High-mileage LC and LX vets please weigh in

I've been a member of EP for quite some time over in the Montero forum. I've been looking for a new vehicle for my wife and after extensive research settled on an LX470 that will soon be converted into a family trip hauler. I'm down to two options: a black 2004 with 160K miles for $13500 that needs both new timing belt and water pump, or a gray 2002 with 235K miles for $7500 with timing belt and water pump freshly done. Maintenance records on both are very good and both are very clean garage queens that have never been modified. In fact, the older truck's paint and interior are in shockingly good shape. Obviously the newer truck is the safer bet but will cost twice as much (actually considerably more than that once I do baseline maintenance). I'm leaning toward the older rig. Am I on crack?

That is -- and I know this question has been asked a lot in here -- is 200K+ miles on a 100 Series truck (that has been maintained well) not a deal breaker? Can a high-mileage LX470 actually be a dependable rig I can trust on long road trips and/or deep in the backcountry with family along for the ride? I keep reading about 300+ mile specimens that are running strong and that still feel tight. I mean...really? How much of that is hyperbole orchestrated by secret Japanese operatives engaging in collusion with 'Yota fanboys as opposed to fact? :D How many of those 300+K mile trucks are really just limping along on a few cylinders as opposed to playing the part of a robust, mountain-scaling overlanders?

If I buy the older rig I will go well beyond the PO's timing belt and water pump switch by replacing all hoses, tensioners, accessory belt, heater Ts, fluids (including diffs), etc. while also flushing the AHC system and installing a new radiator. I'll buy new tires and chant incantations and have a local priest drizzle motor oil on the hood and offer his blessing. But CAN I REALLY TRUST A 235K MILE TRUCK TO BE MY MAIN OVERLANDING VEHICLE? Or should I pony up and buy the newer, lower-mileage truck and sink even more dough into maintenance after purchase?

Do tell. And thanks.
 

hayde89

Member
Here is the advice I was given buy the newest well maintained and rust free vehicle you can afford. With the older truck you are giving up on big thing that was super important to me and that is the 5spd transmission the LX also has better headlights and will be a bit nicer. I would suggest test driving both. Also it depends what your long term plan is. I bought the LX with the intention of keeping AHC because it is just that good but had a failure and prematurely replaced it with OME. If you are planning to do suspension immediately I would go with the LC. But they are the same vehicle so you can't go wrong with either. PS Yota Fan boys buy Lexus too so the hyperbole doesn't really work here.
 

Greenbean

B.S. Goodwrench
I would steer towards the newer one, mostly because I’m pretty sure it should have a five speed transmission mated up to the engine where as you know the four-speed transmission is the same tranny that was in an 80 series,

Honestly you’re not going to go wrong with either one, just do your research especially when it comes to the specific differences per year, they started adding more sound deadening items at door seems and what not at a particular year that I do not know.

This may sound kind of stupid, but if either of those two did not have the rear spoiler as an accessory mounted to the upper hatch I would buy the one that didn’t have it, but I would lean towards the new were one to get the five speed transmission though.

Of course with either one you could get an auto height control electrical item from Slee Off-Road that lets you engage the high setting whenever you want, but eventually that system may fail and you could choose to remove it if you want it’s up to you.

I am the second owner of a corporate owned 2000 model LC and I just rolled over 450K and because of the maintenance records and the track record of this particular vehicle I would not hesitate to drive it across the country tomorrow if I had to.

FWIW, The wife and I are in a hunt to replace her old Honda CRV with an LX470 because we’ve been so impressed with what we’ve learned over three years of ownership on our land cruiser, I am not new to Toyota at all and I’ve had multiple Toyota trucks but this land cruiser was our first land cruiser.
 
Thanks very much, fellas.

Hayde, I generally agree with the " newest well maintained and rust free vehicle you can afford" mantra. And boy is the 2004 pretty -- owned by a military vet since new and you can eat off the thing. But it's at a faraway dealership that's playing the usual games, so there's that. Besides, given input from other LX owners I'm coming around to the notion that higher mileage on these things is not the risk it is with other vehicles. Two questions for you, though: 1) In your experience is the 5-speed that much better than the 4-speed? Seems like owners of the pre-2003 LXs don't complain about gearing much -- if at all. And 2) why do you say you had a failure and "prematurely" replaced the AHC? Do you miss it? Did ride quality suffer after the addition of the more conventional suspension?

Greenbean, the spoiler comment was funny. Newer one has it, older does not. I'll look into Slee height adjustment deal. And btw, the reference to the 450K-plus LC you own only adds fuel to the "high miles don't matter as much here" notion.

On a related note, one thing that almost put me off buying an LX entirely is the utter lack (to my knowledge after a lot of research) of stereo/nav replacement of the horridly outdated LX nav/stereo system that blends A/C controls with the stereo. Uh, stoopid, Toyota. In fact, it's still making me a nervous buyer. A quality nav system and especially good music are keys to successful and enjoyable road trips so it's damn near a deal-breaker for me. However, I just read a couple of threads in other forums that give me hope that a solution is around the bend -- specifically the appearance of this. Evidently it requires a Harvard-level degree in electronics to install at this point but vendors are moving closer to a plug-and-play solution.

By the way, I'm having a mechanic go through the older truck soup to nuts tomorrow. One thing he'll be checking for is frame rust -- though photos I was sent by the owner are promising (example below).

Thanks for the input and I'd welcome any more. Making my final decision this week.

510674
 
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Greenbean

B.S. Goodwrench
That’s funny you mention the stereo and the navigation,

I completely forgot to mention that because it can be for some the only real drawback or bane of existence of their LX.

However it’s easily remedied with the first GEN model because it’s just a standard double din and a lot of people throw in an android unit or an apple play unit, if you want to reverse camera you’ll have to get creative and why are your own in as well as a Bluetooth microphone somewhere if you want to use voice commands.

I do know that on IH8MUD.com there is a really long thread and some people have had a great success retrofitting to a non integrated Nav/HVAC dash.

LOTS OF WORK!!!

I believe you may have just narrowed down your decision!

Don’t forget about the even super rare 98 & 99 models that did not have ATRAC but had the rear locker as an option!
 

nasko

Adventurer
Given those two choices I would choose the older one. Heck, you can buy two for the price of the newer one :)
I test drove two LX 470, a 2004 and a 2002 and honestly did not notice much difference in the performance of the transmission. I ended up getting the 2002 and have been quite happy with it. From what I have read maintenance and over all condition is much more important with these trucks than mileage.
 
Thanks, all. Nasko, does your 2002 have nav? If so, did you address the dated stereo/nav screen and if so, how?

Appreciate all of the advice. I'll be closer to a decision today after I get a report from the mechanic. It's located in another state so if I make the buy I'll be flying up with my boy to retrieve it -- a purposeful dad-son road trip before he heads off to college (too damn) soon. Assuming recent timing belt and water pump are confirmed I'll be asking the shop to replace upper and heater hose Ts and upper and lower radiator hoses. Any other maintenance items I should have them inspect or tackle before our long drive home?
 

nasko

Adventurer
No, It doesn't have the navigation unit. It has the old school cd player. At first I thought of replacing it with some modern Android unit, but the more I drive it, the less I actually think about it. It is a nice solid truck and after replacing the AHC and the heater hose T's I have been really happy with it. It would be nice if the MPG was a little higher but it is what it is...
 

hayde89

Member
1) In your experience is the 5-speed that much better than the 4-speed? Seems like owners of the pre-2003 LXs don't complain about gearing much -- if at all.

I personally have driven both. The only reason the 4spd guys do not complain is because the do not know better. A thread on Mud described it best. the 4spd is fine until you've driven a 5spd. If you plan to mod at all I would get the 5spd.

2) why do you say you had a failure and "prematurely" replaced the AHC? Do you miss it? Did ride quality suffer after the addition of the more conventional suspension?

I had a rear sensor that went bad on my LX. I got caught up in all the hype of replacing the AHC and replaced it. Do I regret it of course. There is something about being able to adjust your lift height with a touch of a button that is spectacular. Being in normal for road trips nets a little better MPG but then when you hit the trails you can lift with little effort. Not to mention it is smoother than any other suspension I have experienced in the 100 series. So yes the ride quality did suffer. Yes, I chose a set it an forget it setup OME to be specific. But any fancier is just chasing the pipe dream of the AHC ride in my opinion.

As per NAV HVAC. Yes, it is annoying but I would not let it deter you. It is easy enough to add blue tooth. Plus there are options coming available.

But it depends on your needs. If you are just going to tear out the AHC I would wait and find a 5spd Land Cruiser. If you are going to keep the AHC for a long time then I say go LX.
 

hayde89

Member
I can now give you a straight forward answer. I now own both. My statement still stands the 5spd is superior. The 4spd gets the job done but if you are going to build at all you will thank me later for getting the 5spd. My cruisers are as follows 2004 LX470 and a 1999 Land Cruiser with rear locker. Side not towing a 100 series with a 100 series is not fun.

 
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redthies

Renaissance Redneck
I personally have driven both. The only reason the 4spd guys do not complain is because the do not know better. A thread on Mud described it best. the 4spd is fine until you've driven a 5spd. If you plan to mod at all I would get the 5spd.

This is a load of hooey. I also have owned both (at the same time) with a’99 LC and a ‘06 LX. I sold the ‘06. The extra gear is there for sure, but to say the only reason we with older trucks don’t complain is because we don’t know any better is just dumb. There are many reasons to pick one over the other. I kept the ‘99 as it rode and handled FAR better than the ‘06, has the factory dif locker, no AHC to eventually deal with, lower cost of entry giving more budget to mods etc etc etc.

The 5 spd is slightly better on the freeway, but that’s about it. I cruise at 70 mph and 2200 rpm with the 4 spd, and am perfectly happy with that.
 

hayde89

Member
I have driven plenty and own both right now. If you are upping the tire size then yes the extra gear comes in to play. Also I am calling horse crap on your 99 handling better than your 06 if it had AHC then it'll always out handle a non AHC vehicle. The only reason you hate on AHC is because you do not understand it. But don't take my word for it take the seat time of everyone on mud. Because every review is to the contrary. I have driven fully built of both iteration and my 99 is fully built a buddy has an 05 fully built and I can tell you which handles the mods better. It's the 05.
This is a load of hooey. I also have owned both (at the same time) with a’99 LC and a ‘06 LX. I sold the ‘06. The extra gear is there for sure, but to say the only reason we with older trucks don’t complain is because we don’t know any better is just dumb. There are many reasons to pick one over the other. I kept the ‘99 as it rode and handled FAR better than the ‘06, has the factory dif locker, no AHC to eventually deal with, lower cost of entry giving more budget to mods etc etc etc.

The 5 spd is slightly better on the freeway, but that’s about it. I cruise at 70 mph and 2200 rpm with the 4 spd, and am perfectly happy with that.
 

redthies

Renaissance Redneck
I have driven plenty and own both right now. If you are upping the tire size then yes the extra gear comes in to play. Also I am calling horse crap on your 99 handling better than your 06 if it had AHC then it'll always out handle a non AHC vehicle. The only reason you hate on AHC is because you do not understand it. But don't take my word for it take the seat time of everyone on mud. Because every review is to the contrary. I have driven fully built of both iteration and my 99 is fully built a buddy has an 05 fully built and I can tell you which handles the mods better. It's the 05.
Oh, I’m sorry you’re right. I’m clearly a no nothing imbecile. I’ve only owned about 15 Land Cruisers, all of which have been modded, and used hard. A few of them have driven from Canada to Central America and back. Many were diesels. My ‘99 with OME and 33s kicked the CRAP out of my ‘06. Oh, and yes, I do understand AHC. I just prefer coils to hydraulics on everything but my ‘65 Impala.

Your opinion is worth exactly the same as mine. Deal with it.
 
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