- A true off-roader
- Inspires confidence by sheer bulk
- Tows and carries...anything?
- Astronomically expensive
- Third-row seats
- Choppy ride
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is every bit the off-road machine that it always has been--but the price is so, so high.
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruise is a niche vehicle aimed at those who intend to truly intend to take journeys over the paths less traveled. But the reality for streets and highways is that it's an oversized SUV with a thirst for gasoline that matches its massive profile.
The Land Cruiser has always been one for off-road prowess, but it's evolved into a luxury vehicle of sorts—without ever losing its ability to venture away from the pavement. In its past, the Land Cruiser knew deserts, mountains, and the Serengeti, but it's now better known for its trek through urban jungles and soccer fields.
Even so, the Land Cruiser hasn't lost its ability to go virtually anywhere—if it needs to—and its luxury status places it squarely into a small segment of vehicles that function as the arch-rivals for eco-friendly vehicles like the Toyota Prius. In looks, the Toyota Land Cruiser isn't all that different from the far cheaper Sequoia or the Land Cruiser's near-twin, the Lexus LX 570. Unlike the Range Rover, its shape is hardly iconic, and the base price is extraordinarily high--but what other vehicle has inspired the "Land Crusher" nickname and lived (again) to tell about it?
Its 381-horsepower V-8 powers the hulking, 5700-pound, body-on-frame utility vehicle through four-wheel drive with a locking differential that combines with rugged suspension design to provide hardcore off-road ability. It will both accelerate the 5700-pound Land Cruiser to highway speeds and beyond (though with a prodigious consumption of gasoline) and slip and slide over slick rocks far from any highway at all.
But this prodigious off-road talent compromises its usefulness as an urban utility vehicle. The steering's loose; the ride can be choppy unless it's fully laden with up to eight passengers. And three of them will have to ride in third-row seats that fold up to the sides of the cargo area--not into the floor like most modern crossovers, because that's where the rear axle lives. In this land of compromise, the latest electronics keep the Land Cruiser happier both on and off the pavement, controlling the way it trundles down and up hills, the way it traverses all kinds of terrain, keeping its hydraulic suspension at the proper stiffness.
Starting at just a smidge south of $80,000, the Land Cruiser isn't a luxury icon like the Land Rover Range Rover, and it's $30,000 more expensive that the slightly more practical Toyota Sequoia. But still the Land Cruiser returns, this year with virtually every previous option now standard. To go with its standard 10 airbags, CD player, and leather upholstery, the Land Cruiser now gets a power moonroof; heated front and rear seats; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; push-button start; Bluetooth; a rearview camera and parking sensors; a navigation system; HD radio; and Entune, the Toyota connectivity offering that enables mobile apps for use with its audio system, whether it's streaming Pandora audio or on-the-go Facebook updates filed by voice commands.