- A true off-roader
- Inspires confidence by sheer bulk
- Tows and carries...anything?
- A long-haul experience
- V-8 is powerfully smooth
- Astronomically expensive
- Third-row seats
- Choppy ride
- Uninspired looks
Better equipped and more expensive than ever, the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is an off-road beast that offers some on-road comfort for its likely suburban lifestyle.
The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is a niche vehicle aimed at those who 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.
The off-road talent compromises the Land Cruiser's usefulness as an urban utility vehicle. The steering's loose, and the ride can be choppy unless it's fully laden with up to eight passengers. Three of those passengers will have to ride in a small third row, and those seats 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. Despite the 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, and maintaining the proper stiffness for the hydraulic suspension.
Of course, the Land Cruiser hasn't lost its ability to go virtually anywhere—if it needs to—and its luxury status places it squarely in 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 Land Rover 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?
A 381-horsepower V-8 powers the hulking, 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 5,700-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. This year, the 5.7 is paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Surprisingly, fuel economy numbers don't climb, but the transmission should keep the engine in its power band longer, thus taking a couple tenths off the 0-to-60 mph time.
The Land Cruiser also adds a suite of active safety features for 2016, including a forward collision warning system with pedestrian protection, lane departure warnings, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross traffic alerts.
Starting at just a smidge south of $85,000, the Land Cruiser isn't a luxury icon like the Land Rover Range Rover, and it's $40,000 more expensive than the slightly more practical Toyota Sequoia. However, the Land Cruiser is available only as one very well equipped model with all the features and no options of note. It comes packed with 10 airbags, a CD player, leather upholstery, a sunroof, heated front and rear seats, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, keyless ignition, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, parking sensors, a navigation system, HD radio, and Toyota's Entune suite. Entune offers access to mobile apps for use with its audio system, whether it's streaming Pandora audio or on-the-go Facebook updates filed by voice commands.
The Land Cruiser's EPA ratings are 13 mpg city, 18 highway, 15 combined. Given its weight, size, age, and off-road capabilities, those numbers aren't surprising.