badge) and you’ll find 453 litres of luggage capacity, with boot space increasing to 942 litres by folding the backseat down. Theres’s a sliding cargo cover (the SUV version of a tonneau cover), too.
Toyota Land Cruiser9/10
Unlike some of its closest competitors, the Prado is a purpose-built off-roader family SUV, where the others are derived from dual-cab utes. That means it’s wider and a bit more passenger friendly - even if there are things that we wish were a bit better, like the space on offer with all seven seats in play.
The Prado offers a meagre 104 litres (VDA) with all seven seats up, which is less than all of its main rivals. With five seats up there’s 553L (VDA), and if you fold down all the rear seats you should have 974L (VDA) at your disposal.
There are roof rails if you want to fit a roof rack and luggage pod, or if you don’t need all seven seats and plan to use the boot all the time, a cargo barrier is available. Maybe get a luggage liner while you’re at it.
As mentioned, all three rows have air vents and there’s a fan controller as well, and there’s a third climate zone so those in the rear can set the temp as desired.
If you happen to draw the short straw and end up in the back row, you’ll be pleased that the ingress and egress is excellent. The door opening is large, meaning easy access, but taller occupants might struggle for head room, and you’ll need to make sure those in front slide the seats forward to allow better third row space. Some other SUVs in this space don’t offer a sliding second row.
In the middle row there’s good width to the seat, feeling comfortable and accommodating for adults. There’s easily enough knee room, headroom and shoulder space for three adults to fit side by side. There are cup holders in a flip-down armrest (though they are weirdly shaped), and bottle holders in the doors. Rearmost occupants have cup holders as well.
Up front the seats offer good adjustment, and there’s a level of intuitiveness to the way the Prado’s cockpit is laid out. Everything falls to hand easily, and the storage is mostly good, with bottle holders in the doors, cup holders between the seats, a storage box below the media screen, and even a centre console bin with cooling, which is ideal for family drives.
The media screen is decent, but not great. At least there are hard buttons either side and knobs for tuning and volume, rather than on screen touch controls like you find in some other Toyotas.
Price and features
The Lexus RX arrives in plenty of trim and engine combinations, so exactly how much yours will cost is largely up to you.
The minimum RRP, though, is $74,251, which will buy you an RX300 Luxury. A little further up the price list lives the RX350 Luxury, at $81,421, which makes use of a bigger engine, while the hybrid RX450h Luxury will set you back $90,160.
The range then steps up to the second of three trim levels, the F Sport, for which you’ll be paying $86,551 for the RX300, $93,721 for the RX350 and $102,460 for the RX450h.
Finally, the range tops out with the Sport Luxury trim, which will push the budget to $92,701 for the RX300, $99,871 for the RX350 and $108,610 for the RX450h.
Okay, so that’s what you’ll be paying. But take a deep breath now, we’re dive into the model comparison.
Even the Luxury-badged cars are a premium package, arriving with 20-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, a powered tailgate, LED headlights and fog lights (with daytime running lights) , a smart key with keyless entry, roof rails and rain-sensing wipers. Inside, expect a laundry list of standard features, including dual-zone climate control, sat nav (which, as far as GPS navigation systems go, is a breeze to operate), push-button start and leather trim.
Your 8.0-inch screen (it’s not a touch screen) pairs with digital radio and 12 speakers, there’s Bluetooth for your MP3s, as well as wireless charging (though iPhones require a special case), and you get heated and cooled front seats, too. Be warned; there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto anywhere in the range.
Step up to the F Sport - a pseudo sport edition - and you’ll add a bigger, 12.3-inch infotainment screen that adds a CD player and DVD player and pairs with a better Mark Levinson sound system complete with 15 speakers (including a subwoofer). You get a new colour head-up display (HUD), too, and a whole heap of sport-flavoured styling flourishes.
Compare that to the Sport Luxury, which adds with soft leather trim elements, heated seats in the second row (vs just the front seats on the F Sport trim) and a power folding function for the backseat. There’s no heated steering wheel here, but then, who needs one in Australia? The adaptive front lighting system cn be switched off, too, should you prefer the traditional approach.
Colours include 'Titanium' (metallic grey), 'Sonic Quartz' (white), 'Premium Silver', 'Onyx' (a kind of black), 'Graphite Black', 'Vermilion' (red), 'Metallic Silk' (rose gold), 'Deep Metallic Bronze' (a fancy brown) and 'Deep Blue'.
How many seats? That would be five. If you want a third row seat, then you’re shopping for the RX L, as the standard RX is strictly a five-seat affair.
A thick accessories catalogue includes specialty floor mats, roof rack and boot liner options, bull bar, nudge bar and rear seat entertainment system options, as well as a panoramic sunroof, which will set you back $3675. You won't find Homelink though (which automatically opens your garage door), as it's yet to be made available in Australia.
Toyota Land Cruiser8/10
The 2020 Toyota Prado GXL has a list price of $63,690 before on-road costs. That’s for the automatic model - deduct $3000 if you’re going with a manual.
Our car had the $3463 Premium Interior option pack, which added leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, and heated second row seats. That pack, as well as its optional premium paint ($600) pushed its as-tested price to $67,753.
If you’re interested, there’s a Flat Tailgate pack available for the GXL automatic (also the VX and Kakadu), which deletes the tailgate mounted spare wheel in favour of a spare mounted under the car body. It downsizes the fuel tank from 150L to 87L and that’s how our car came - it doesn’t cost any extra.
In addition, the Prado comes decently kitted out for the cash, with standard items including 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights, auto headlights, side steps, and keyless entry with push button start.
Other standard inclusions comprise a three-zone climate control with rear vents and rear fan controller, leather steering wheel, a 230-volt powerpoint in the boot, a nine-speaker sound system teamed to an 8.0-inch touchscreen media unit with sat nav, USB port (x1), AM/FM radio and CD player. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
Safety spec is adequate for the class, but certainly not exceptional - read the safety section below for a rundown.
If your curious about colours available for the Prado, there are a few to choose: Glacier White and Ebony are the only no-cost choices, while optional premium ($600) colours include Peacock Black metallic, Dusty Bronze metallic, Graphite grey metallic, Wildfire red metallic, Crystal Pearl white, Silver Pearl and Eclipse Black mica.
Engine & trans
There are three (petrol) engine size options on offer; a turbocharged 2.0-litre in the RX300, a punchy V6 in the RX350 and a hybrid set-up in the RX450.
First up, the four-cylinder turbo engine serves up 175kW/350Nm (decent specs for a smaller engine), channelling it through a six-speed automatic gearbox and sending it on to the front wheels.
The six-cylinder petrol engine is good for 221kW/370Nm, sending that power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The hybrid (it’s not a plug-in hybrid) option uses the exact same engine, but paired with an electric motor that lifts the total output to 230kW/335Nm. That combination pairs with a CVT auto, sending its horsepower to all four wheels.
All are petrol powered (there are no diesel or LPG options, and no manual transmission, for that matter), and for ours, the combined engine specs of the hybrid powertrain make the most - and most expensive - sense.
While the Luxury, F-Sport and Sport Luxury models all have adjustable drive modes (including Eco mode), tweaking throttle response and gearing, only the Sport Luxury serves up true variable suspension.
The F Sport and Sport Luxury also make use of the Lexus AWD system (though 4WD aficionados will notice the lack of low range that prevents it being a true 4x4). The RX300 is front-wheel drive, with no rear-wheel drive options anywhere in the range.
Expect a braked towing capacity of at least 1000kg (provided you’ve picked a tow bar/tow hitch receiver from the accessories catalogue) with a gross vehicle weight that starts from 2500kg.
For reported problems and maintenance, including transmission problems, battery and oil type, and changing your timing belt or chain, see our owner’s page.
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
The engine specs are familiar if you’ve encountered a Prado in recent years. The motor is a 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine, producing 130kW of power (at 3400rpm) and 450Nm of torque (at 1600-2400rpm).
In this part of the market, most models are close on horsepower and torque - only the Ford Everest Bi-turbo breaks away from the pack with 157kW and 500Nm.
Weighing up manual vs automatic? In GXL spec you can have the Prado with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission, as tested here. If you get the manual you miss out on 30Nm, too.
It has permanent four-wheel drive (4WD), so you could consider it to be all-wheel drive (AWD). What that means is there’s no need to switch to 4x4 mode when you depart the sealed stuff: there’s no 4x2 or 2WD mode.
Curious about whether the engine has a timing chain or timing belt? The answer is a timing chain.
What about towing capacity and towing specs? The Prado is capable of towing 750kg unbraked, while maximum towing capacity is 3000kg. If you’re thinking how that stacks up vs competitors, it’s there or thereabouts: the Everest and Pajero Sport can both manage 3100kg.
Love numbers? The gross vehicle mass GVM) for the Prado is 2990kg, and the gross combined mass (GCM) is 5490kg. Its maximum payload, according to Toyota, is 665kg - so keep that in mind if you’re planning to fill all seven seats and also tow a load behind.
While Toyota has made strides in the world of hybrid SUVs in other parts of the market, the Prado has no such variant available in this generation. There’s no electric, LPG, plug-in hybrid or petrol models sold here either.
For the smaller, turbocharged engine, Lexus claims fuel economy of 8.1 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, with emissions pegged at 189g/km of CO2. Stepping up to the RX350 increases fuel consumption numbers to 9.6L/100km and 223g/km, while the hybrid gets by with impressive mileage of just 5.7L/100km and 131g/km.
Expect a 72-litre fuel tank that requires 95RON fuel in the 300 and 350, while the hybrid’s fuel tank capacity is 65 litres.
Toyota Land Cruiser8/10
Fuel consumption for the Toyota Prado GXL automatic is claimed at 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres. Choose the manual and the consumption claim is 7.9L/100km.
During our on road testing - across urban, highway, and back roads - we saw an impressive diesel fuel economy return of 8.3L/100km at the pump. And there’s not even an eco mode, that’s just how efficient it was.
When it came to dirt road and off road testing, the consumption was a little less impressive, using 12.7L/100km. That may matter to you, or not.
All told, though, our combined average fuel use of 10.5L/100km over the entire testing period was decent.
The fuel tank capacity of the Flat Tailgate-equipped Prado is 87 litres - which is still bigger than an Everest or Fortuner (both 80L) or Pajero Sport (68L) - but it loses the 63-litre sub tank. So if you think you want a long range tank, you’re best off getting the standard tailgate design.
If BMW serves up the 'ultimate driving machine' and Mercedes delivers 'the best or nothing', then surely the review tag line for the RX SUV range should be 'easy like a Sunday morning'.
Sure, there are sportier-feeling SUVs - and faster ones, too - but there is an easy comfort to the way the RX goes about its business that you’ll undoubtedly appreciate more frequently than you would harder suspension, more in-touch steering and the endless pursuit of speed and 0-100 performance figures.
For the record, though, the hybrid cars will sprint from 0-100km/h in a brisk 7.7sec, a smidge quicker than the 8.0sec of the regular V6. The RX300 records a far more leisurely 9.2sec.
Probably most impressive, the RX doesn't feel overly large and cumbersome, and nor does its turning radius, and it’s equally at home in the cramped inner city as it is eating up kays on the freeway. The six- or eight-speed transmission is silky-smooth seamless, switching between cogs without you even noticing, and the cabin is commendably quiet - especially when you're coasting though the ‘burbs - locking the worst road noise outside out of the cabin.
You can inject a little excitement by selecting 'Sport' or 'Sport +' via the central dial, tweaking the accelerator and steering settings, and in Sport Luxury cars, firming up the suspension, removing some of the lolling about in corners, though there’s no air suspension.
While the F-Sport and Sport Luxury cars are AWD-equipped, the off road capability is hampered somewhat by its ground clearance, big chrome-look wheels and skirtings. This is an SUV built for the city over the bush, but you likely don’t need us to tell you that.
Toyota Land Cruiser8/10
We drove the Prado GXL on a mix of roads to see what it was like in everyday situations - and there were very few complaints, really - so long as you’re not rocketship acceleration or sports car handling, it’ll tick most of the boxes you need it to.
It is wider than its ute-based rivals and as a result it feels more planted on the road. That comes down to a wider track than most other rugged off-roaders, which gives a surefooted feel on all surfaces across a range of speeds.
The Prado’s permanent four-wheel drive ensures confident progress on damp roads, too, and it felt confident for passengers and for the driver, too.
The Prado’s steering was a bit slow and it felt slightly larger than its rivals negotiating tight streets. But it was manageable and predictable to drive.
The Prado’s engine didn’t feel punchy, but it did offer honest progress. The Prado weighs a couple of hundred kilograms more than the Fortuner, which runs the same powertrain, and in comparison the Prado feels the extra weight - it never really shoots away from a standstill.
But it is considerably more refined than its stablemate, offering a more agreeable driving experience. Not thrilling, but fine. And the six-speed automatic offered smooth and clever shifts at all speeds on road.
What about the off road review? Here it is.
The Prado made it simple to place the wheels right where you want them, no matter how rutted the tracks or slippery the sand. We had no issues with grip from the Dunlop AT20 Grandtrek tyres fitted, either - if you’re spec-curious, they were 265/65/17.
The suspension - comprising double wishbone front suspension and four-link coil spring rear suspension - allowed plenty of wheel travel, and the Prado’s well calibrated off-road traction control system and a permanent four-wheel drive system ensured smooth progress on unsealed roads. It is arguably the best bush-ready 4WD you can buy and drive into the distance from the showroom floor. And there’s a rear diff lock if you think you need it.
Sure it doesn’t have as much torque as a Ford Everest, but the Prado was excellent at delivering its grunt to the dirt effectively - all while feeling easy to drive and direct in its communication with the driver. The engine hardly ever felt stressed, and the auto transmission was effective at all speeds.
Even the cheapest RX (which, admittedly, isn’t all that cheap) arrives with a long list of standard safety features, including a reversing camera, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, AEB, lane assist and parking sensors (but no park assist).
You’ll also find 10 airbags, and twin ISOFIX mountings for you baby car seat, as well as cruise control and the usual suite of braking and traction control systems.
The Lexus RX received a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the best possible ratings outcome, when tested in 2015. The Lexus RX is built in Japan.
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
The Toyota Prado has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating - but it was awarded almost a decade ago, with the local safety body having conducted its tests way back in 2011.
They include auto emergency braking (AEB) that works from 10km/h-180km/h with pedestrian detection (that works between 10km/h-80km/h), as well as lane departure warning, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.
Missing items at this price point include cyclist detection, active lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a 360-degree camera and front parking sensors.
There are seven airbags (dual front, driver’s knee, front side and full-length curtain), and the Prado has two ISOFIX child seat anchors and three top-tether attachments for baby seats.
Where is the Toyota Prado built? Japan is the answer.
Expect a four-year/100,000km warranty (that's 12 months longer than BMW or Mercedes-Benz, so think of it as a kind of extended warranty), and the RX will require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000km.
Your first service cost is gratis, and the total maintenance cost for each service is available online - so there are no surprises at the dealership.
For common problems, complaints, issues and the like, visit our Lexus RX owner’s page. But your owner’s manual should be required reading, too. Traditionally, Lexus product ranks well in reliability ratings, resale value and initial value rating charts.
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
Toyota has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for all of its models. But if you maintain logbook servicing - it doesn’t have to be through Toyota’s network, just so long as you keep the owners manual up to date with the stamps - you will be eligible for an extended drivetrain warranty, out to seven years. That’ll help when it comes to resale value, too.
The Prado also has a capped price servicing plan, but it only spans three years/60,000km. And the service intervals are far more regular than most rivals, at six months/10,000km.
At least the maintenance is reasonably priced. Per visit you’re looking at $260. But remember, you have to go twice a year for servicing, which means an annual cost of $520.
There’s no roadside assistance included in the Toyota ownership plan.
If you’re worried about common problems, complaints, issues, engine problems, DPF issues, transmission complaints or any other defects and recalls, you should check out our Toyota Prado problems page.