Driven: 2014 Lexus LX570

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It’s not often I find myself daydreaming of rising to political prominence in a third-world banana republic somewhere; in fact, that’s never run through my mind. But after a few days of rolling around in a Lexus LX570 (aka the “Lexus Land Cruiser”), mindsets tend to change.

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The Land Cruiser (and for the purposes of this article, the LX570 by association) is the transport of choice for organizations as disparate as the UN and various central African warlords, not because of the image, but the capability. The Toyota, in its various forms, will swallow all manner of people and cargo and carry them to the ends of the jungle, desert, or what have you – time and time again. 300,000-plus mile used Land Cruisers and LXs regularly pop up on eBay and Auto Trader, looking little worse for wear. They even retain their value incredibly well beyond 150,000 miles. I know because I’ve longed to snap one up for some time, though they never seem to fall into my price range.

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The LX570 is little more than a Land Cruiser’s capable underpinnings slathered with a thick layer of luxury up top. Our loaded tester featured buttery-soft semi-aniline leather, a dual-screen rear DVD system, power-operated second and third row seats, heated and ventilated front chairs, and a kickin’ 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. All of that is almost enough to make you forget about the locking center differential, selectable low-range and multiple terrain settings (my particular favorite being “moguls”) and a host of other sophisticated features designed to take you through the mud in complete air conditioned comfort.

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There’s not much in the way of jungle thicket to be conquered in my section of Florida, but nonetheless, an impromptu trip to an isolated stretch of beach presented absolutely no challenge to the LX’s four-wheel drive system, making me wish for hillier, rockier trails to test it on. Lexus corporate might not approve of such antics, however, given the $89,805 sticker price one must contend with in exchange for all this capability. That’s not to say the Lexus isn’t worth that much to owners; in fact, there aren’t too many vehicles these days that feel engineered to go 300,000 miles without breaking a sweat or the owner’s bank account in the process. The Lexus is one of the few. And a Range Rover, the first natural competitor that comes to mind, will set a buyer back even more for a loaded luxury trail-hopper – though believe it or not, the Land Cruiser actually possesses an even-more-storied history than that legendary marque, coming to market years before the first Range Rover turned a wheel off-road.

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In the years since, the Land Cruiser and its Lexus twin featured here has burnished a granitic reputation for itself, not only for off-road capability but for comfort, durability and reliability as well. I’d be lucky to count myself among the ranks of owners someday, if only that pesky political campaign would work itself out.

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2014 Lexus LX570

Base price: $82,690

Price as tested: $89,805

Options on test car: Luxury package ($1,510), Mark Levinson audio system ($2,350), Intuitive Park Assist ($1,000), Dual-screen DVD system ($2,005), Cargo mat ($105), Cargo net ($64), Wheel locks ($81)

Powertrain: 5.7-liter V8 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission – 383 horsepower, 403 lb-ft torque

S:S:L-observed fuel economy: 15.5 mpg

Lexus provided the vehicle for testing purposes and one tank of gas. Photos by the author.

 

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