Things we like

  • LX600: Road-friendly ride; torquey engine; extensive luxury features
  • LC300: Diesel grunt; surprising fuel economy; solid build quality

Not so much

  • LX600: Stiff price premium over LC; V6 rev reluctance; poxy sunroof
  • LC300: Fixed ride height; clunky infotainment; no remote second-row release

Things we like

  • LX600: Road-friendly ride; torquey engine; extensive luxury features
  • LC300: Diesel grunt; surprising fuel economy; solid build quality

Not so much

  • LX600: Stiff price premium over LC; V6 rev reluctance; poxy sunroof
  • LC300: Fixed ride height; clunky infotainment; no remote second-row release

The iconic Toyota Landcruiser is as true-blue Australian as a Christmas Day pavlova and Barnaby Joyce – in other words, not very Australian at all. Trivia people will be able to tell you that the Pavlova was named after Russian dancer Anna Pavlova and may or may not have originated in New Zealand in the early 1900s but, in reality, the recipe is far older than that and probably came from Germany.

And, before an embarrassing revelation in 2017, many might also have assumed the same of Joyce, who claimed to be as Aussie as a Vegemite flavoured boomerang. But a discovery that he was equal parts Kiwi turned his ruddy face a brighter shade of red than normal. It’s kind of the same story for the ‘Cruiser.

Scuff through the red dirt of the outback into any bush garage worth its salt and I guarantee the sunburnt grease wizard will know the head-bolt torque sequence for a Landcruiser better than a Barra.


MODELS TESTED

Lexus LX 600 Sports Luxury v Toyota LandCruiser Sahara ZX

While, out on the track, many modified 4×4 enthusiasts are familiar with the humbling feeling of summiting a particularly tricky trail, only to find a completely stock Landcruiser has beaten them to it. The Landcruiser is so intrinsically woven into the Australian automotive tapestry that it’s very easy to forget that the Toyota, of course, harks from Japan. The same, however, cannot yet be said for its plus-size SUV sibling.

There’s been so much fanfare surrounding the introduction of the new 300 Series Landcruiser, that the very closely related Lexus LX has failed to grab anywhere near as much attention, but if you’re interested in Toyota’s honorary Australian, shouldn’t you also give the all-new Lexus a look too? The answer is yes – as long as you have the budget.

The 2022 Toyota Landcruiser range kicks off with the GX but regardless of which of the six variants interest you, all are powered by a new 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel. It’s the same story for the entry point of the LX range with three LX 500d options all powered by the same drivetrain. However, there are significant differences in pricing.

While the most affordable Toyota costs $89,990, the Lexus line-up kicks off from $148,800. To level the playing field in this evaluation, we’ve grabbed the range-topping Landcruiser Sahara LX which is priced from $138,790 and from the Lexus line-up we have the $169,300 LX 600 Sports Luxury.

If this comparison was purely about price we could have opted for the cheapest Lexus for a closer money match, but it’s not. Unlike the Landcruiser range, stepping up to the middle of the LX family introduces a new engine – a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 that sips on petrol rather than diesel.

There’s been so much fanfare around the 300 Series Landcruiser that the very closely related Lexus has failed to grab anything like as much attention

While diesels were once the indisputable hard-workers and petrols traditionally synonymous with sophistication, does this brace of box-fresh motors prove the rule or change it? We head to the vineyards around Macedon to find out.

Let’s start with the proverbial engine elephant in the room. V8 diehards lament the passing of the 4.5-litre V8 diesel available in the previous Landcruiser 200 but they will find themselves decidedly dry-eyed after getting behind the wheel of the 300.

While the new donk is down on displacement, it is a vastly improved unit and the figures don’t lie. Compared with the old 4.5-litre V8, the new 3.3-litre V6 produces 227kW and 700Nm (27kW and 100Nm more) but asks for less fuel in the process.

The claim is just 8.9 litres per 100km – very respectable if true for a vehicle that weighs not a lot more than 2.6 tonnes and has proportions that definitely don’t prioritise minimal wind resistance. Engine performance is surprisingly not wildly different for the Lexus despite its opposite diet.

With 3.5 litres and a pair of turbos at its disposal, the LX 600 produces 305kW and 650Nm but where the numbers definitely don’t align is fuel consumption. With 2640kg to lug around, the V6 will use 12.1L/100km on the combined cycle, says its maker.

The surprises continue in practice. As you might expect, the six-pot diesel provides mountainous torque and pulling power when under the bonnet of the Toyota. A pair of small but eager turbos whisk up the full might of 750Nm from just 1600rpm and the Landcruiser builds speed surprisingly quickly for a 2610kg bruiser.

It’s by no means the most refined six-cylinder diesel with plenty of classic compression-ignition clatter throughout the rev range and a note that never mutes. What noise the V6 makes however, is pleasantly satisfying. It doesn’t mind a rev but hanging around the rafters with Toyota’s strong diesel is to waste its bountiful swathes of torque.

It pairs very nicely with the new 10-speed automatic transmission which, at low throttle, shifts almost imperceptibly and allows the torquey motor to hunt the higher gears and keep the revs low. An occasional reluctance to shift and a clunkiness when prodded were the only small anomalies.

Despite its heft, the LX 600 will crack 100km/h from standstill in 7.0 seconds

The similarities continue with the Lexus’s V6. Rather than some high-revving power player that wants to sit at 6000rpm all day, the 3.5-litre petrol has been engineered to deliver its performance in a more diesely fashion. There’s a little more lag than the Toyota’s engine but when its two small turbos are singing the grunt is impressive. Even more eye-opening is how the Lexus moves in a straight line.

Despite its heft, the LX 600 will crack 100km/h from standstill in just 7.0 seconds and there’s something deeply amusing about a slab-sided family mover cutting passes like a hot hatch. Unfortunately, the engine isn’t as happy revving as it is delivering low smooth performance with secondary vibrations starting to sneak in above 3500rpm.

Unlike the Landcruiser, the Lexus has steering wheel paddle shifters and while they don’t really impart a sportier feel over the Toyota, they are useful for grabbing another gear to keep the revs in the sweeter part of the range. During our time with the pair of hulks both SUVs reported higher than average fuel consumption claims of about 11L/100km for the Toyota versus around the 14L/100km mark for the Lexus.

From the driver’s seat, both vehicles initially feel very similar from the bonnet philtrum and elevated driving position to the all-round visibility and cabin space, it’s obvious this pair has a lot in common but, that said, there is still plenty to set them apart.

While the Landcruiser has comfortable seating, the LX offers excellent support and ergonomics in typical Lexus form. Its dash is also a complete rethink of the Toyota’s with nothing to relate the two. Both feature 50/50 digital and traditional instrument clusters, wide touchscreen central displays and logical layouts, but the Lexus is better executed and feels more premium.

In place of the Toyota’s push-button climate controls, the Lexus has a third digital screen, while its main information and entertainment system is sharper and more intuitive. Other tech advantages over the Landcruiser include a digital rear-view mirror, a 360 degree camera that can make the Lexus appear transparent in the maneuvering display, and finer quality leather.

As a further indication of the Lexus’s more prestigious approach, the Toyota gets a decent JBL sound system and an amusing CD player, while the LX is equipped with Mark Levinson audio gear which is about the best in the ICE game.

Whether you go Toyota or Lexus, the new TNGA underpinnings cope well with a bit of pace

In the second row however, the experience is virtually identical. Both cars were fitted with the optional entertainment pack which adds a screen for each of the outer seats, the climate panel is unchanged and both get a clever third button that allows rear passengers to access the ice-box between the two front seats.

While interior space is generous including 1210mm of height and 1630mm in width, the overall cabin feel isn’t quite as cavernous as the exterior implies.

That is, however until you get to the boot where both cars offer in excess of 1100 litres of volume. A seven seat is available which shrinks space to just 174 litres when all three rows are in place or 982L when stowed. A clear practical difference becomes clear when wanting to exploit the maximum cabin space and fold the second row.

While the Lexus has remote seat release buttons which automatically roll the front seats out of the way, Toyota owners must manually move the front pew before the rear seat can be folded. However, the Toyota trumps the Lexus with seats that can be tumbled forward after folding liberating extra boot space – 2052L compared with 1960L.

From the initial apparent similarities, the LX 600 and Landcruiser disparity is shaping up but even more so when it comes to ride. It’s unlikely these big bruisers will ever be hustled along with quite the gusto we subjected them to, but the new TNGA underpinnings cope well with a bit of pace.

Yes, there’s the roll and dive you will be expecting but also an unexpected composure. The Toyota negotiates twisty roads using weight transfer, roll and dive a little like a rally car, while the LX tries to stay flat and resistant in a more car-like manner. With less weight to haul up, the Toyota is the more confident under braking and its balance is more neutral in corners while the Lexus tries to understeer with the application of power mid corner.

The LX’s more sensitive steering is a redeeming feature as is its ride when the road straightens. Both cars ride on steel-spring suspension, but the Lexus gets adaptive and hydraulically linked dampers and adjustable ride height which has a dramatic effect on comfort.

There’s still a little crash and judder to remind occupants they are sitting on a ladder-frame chassis, but the Lexus manages to smooth the road while the Landcruiser feels like it’s scaling bigger bumps like a mountain. Finally, the Lexus rolls on road-focused 22-inch wheels with low-profile rubber, while the Toyota’s intent is far more unsealed with 20-inch hoops and all-terrain tyres.

Lexus has gone to great lengths to distance its big SUV offering from the more prosaic Landcruiser

Lexus has gone to lengths to distance its big SUV offering from the more prosaic Landcruiser, leaning on the company’s USPs of quality, refinement and luxury, and resoundingly succeeded. Refreshingly, the LX is not just another case of commercialised badge-engineering and both models have their place, so which is the pick?

If you intend to do what this pair of behemoths pertain to with their vast cabins plonked on stilted stances then the Landcruiser is the obvious choice. Its diesel would make a snack of all towing duties, while its chunkier tyres, guarded steering and more robust chassis tune are obviously tailored for the path less travelled.

But that’s not what this particular journey was about. While they might make a weekly visit to a riding stable or occasionally drop a box of something at a farm, most upper-large SUVs spend a majority of their kilometers in suburbia and that’s exactly where the Lexus makes the most sense.

With all the off-road mechanicals of the Landcruiser, it’s unlikely to ever need a tractor to continue on its way, but on sealed surfaces its smoother ride, quieter engine and superior levels of quality and comfort really stand out. The Toyota Landcruiser is still, without doubt, the Australian born of Japanese parents, but it looks like we might have a new Keith Urban.

Land of the free, home of the brave…

Welcome to the Jeep seats

For another option that casts a similar shadow over the road as the Landcruiser and LX, Jeep’s freshly launched Grand Cherokee is worth a look.

The standard article will arrive later this year but, for now, the L offers a stretched wheelbase with a corresponding increase in interior space for people and things, and the range-topping Summit is heavily laden with kit and features.

It too has a V6 but with a lack of forced induction performance is down on the Japanese pair. However, the Jeep is big SUV that has decent off-road ability, surprisingly good on-road manners and a price that’ll save you about $50,000.

Lexus LX 600

The Lexus does a great job of infusing the LX cabin with the luxurious feel associated with its smaller models but is let down by a disappointigly small ‘moonroof’ that only graces the front occupants with a view of the heavens.

Like the Landcruiser, its central screen measures 12.3-inches corner to corner but is filled with nicer graphics and feels larger in practice. Fingerprint recognition on the start button is a cool security touch and the interior materials quality and finish is impressive.

Toyota Landcruiser

Contrasting the LX’s wine red leather interior, the Toyota has been optioned with a lighter palette and beige leather and carpets which were already starting to look grubby.

Light upholstery would be a brave move if the Landcruiser was to spend much time in mud or ferrying children armed with crayons, axle grease or burritos. Like the Lexus, it has a large full-colour head-up display and a dashboard layout that’s vastly improved over the LC 200.


SCORING

Lexus LX600: 7.8/10

  • Safety, value & features: 7
  • Comfort & space: 7.5
  • Engine & gearbox: 8
  • Ride & handling: 8.5
  • Technology: 8

What we like

  • Road-friendly ride
  • Torquey engine
  • Extensive luxury features

Not so much…

  • Stiff price premium over LC
  • V6 rev reluctance
  • Poxy sunroof

Toyota LandCruiser 300: 7.5/10

  • Safety, value & features: 7.5
  • Comfort & space: 7
  • Engine & gearbox: 8.5
  • Ride & handling: 7
  • Technology: 7.5

What we like

  • Diesel grunt
  • Surprising fuel economy
  • Solid build quality

Not so much…

  • Fixed ride height
  • Clunky infotainment
  • No remote second row

2022 Lexus LX600 v Toyota LC300 specification comparison

Lexus LX 600 Sports Luxury Toyota LandCruiser Sahara ZX
$169,300 $152,300
Drivetrain
Engine 6cyl, dohc,24v twin turbo petrol 6cyl, dohc,24v twin turbo diesel
Layout front engine longitudinal front engine longitudinal
Capacity 3445cc  3346cc 
 Power 305kW @ 5200 rpm 227kW @ 4000 rpm
Torque 650Nm @ 2000-3600 rpm 700Nm @ 1600 – 2600 rpm
Gearbox 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
Chassis
Body steel, 5 doors, 5 seats steel, 5 doors, 5 seats
L/W/H/W–B 5100/1990/1895/2850mm 5015/1980/1950/2850mm
Track (F/R) 1675/1675mm 1667mm/1668mm
Weight 2640kg  2610kg
Boot 1109L 1131L
Fuel/tank 95RON/110L 48CN/110L
Economy 12.1L/100km (claimed) 8.9L/100km (claimed)
Suspension Front: double wishbone anti-roll bar Front: double wishbone anti-roll bar 
Rear: Multi-link anti-roll bar  Rear: Multi-link anti-roll bar 
Steering electric power assisted rack & pinion electric power assisted rack & pinion
Brakes 354mm ventilated  discs four-piston calipers 354mm ventilated  discs four-piston calipers
Rear brakes 335mm ventilated discs single piston sliding calipers 335mm ventilated discs single piston sliding calipers
Tyres Dunlop Grandtrek PT5A Bridgestone Dueler A/T
Tyre size  295/50 R22 265/55 R20
Safety
ANCAP rating TBC 5 stars
Performance
0.-100km/h 7.0s (claimed) 8.0s (claimed)
Warranty 5yr/unlimited km 5 years/unlimited km
Service interval 6 months/10,000km 6 months/10,000km

COMMENTS

Keyword: 2022 Lexus LX600 vs Toyota LandCruiser LC300 comparison review

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