Terrain King

There is nothing on Earth quite like a bespoke three piece suit. Salvatore Ambrosi, a Neapolitan tailor charges an eye-watering $2,000 for a pair of trousers.

The jacket and the waistcoat are a whole other topic, and quite honestly, you’d have to go to a different tailor for that. Ambrosi only cares about perfecting your trousers. Of course, there are other ways around a suit. You could hit Zara or Marks & Spencer and pull something off the rack. If you’ve got the body of a mannequin, you’re bound to find one that fits like a glove. If you don’t, get ready to look like an HRM trainee. Either way, getting a suit off the rack guarantees that you will not be receiving love letters from your HR manager. After all, she doesn’t care about the fit and finish of your suit and neither does she bother herself with the stitching. It gets the job done. 

Take for instance the Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s so good at getting the job done that it’s been the choice of wheels for the United Nations Peace Corps and pretty much anyone else who deals with life and death situations on a weekly basis. In the Philippines, the Land Cruiser is the choice of every single congressman, mayor, and senator. Even our President has one. It is so infamous in fact, that everyone I’ve spoken to will cut a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, and a Porsche on the road - but a Land Cruiser? Never. It’s a symbol of old money and power, and we all know that families that have those two elements have a knack for making their enemies disappear. We wouldn’t want that now, do we?

"Once the twisty asphalt turns into dirt, mud, or water, the Lexus just chows it down like a stoned teenager in Panda Express."

Recently, I saw the daughter of a billionaire hop in a Land Cruiser while her friends boarded a Maybach and the other, a Porsche 911. Interestingly, the net worth of those two who hopped into their European luxury automobiles, weren’t even a fourth of the girl in the Toyota. Combined. And so I took a look at the Land Cruiser recently and was left unimpressed by it. Yes, I know it can circumnavigate the world three times over and it has to capability to go over any kind of terrain, including a mountain of mac and cheese, and it will most likely outlive me - but the fit and finish is horrible for something that costs as much as a quaint apartment.

Every time I’d select reverse on the gear lever, an Aston Martin Vantage illustration would pop up on the screen to display the rear parking sensors. I’m not even half kidding. The amount of plastic used in the interior should be enough to draft a new city ordinance and the overall interior design lacks coherence. It is as appallingly tailored as the suits of our lawmakers. It is no surprise that they feel right at home with it. Thankfully, there’s an alternative for some that want the same bulletproof ride dressed in a bespoke tux. It’s called the Lexus LX 570. 

"If you ever want to feel what it would be like to drive a three-storey house, try taking this to some twisty roads."

I already know what you’re thinking. There’s a leap in price when you swap the Toyota badge for the Lexus, a full 2,788,000 Philippine Pesos to be exact. Let’s see, you could buy a Lexus IS 350 with that and still walk away with some change, but I think you’d be missing the point. You can’t really correct a poorly done cheap suit by spending on a pair of Italian leather shoes. It just doesn’t work that way. So let’s go ahead and justify this. What does this behemoth of an SUV bring to the table?

What does this behemoth of an SUV bring to the table? First, there’s the presence. I don’t care what your opinion is on the way it looks, this has more presence than a BMW X5 or an Audi Q7. Surely, I think that this deserves to wear its proper 21-inch shoes, which strangely hasn’t been specced for the Philippines - making it look like its wearing flip flops with a tux. Nonetheless, it still has loads of swagger, especially in the evening when its LED lights pierce through the night like a hawk stalking its prey. It looks like an alien.

Conquer every summit.

Then there’s the interior, a fabulous mix of wood, leather, and aluminium. The gigantic high resolution screen that sits on top of an analogue clock is the very definition of taste, and the orange tone leather is a nod to the midcentury design philosophy of the jet set era. It is all very special and very expensive inside. It isn’t all superficial though, because the LX is equipped with ultra comfortable seats that both heat and cool those in front. Air-conditioned seats should be standard on all luxury cars that are heading to the archipelago. Oh, and you can fit 8 adults here quite comfortably.

Speaking of cool, there’s a refrigerator located underneath the center armrest. After a long drive while pulling your jet-skiis down to the beach, you’d be more than happy to pull out a bottle of cold water. And when I say cold, I mean it. See, it’s the little things that matter. I’m also happy to report that the infotainment system is lovely. The cursor used to navigate the options may take some time getting used to, but it’s a breeze once you’ve immersed yourself in it. The Mark Levinson audio system is great too, but nowhere near as good as the system on the LC500. That one was off the dial. 

Remain bespoke.

Driving this SUV on the road is nothing to write home about. Somehow, it doesn’t pretend that it doesn’t weigh as much as the Titanic. It has a soft suspension that makes for a really smooth ride, but with the quirks and clumsiness of a body-on frame. If you ever want to feel what it would be like to drive a three-storey house, try taking this to some twisty roads. It absolutely begs for mercy like an overweight kid tasked to run a marathon with corn dogs on his hand. Although once the twisty asphalt turns into dirt, mud, or water, the Lexus just chows it down like a stoned teenager in Panda Express. It has all the 4x4 technology you’ll ever need to get yourself home in one piece regardless of weather and terrain.

My favorite bit is called Crawl Control, wherein the computers take over and maintain a steady pace over impossible terrain, with a turn assist feature that tightens its turning radius by adding brake force to the inner rear wheel. Sorcery! I thought it was rather funny how people would ask me what it’s like to drive something so gargantuan around tight spaces and traffic. It is made so easy because it’s equipped with about 2,000,000 cameras which always seem to activate at the right time. This meant that I could place the car precisely within an inch of another if I wanted to kick bullies that tried squeezing me out of my lane. 

"When I say off-roading, I’m talking rock crawling, lip smashing, and river crossing scenarios."

Overall, I can definitely say that this is easily the plushest and most luxurious real off-roading SUV in the market that is only bested by the Range Rover. When I say off-roading, I’m talking rock crawling, lip smashing, and river crossing scenarios. This can do it all, while you sit cocooned in a multi-zone climate controlled cabin with air-conditioned seats and a bombastic Mark Levinson audio system.

The only downside is the poor fuel economy, but then again, if you’ve mustered up a premium of a little above 7 million bucks, the fuel costs should be pocket change to you. I’ll say it again, if you’ve got a deep war chest and you’re looking to get a Toyota Land Cruiser, I suggest you cough up the cash and go for a fully bespoke Lexus. It may not be twice the car, but it is definitely thrice the opulent experience.

A powerful impression.


2017 Lexus LX 570

Engine: 5,663 cc, DOHC 32V V8, Naturally Aspirated
Fuel: Gasoline
Power: 383 bhp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 546 Nm @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic with Paddle Shifters, AWD
0-100 km/h: 7.5 seconds
Top Speed: 220 km/h
Fuel Economy: 4.7 km/L Overall
Price: PHP7,718,000
+: Opulent, luxurious, comfortable, Mark Levinson audio, can go anywhere
-: Fuel economy, needs bigger wheels, expensive
Verdict: Not twice a Land Cruiser, but triple the experience
Rating: 9/10

Ex-Automotive Executive

Instagram: @enzoteodoro