I originally planned on listing an equal amount of things that I like and dislike about my 1999 Lexus LX 470, but I found that impossible. There’s a lot to like about this aging luxury-badged Land Cruiser that I purchased for only $2,100 — and after brainstorming for quite a while, I really couldn’t find any fault with it … except one major thing.
It’s safe to say the “Predator” front-end treatment of new Lexus offerings is disliked by many, including yours truly. While I wouldn’t call my old LX 470 stunning, at least it doesn’t look like it wants to eat a pedestrian. Personally, I really like the Lexus styling upgrades from this era, as the extra cladding and fancy nose treatment really class up an otherwise plain-looking body. They even added a little Supra-style rear spoiler above the tailgate — despite the fact that downforce is the least of this large SUV’s aerodynamic worries. Having an actual truck-style tailgate is another big plus to the Land Cruiser — and something I much prefer to the giant clamshell-style rear hatches on most of today’s SUVs.
I feel nostalgic when I’m inside this rig, as my mother drove one of these during my formative years. The fantastic Nakamichi stereo — Lexus’s version of Bose or Harman Kardon — got a regular workout during that time, blasting the greatest hits of Styx or Mariah Carey. Nearly 20 years later, Mr. Nakamichi’s stereo still sounds great, and I like the simple functionality of it, along with all the other features of the LX 470. Thankfully, this Lexus pre-dates the iDrive revolution, where basic functions are hidden away in menus and sub-menus on a confusing computer system. All of the Land Cruiser’s numerous features are controlled by their own independent buttons or levers, right down to the manual switch for the power antenna. Even without fancy computer interfaces, the interior doesn’t feel outdated, mostly because of the cool floating LCD instrument cluster. The comfort level of the plush seats is another big bonus, too.
Another thing I like about the LX 470 is its smoothness. Modern engines now have noisy valve-trains and ticky direct-injection systems to maximize power and efficiency — but at idle, they sound like garbage. The 4.7-liter V8 inside this Lexus is nearly silent at idle — and it’s ridiculously smooth when running through the gears. The ride quality is also impressive, as the smoothness is comparable to a Mercedes S-Class on the highway. I’m sure the hydraulic suspension plays a big role in this smoothness — but unfortunately, I’m planning to rip this system out so I can fit big muddin’ tires underneath this Lexus.
Before I dig into the mods I’m making to my LX 470, I must cover the one thing I don’t like, which is a common gripe for Lexus in general: a lack of soul. Lexus started their company by re-badging Toyota models and reverse engineering Mercedes to create vehicles that are of excellent quality — but many seem to lack the “it” factor. This intangible characteristic is something you find oozing out of anything made by Land Rover — along with every other fluid possible. While my Lexus is still bone-dry underneath after 350,000 miles, it certainly feels boring in comparison to its Range Rover competitor.
Thankfully, the mods I have planned should make my LX 470 much more interesting. Along with the suspension lift kit and oversize off-road tires, I also purchased a custom bull-bar front bumper, rock sliders, winch and a snorkel. I doubt I’ll ever be in a situation where a snorkel is necessary, but I’ve never had a vehicle with one before, and I couldn’t skip the opportunity. My mechanic, The Car Wizard, and I will be diving into this project shortly — and shortly after, I’ll probably find myself rolling down a cliff. Wish us luck! Find a Lexus LX 470 for sale
Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.