I’ve always had a soft spot for the Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s the vehicle that shepherded me home from the hospital when I was born. Well, if you are at all familiar with the old Land Cruiser, I’m here to tell you that things have changed. A lot. The Land Cruiser seen here, a 2017 model that Toyota graciously loaned me for a week, now starts at, are you ready for this, just over $84,000! So you may be asking, is it any good. The answer is a definite “yes” but there is a problem or two – the other SUVs in the Toyota and Lexus lineup.
It’s not hard to see the appeal of Toyota and Lexus sport utility vehicles. You get sizeable family haulers with nice interiors, lots of gadgets, and that legendary Toyota reliability. With three kids, I find myself almost constantly in the market for some sort of family vehicle. So, while driving around the DC area doing family things, it wasn’t hard to picture myself in this Land Cruiser on a more full-time basis. This spurred a discussion with my wife, exactly where does this truck fit into the Toyota and Lexus lineup.
The LX 570
It’s not hard to see that the Land Cruiser is incredibly similar to the Lexus LX 570, because it is. A quick check of the specs and dimensions confirms this. You get the same 5.7L V8 engine, only you eek out 2 extra horsepower and 2 extra foot pounds of torque in the Lexus (383hp and 403 ft.-lbs.)…but you magically need to put premium gas in it, where the Toyota version takes regular unleaded. You get an 8-speed shiftable automatic. Both, understandably have the same Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined) of 13 / 18 / 15 mpg which is interesting since the Land Cruiser is a bit lighter.
Wheelbase is an identical 112.2 inches. Width, height, and length are all comparably similar; but not identical, Lexus lengthens the LX by 5 inches which is odd considering the passenger head, leg, and shoulder room are all nearly identical. Other than that, the Lexus nets you 2” bigger wheels (20” vs. 18” on the Toyota) and you get better warranties all around, but you also pay a bit more. The LX starts at $84,980, which is only slightly more than the Cruiser, but to get a three row version it’ll cost you $89,980.
So on the face of things, this isn’t that much of a problem. It’s a Toyota, that you can also get as a Lexus, but it’ll cost you a bit more.
The GX 460
No, you start to get really into a quandary when you compare the Land Cruiser to the Lexus GX 460. The GX is another 3-row SUV from Lexus that comes standard with a V8, albeit a smaller 4.6L version with 301 hp and 329 ft,-lbs. but slightly better gas mileage at 15 / 18 / 16 mpg. That could also be due to its more trim curb weight (5199 pounds compared to close to three full tons for the aforementioned Land Cruiser and LX). From there, if you start to look at overall dimensions, the GX is clearly smaller, but sizable. Overall width is 3” less, height is nearly identical, length is less than 3” difference, and wheelbase is also only a couple inches off of the Land Cruiser’s. So if you are a family buyer looking for 3-rows in a luxury SUV, the GX is pretty darn close to the Land Cruiser.
Oh and it’s starting MSRP is just $51,855* which is over $32,000 less than the Land Cruiser. That’s like a Toyota Camry’s difference. Ramp up to the GX 460 Premium and you get upgraded leather and wood trim, plus a separate climate control zone for the 3rd row. That still only costs you $56,300. Plateau at the top of the range and you’re riding out of the Lexus dealer in a GX 460 Luxury, which is a $63,230 SUV with adaptive variable suspension, even further uprated leather, available captain’s chairs, and a power folding third row. That’s still almost $21,000 less than the Cruiser I’m driving this week (base price to base price) and you also get the better Lexus warranties.
But that’s not even the biggest smack in the face for the top of the line Land Cruiser.
But what if you really what that big V8 and can’t really see yourself in something as “small” as the GX? Well hell, look right next to the Land Cruiser in the showroom and you’ll see its biggest competitor. The Toyota Sequoia. Same engine (and like the Cruiser, only takes regular gas) but you drop down to a measly 6-speed automatic and overall fuel economy is about the same at 13 / 17 / 14 mpg. The real story is in the measurements. The Sequoia has more ground clearance, it’s wider, it’s taller, it’s a full 10” longer, and has another 10” of wheelbase. Yes, it’s more “truck based” than the others, but it’s also the largest option here, by a good measure. That mostly translates into more room inside, the only place the Land Cruiser wins is in headroom, but with almost 35” the Sequoia should still be good if you’re the starting center at the University of Kentucky.
In most Sequoia trim levels, all but the base SR5, you also bump back to 20” wheels like the LX, and continually add a slew of great options all the way up to the $64,000 Platinum model. You’ll add a few grand for 4WD but the Platinum comes with just about every option available on the Tundra-based Sequoia. Yeah, the platform is a bit dated, and this iteration has existed since 2008, but it’s a hell of an SUV for the money. If I were in a Toyota or Lexus showroom looking for a 3-row SUV, and I may be soon, the Sequoia would get a hard look.
So I just spent 1000 words talking about other Toyota and Lexus products, but it’s an important part of the Land Cruiser’s identity. How does it fit within its own lineup? The answer is, that it doesn’t really, but it’s still a phenomenal truck. This isn’t a volume vehicle for Toyota, according to our friends over at Good Car Bad Car, they only sell around 3000-4000 per year here in the U.S. They sell three times as many Sequoias, around twice as many Lexus LX’s, and about eight times as many Lexus GX’s. A friend who works for a Toyota dealer in Northern California said that they typically only get a couple Land Cruiser’s per year.
So who are the 3000-4000 people per year that spend $80,000 on a Land Cruiser? I have no clue, perhaps the lifelong Toyota buyer who has continued to move up the Toyota food chain? They started back in the 1990s with a RAV4, eventually traded that for a Highlander, maybe a 4Runner, jumped up to a Sequoia and eventually reached “screw it, give me the Cruiser”? I’m not sure there is an answer, car buyers operate via a lot of variables, many of which are difficult to comprehend.
Suffice to say, the Land Cruiser is a fantastic thing, and I’m glad it exists. Even if I am curious who is buying them.