2011 Toyota Land Cruiser Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 12, 2011

The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser keeps with its iconic off-road tradition in some respects, but in most it simply bows to the suburbs.

Even among big, body-on-frame sport-utility vehicles, the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser stands as something different. Compared to Toyota's own much more affordable SUV, the Sequoia, the automaker has put forth extra years of engineering effort to imbue the Land Cruiser with top-notch off-roading ability and toughness that live up to its legendary name. Unfortunately, it doesn't look that much different from the Sequoia, and those who buy the Land Cruiser for suburban driveways might not be able to tell why.

The only engine that's offered in the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser is a brawny 5.7-liter V-8 engine rated at 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It's the same engine that's found in the full-size Tundra pickup, and here it's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive. On the road, the Land Cruiser's hefty 5,700-pound curb weight doesn't do it any favors in acceleration, the engine still feels strong in freeway merges and hauling or towing duty. The six-speed auto makes easy work of the necessary gear changes, operating quickly and smoothly. The only thing lacking from the equation is steering feel; it's a bit numb, and the ratio feels too long for tight highway esses.

The Land Cruiser's off-road capabilities are prodigious, thanks in part to its rugged body-on-frame construction and in part to its wide range of assistive technologies, including Hill Assist Control, Active-TRAC, and Downhill Assist Control. All of these can be activated and adjusted by controls in the center console. And it handles reasonably well—and reasonably flat, without a lot of body lean, on the road—thanks to a hydraulic suspension system called Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which acts as a tight anti-roll bar only when needed.

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The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser has a very spacious interior layout, with nice, high, and amply shaped front seats that afford a good view of the road, plus a second row that slides fore and aft several inches and has enough headroom and legroom for adults. Don't plan on using the optional third-row seating frequently, though; that's still a bit of an afterthought. Interior appointments aren't likely to wow you overall. Materials, fits, and finishes on this $70k+ vehicle aren't much of a step beyond those in a $30k Highlander, and the Land Cruiser won't earn points for feeling lavish. But it's quiet, tight, and vaultlike, with nearly no wind or road noise to speak of—though you do hear the engine a bit too much.

Many of the Land Cruisers normal-vehicle features are buffed up for use off-road or in extreme elements. For instance, the four-zone climate control system includes 28 air vents and a PTC heated that heats air instantly to help with cabin warm-up.

You won't run short of standard features and available options to ratchet up the price. All models come standard with a JBL six-disc CD changer stereo with 14 speakers, Smart Key keyless entry and push-button start, security system, cruise control, power moonroof, auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors, HomeLink garage door opener, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and heated power front and rear seats with driver memory settings. Available options include a rear-seat entertainment system, Bluetooth hands-free calling, sonar-based backup, and rearview monitor system. Last year, the optional navigation system was upgraded, including a smoother interface and an all-new Safety Connect telematics system that can inform emergency services in the case of an accident. Most of these options are bundled into a take-it-or-leave it package that boosts the Land Cruiser's sticker price to $75k though—a pretty penny, as it's about 20 grand more than a well-optioned V-8 Sequoia and nearly as much as the closely-related Lexus LX570.

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