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- Remarkably good handling
- Silky powertrain
- Isolated, silent feel
- Tremendous off road capability
- Astronomically expensive
- Lexus LX 570 is only slightly pricier
- Not as luxurious as it should be inside
A legend in its own time, the Toyota Land Cruiser is as much a throwback to the past as it is a showcase for Toyota's engineering prowess.
Toyota may not be a niche manufacturer, but its 2017 Land Cruiser is certainly a defined vehicle aimed at a very specific buyer. Built to tackle the world's most remote places, it is an awkward fit in America's suburban landscape—but this highly-refined SUV delivers an especially high level of composure wherever its owners may choose to take it.
At a 6.4 out of 10 overall, the Land Cruiser offers tremendous poise and presence, but its utilitarian roots often show through. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Land Cruiser was heavily updated last year with a new transmission, revised styling outside, and a host of updated technologies inside. For 2017, it returns unchanged. The Land Cruiser is a near twin to the Lexus LX 570, but the latter utilizes a hydraulic suspension system to deliver a more plush ride on road at the expense of rough terrain capability.
2017 Toyota Land Cruiser styling and performance
With a far more conventional look than the LX 570, the Land Cruiser looks back to its early-1990s past with its chrome-heavy front fascia. It remains bulbous, but those curves do a reasonable job of hiding its girth. Inside, a choice of black or saddle leather trim keeps the Land Cruiser fairly fresh, and although it is highly functional, it lacks the flair of some rivals. There's room for eight, but the third row seat, as is the norm for big SUVs, is best for those of smaller stature.
Supple, semi-aniline leather trim seems at odds with some of hard plastic trim scattered throughout the Land Cruiser's interior, a reminder that the American version of this SUV is a bucks-up version of a work truck deployed to some of the most dangerous places in the world.
A complement of buttons and knobs on the center console operate a suite of features that turn this big SUV into a genuine rock crawler; that's more useful in, say, Mongolia than in Manhasset. But it's nice to know that capability is there.
That off-road talent compromises the Land Cruiser's usefulness as an urban utility vehicle—but not as much as it used to. Today's Land Cruiser boasts a trick suspension system that combines ultra-thick sway bars with a hydraulic system that automatically disconnects them for off-road articulation. The result is a surprising lack of body lean into corners on road and enough flex to keep all four wheels on the ground when the going gets rough. The Land Cruiser retains a solid rear axle for its durability and off road flexibility—not because it costs less than a fully independent setup like in, say, the Cadillac Escalade.
A 381-horsepower V-8 powers the hulking, body-on-frame utility vehicle through permanent four-wheel drive with a locking center differential. The V-8 pairs to a new 8-speed automatic that helps 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.
2017 Toyota Land Cruiser safety, features, and fuel economy
The Land Cruiser also added a suite of active safety features for 2017, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warnings, automatic high-beam LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross traffic alerts. A rearview camera and 10 airbags are standard.
Starting at around $85,000, the Land Cruiser is offered in just one flavor with no options aside from color choices. Standard features include premium leather seats, a JBL Synthesis audio system, LED headlamps, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual screens, and a power moonroof. Toyota's Entune infotainment system is on board with standard navigation and a 9.0-inch touchscreen sits high on the Land Cruiser's dashboard.
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, but what did shock us is that its 8-speed automatic didn't improve those figures over the old 6-speed.