I bought a 2002 Lexus LX470 last week sight unseen, and ever since, Toyota Land Cruiser fans have been messaging me things like “Dude, that thing is unkillable. Keep it. Love it. If you want to bathe with it, just know that that’s not weird in our circles.” Surely this SUV can’t be perfectly fault-proof, right? Well, after driving in my fancy Land Cruiser for a few days, I know the answer is “no.”
The fact that these machines are worth somewhere in the five-figure range even after having traveled so many miles surprised me initially, and made me wonder if the legendary Toyota off-roader could possibly be as tough as everyone says. My cheap Jeeps have unstoppable 4.0-liter engines and great Aisin transmissions. It’s usually all of the ancillary stuff that fails. Surely that would be the case with the Land Cruiser too, right?
The answer is yes. Even the Land Cruiser falls apart around its stout powertrain and drivetrain. Though I think the 100-Series does so in a classier way than my Jeeps do. Less trim falls apart, the bodies don’t rust after two winters, and on and on. I’ll compare this 100-Series to my Jeeps in a later article, but for now, let’s just go through my Lexus’ issues.
When applying throttle after a coast, or starting out in gear, the LX470 makes a loud “CLUNK!” from down below the deck. This, Toyota Land Cruiser experts have told me, is a sloppy slip joint. Apparently greasing it helps with the clunk. I’ll try that.
The AC doesn’t work. I don’t have much more to say about this, though I do want to point out the incredible climate control, which is built into the old-school infotainment display.
I don’t know what’s going on with the Land Cruiser’s sunroof, but there’s a sticker that says “Do not touch,” which makes pressing the switch even more tempting. Because it’s one thing for a feature to just not work, and another thing if trying to use it causes all sorts of havoc. Part of me wants to know what that havoc is.
What the hell is going on with this key? The fob doesn’t work and, in fact, it’s barely held together by a piece of packing tape. I keep trying to flash my LEXUS keys at people to show off my clearly-superior economic status, but I just look like a fool every time.
For its mileage, the Lexus’ interior has held up fairly well. The dash and headliner look great, the carpeting is clean, and all the trim looks nice. The seats, however, look rough. And also, the armrest on the driver’s side isn’t pretty.
The CD player is stuck closed, which means I have to listen to The Beatles, Jim Croce, and the rest the oldie CDs stuck in there.
The steering rack is leaking, and though it’s only a small seep (I haven’t topped the reservoir off since taking ownership last Wednesday), the rack does make some extremely odd noises. It’s gotta go. Unfortunately, I’m told that I should buy my part from the Toyota dealer, and should expect to drop a grand. Gulp.
That’s like two rusty Jeep Cherokees right there, all for a dang steering rack.
That steering rack pushes tie rod ends to turn the steering knuckles. So when I swap that rack out, I’ll have to replace those tie rods, which is good, because the boots are cracked, meaning after a few months driving the vehicle in rain, those joints will be sloppy, and my steering will be all over the place.
The Land Cruiser has clearly spent quite a bit of time in the city, as both front and rear bumpers are scuffed up. They’ve been pushed in enough to where I think even painting them won’t quite bring them back to new. Finding new bumper covers at junkyards seems unlikely, but I’ll keep an eye out.
The trim below the grille is something I have to replace soon. The gap is driving me mad:
There are also a few scuffs on the sheetmetal, though nothing serious:
This problem is baffling. Anytime I pull off the highway, I have to bang my turn signals back into the Lexus’ fascia. For some reason, the lights pop out at high speeds. I’m assuming some clips are either worn out or broken.
The tilt-function on the steering wheel doesn’t work. This is fine, since the power seats allow me to make some space between my thighs and the wheel, but it’s just an example of where sometimes it’s best to stick with simplicity. I get that it’s nice to have memory settings that adjust the seat and steering wheel anytime someone enters the vehicle, but honestly, it’s not hard to move a seat and manually tilt a steering wheel. I’d rather the LX not have this failure-prone feature.
Overall, I’m happy with the LX. The V8 engine is incredible. It’s so quiet and smooth, and the transmission — though a four-speed slushbox (hooked to the biggest transmission cooler I’ve ever seen) — does its job admirably. Which is awesome, because this beast has 260,000 miles on it. (Note: Previous articles state that the Lexus has 275,000 miles. Turns out, the seller mis-typed 257,000! D’Oh!).
More revelations to come about this Lexus and my 2,000 mile road trip from Chicago to Seattle to fix a clapped-out 1958 Willys FC (Things are getting wild; see image above), but the short of it is that I’m falling in love.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)