The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the more famous off-road vehicles in the world. Its ability to go on rough trails is legendary, but it’s a pleasant street machine as well. Sadly, the 2021 model year is the last in North America. The all new 2022 version will be sold overseas only. This has caused a rush for last-minute buyers, but we were lucky to find one for a test drive.

Under the hood is a proven 5.7-liter V8 rated at 381 horsepower, hooked to an eight-speed gearbox. For off-pavement driving, there is a full-time four-wheel drive with low range, locking differential, crawl control and a beefed frame that explains the weight of 3 tons. That also explains the dismal fuel economy of 13/17 mpg.

We drove this rig for a week in all conditions and are impressed. On the street it’s smooth and quiet. In the dirt, it seems unstoppable. But that fuel tank runs empty in a hurry.

The starting price is $85K. Ours has a $91K tab. But there is one problem. With customers rushing to buy these before they are all gone, there is a national shortage. Looking on the web, most Toyota dealers or brokers are charging way more than sticker price, as much as $40K over! And they are getting it. If you can find one for retail, I say snap it up in a hurry.

Or there is another solution, and it’s the Lexus LX 570. Under the fancy bodywork, it shares the same platform and mechanicals with the Land Cruiser. The main difference is the retail price is higher, with ours reaching $107K. This is because of all the luxury trim and goodies in the cabin, which is pretty swank. But consumers are not rushing to buy these at the moment, and they are selling at list. So comparing this to a Toyota Land Cruiser at current gouging $130K prices, the LX is looking like a bargain.

The LX 570 has all the off-road controls of the Toyota. In addition, there is an adjustable suspension that can be raised or powered. So actually it has better capability in the dirt. Yes, we did take it off the pavement, and on very rough trails it performed just as well as the Land Cruiser. Yet on the street, it is a true luxury ride that can be parked next to the expensive European brands and fit right in.

The LX 570 shares the same 5.7 V8 engine but is rated at 383 horsepower instead of 381. This is due to the factory suggesting the use of premium gas. Doing so didn’t increase fuel economy, which is less at 12/16 mpg! As this is a loaner vehicle, we are obligated to use the fuel requirement listed in the owner’s book. On the other hand, owners tell me they see little difference in performance using regular grade. It’s your choice.

Lexus says it will have a new 2022 LX model in the showrooms soon, but there is little information on it. In the meantime, this 2021 version looks very nice.

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Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.

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