by James Allen
Whilst lacking mass appeal, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a tempting option for those eyeing-up an off-road-biased s SUV.
There’s no beating around the bush with this one: the Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t objectively the best luxury SUV in this class. For sure, that doesn’t make the vehicle bad, but it’s worth us pointing out that the likes of the Land Rover Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GLS are more well-rounded vehicles. What we will concede, though, is that the Toyota Land Cruiser runs the aforementioned Range Rover incredibly closely in terms of off-road abilities. Factor in the handy revisions brought in via the 2016 model year facelift, and the Toyota Land Cruiser certainly makes a case for itself as a hardy go-anywhere kind of vehicle for those who don’t want to sacrifice access to creature comforts.
The Toyota Land Cruiser should in theory have an interior that stands out from the crowd.
Given the car has a starting sticker price of just under $85,000, the Toyota Land Cruiser should in theory have an interior that stands out from the crowd. Which it certainly well does, if perhaps not for the reasons we’d have ideally liked. Though the swathes of leather and other high quality trim materials do lend an appropriately upmarket and premium feel to the cabin, the Toyota Land Cruiser doesn’t quite live up to the standards set by the Land Rover Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade or Mercedes-Benz GLS. Don’t get us wrong, we like what’s on offer in the Toyota Land Cruiser: we just would have preferred something a little bit more premium-feeling, considering the Land Cruiser’s one of the more initially expensive cars in this class. Everywhere else, though, the Toyota Land Cruiser fares fairly well. Storage space in the passenger compartments is fairly good, and overall head and leg room for the front and middle rows means adults should have enough space to feel comfortable on longer journeys. If we’re being picky, we’d criticize the fairly restrictive rear seats, though – as several other seven-seater SUVs in this segment suffer from this issue – it’s not something we’ll lambaste for long.
One feature we particularly feel is worth highlighting is the split tailgate.
Cargo room is decent, too. The 16.1 cubic feet of space with all seats in place is about above-average for this class, with the 43 cubic feet and 81.7 cubic feet volumes with the third and second rows folded away respectively each inching their way towards what the more commodious vehicles in this segment can offer. Plus, having a broad trunk opening, a completely flat load bay and no load lip to speak of should mean it’s quite easy to just slide items in and out of the trunk. One feature we particularly feel is worth highlighting is the split tailgate. Whilst it’s not eye-opening on paper, we do feel it has offer some benefits: for instance, if you’re loading items into the trunk with the car facing up hill, you can place your gear into the Toyota Land Cruiser without worrying about the bits and pieces sliding or rolling out.
The Toyota Land Cruiser was never going to be labelled a “fun car to drive” in a traditional sense.
Being a huge and heavy SUV, the Toyota Land Cruiser was never going to be labelled a “fun car to drive” in a traditional sense. Factor in the emphasis the Land Cruiser places on comfort and off-road ability, and it becomes even more apparent that, if it’s asphalt-based thrills you’re after, the Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t the car for you. That comfort orientation, though, does mean the Toyota Land Cruiser is a surprisingly easy car to live with, considering its rather specific cross-terrain brief. Whilst the overall ride quality isn’t totally perfect (over rougher surfaces, the ride can get a bit pattery – which is unusual, considering the Land Cruiser has lots of suspension travel and rides on small-by-luxury-SUV-standards 18inch wheels shod in high profile tires), the Toyota Land Cruiser does ride rather smoothly for most of the time.
That’s not to say the Land Cruiser is an unresponsive sports utility vehicle.
Further emphasizing the car’s more cossetting characteristics is the impressive amount of noise insulation, with little outside of a mere hint of wind whistle entering the cabin. Factor in the comfy and supportive seats in the spacious cabin we mentioned earlier, and the Toyota comes across as a rather appropriately named high-end SUV. That’s not to say the Land Cruiser is an unresponsive sports utility vehicle. Surprisingly, the steering is actually quite direct and responsive, which in conjunction with the large glasshouse makes the Toyota quite easy to place accurately on the road. The clever suspension system that’s primarily designed to keep the Land Cruiser stable off-road results in surprisingly well-contained body lean, too.
The Toyota Land Cruiser only comes with one engine type under the hood.
It’s not unusual to see big SUVs with a limited engine range. The Land Rover Range Rover only offers two ‘mainstream’ choices, and the Cadillac Escalade is only available with a single engine. Likewise, the Toyota Land Cruiser only comes with one engine type under the hood – though the powertrain itself is quite unconventional with regards to modern industry trends. Seemingly defiant on the downsizing and turbocharging norms, Toyota’s stuck with a 381-hp/401 lb-ft 5.7-liter eight-cylinder gasoline engine that’s seen use in other heavy duty Toyota models like the Tundra pick-up and the Sequoia SUV. Whilst that does mean the engine is rather well suited to life in a car like the Land Cruiser, we do reckon the 5.7-liter unit that useful for buyers who place fuel economy figures high on their priority list.
The Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t that efficient. With claims of 18mpg on the highway and just 13mpg in the city, the Toyota is amongst one of the thirstiest vehicles in this segment .
Even by standards of high-end SUVs with big engines, like the Infiniti QX80 and the aforementioned Cadillac Escalade, the Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t that efficient. With claims of 18mpg on the highway and just 13mpg in the city, the Toyota is amongst one of the thirstiest vehicles in this segment (the substantially cheaper Lincoln Navigator, which has similar power and torque levels to the Land Cruiser, can in its least frugal guise return 15mpg in the city and 19mpg on the highway). At least the engine itself is fairly flexible, with the decent power and torque figures being more than enough to bring the Toyota Land Cruiser up to speed. The new eight-speed automatic transmission also makes handy use of those outputs, as a result of smooth gear shifts and the abundance of ratios ensuring as much of the engine’s outputs are available as possible.
The Toyota has put in place some measures to help justify that rather steep price tag.
Earlier, we stated the Toyota Land Cruiser was quite the pricey car initially: there’s no getting around the fact $84,325 is a considerable amount of money to spend on one vehicle. However, Toyota has put in place some measures to help justify that rather steep price tag. For starters, there aren’t any trim levels or optional extra packages to contend with, leaving the specification of the $395 ‘Blizzard White’ paint or one of the myriad accessories (including, but not limited to, first aid kits, remote engine starters and all-weather mats) as the only ways you can increase the price of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Even more interestingly, Toyota has lavished a load of equipment onto the Land Cruiser that, in quite a few cases, are only available on certain trims and option packages on some chief rivals. Items you’d usually expect to pay extra for on other premium and luxury SUVs (heated front and middle row seats, four-zone climate control, rear seat entertainment systems, wireless smartphone charging functionality, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and built-in navigation) are all present on the Toyota Land Cruiser. As a result, you could argue the Land Cruiser’s a fairly reasonably priced car considering the vehicles it’s up against.
Based on past reliability ratings, the Toyota Land Cruiser does appear to be quite a sturdy and dependable vehicle.
Safety gear’s also quite impressive on the Toyota Land Cruiser, with the mandatory complement of airbags and stability systems being followed up with hill start assist, lane departure warning, forward collision alert and emergency autonomous braking. One feature that we’re especially surprised by, though, is the tire pressure monitoring system – mainly because it highlights the tire pressure of the Toyota Land Cruiser’s spare wheel. Based on past reliability ratings, the Toyota Land Cruiser does appear to be quite a sturdy and dependable vehicle – as probably expected, given the car’s off-roading credentials. Should it fail on you, though, there are at least two warranties (three-years/36,000-miles bumper-to-bumper; five-years/60,000-miles for the powertrain) to fall back on.