Tundra vs LX570: Which Toyota 4WD are you taking on the trail?
Toyota has long been a major force in the off-road world. From the early military-inspired Land Cruisers to the formidable TRD Pro models of today, a trail-ready model can be found at nearly every price point. Comparing specs of all the different models, however, can be confusing. Take the full-size Toyota Tundra pickup truck and Lexus's LX570 SUV. Both come equipped with Toyota's 5.7 liter V8. Both are available with a variant of 4WD. If one considers a used LX, both can be had at roughly the same price range. Minus the obvious body differences, these two seem pretty similar on the surface. So, what are the differences that you care about in these automotive cousins?
2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 4WD
The truck we drove for this comparison was a 2020 Tundra SR5 4WD model.
Equipped with the i-Force 5.7L V8, the truck makes 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. The power is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission. When off-road, it can utilize part-time 4WD with an electronically controlled transfer case.
As with many modern pick-up trucks, price can vary wildly with options and packages, but a similarly equipped truck can be had for around $40,000.
2011 Lexus LX570
For comparison, we brought along a 2011 Lexus LX570.
For the most part, the LX is a mechanical twin to Toyota's legendary 200 series Land Cruiser model. It too shares the 5.7L V8, though it makes 383 hp and 403 ft-lb of torque in this application. A six-speed transmission is used as well, though the power is sent through a full-time four-wheel drive system with a Torsen limited-slip center differential instead.
Differentiating itself from the Land Cruiser, the LX employs a four-wheel electro-hydraulic suspension that allows for easy lowering and raising of the big SUV. Budgeting the price of this Tundra, one could afford roughly a five-year-old LX570 with 50k-75k miles.
Off-Road Capability Comparison
For off-roading, suspension is a key component to the performance and durability of a vehicle. The Tundra takes the simple route, with a coil spring double wishbone suspension up front and live axle multi-leaf system in the rear. While the LX570 also uses the double-wishbone up front, a four-link is used in combination with the solid rear axle. This difference is apparent in tow ratings, with the Tundra besting the LX570 with 10,000lbs capability vs 8500lbs in the Lexus.
One area where the Tundra will begin to show some weakness is in it's off-road capabilities. While the TRD Pro models offer a bit more tricks, the SR5 largely makes do with Toyota's Auto LSD and A-TRAC active traction control.
The LX570, however, has a whole bag of off-road tricks. A lockable center differential and two-speed transfer case are present, while an alphabet soup of tech enhancements make off-roading nearly mindless. Crawl Control is designed to automatically maintain an optimal slow and steady pace over challenging terrain. A Turn Assist feature can also tighten your turning circle by adding brake force to the inside rear wheel.
A multi-terrain anti-lock braking system gives shorter stopping distances on surfaces such as sand or gravel. Hill-Start Assist (HAC) prevents rolling backwards on hills or slippery surfaces. Variable Gear-Ratio Steering (VGRS) automatically adjusts the front-wheel steering angle and response.
At low speeds, VGRS reduces the number of turns, lock to lock, for easier maneuvering. At high speeds, the steering gear ratio is optimized for increased high-speed responsiveness and control.
The Right Tires for Different Driving Styles
Regardless of whether a vehicle utilizes tech for it's off-road chops or not, it can't do anything without the right tires. Both of these vehicles run all-terrain Nittos, though each vehicle has been paired with a tire that matches the owner's intentions.
The Tundra was fitted a set of 275/55/20 Nitto Ridge Grapplers by the dealer as part of the XP Gunner package. Offering the best of both worlds in mud-terrain and all-terrain capability, the Ridge Grappler gives the Tundra an aggressive look that doesn't sacrifice the daily usability one would expect from a new vehicle.
For the Lexus, the priority for tire selection was comfort. Nitto's Terra Grappler G2 provides enough capability for the SUV's tech to do its job on the trails, but not so much that it interferes with the supple ride qualities of the vehicle.
Daily Driving Assessment
For daily-driving duties, these two vehicles offer two very different experiences. The 2020 Tundra is equipped with all of the latest ICE and safety technology one would expect from a new model.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes hooking up your phone easy, and Toyota's TSS-P safety suite offers smart assistance for a variety of driving situations.
The LX570 is a rolling bank vault. Everything just feels more solid than the Tundra, from the door handles, to the switch-gear, to the extremely comfortable, supple leather seats. The ICE tech, however, was dated when it was sold new in 2011.
Bluetooth works, but plan to bring a phone-mount if you want to utilize anything more than music and phone calls. The in-car navigation works exactly as good as one would expect a ten year old system to function.
In reality, these vehicles are much more different than their specs would suggest. Realistically, there's probably not a ton of buyers trying to choose between the two. The LX, even new, is a dated, old-world luxury barge with enough Land Cruiser DNA to earn a place in the 4WD conversation. Price, however, will be a barrier for some. Unless one just appreciates craftmanship that much, the premium may not be worth it.
The Tundra, frankly, is a big, dumb, new truck. It'll tow well. It'll haul well. It'll do exactly what an owner asks of it with zero complaints. While a comparison to other brands may shine a light on some of its weaknesses in current tech, in comparison to this nearly 10 year old Lexus, it's thoroughly modern.
That being said, both are incredibly capable, bullet-proof machines. Interestingly, both models are long-in-the-tooth. The 200 series Land Cruiser and LX were released in 2008, and current models are largely just face-lifts of that design. The current Tundra design dates back to 2007. Both are due for redesign for 2021, so another comparison will be valuable when those new models are available to the public.
Even with Toyota's TRD Models being sold for over $60,000, it's still important to remember that the LX570 new starts at around $90,000. So when the Tundra is refreshed, comparative pricing will still put the 2021 model up against the 200 series. Time will tell if the ancient Lexus SUV will still present a case for Toyota off-road enthusiasts.
Still trying to decide which Toyota is right for you? Check out our article diving into all of the new TRD Pro models.