Fleet acceleration, a plush ride, responsive handling, and startling off-road prowess give the 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser performance that’s hard to beat.
Toyota’s new 5.7-liter V-8, shared with its other full-framed trucks and SUVs, churns out 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, enough to move this 5,900-pound SUV to 60 mph from rest in just 6.5 seconds. Car and Driver describes the power delivery as “velvety” and explains that it invokes the magic of variable valve timing, a variable-volume intake system, and an electronic fly-by-wire throttle to give performance that is “silky smooth and quiet”--until you ask it for max urge, at which point “you hear a muted yet mellifluous snarl from the engine bay.” Replacing last year’s five-speed auto, “an imperturbable six-speed automatic manages this output,” according to Automobile. Remarkably, this athletic, serene combination yields less emissions and better EPA numbers, at 13/18 mpg, than last year’s less powerful Cruiser.
Also impressive is the way the Land Cruiser comports itself on the tarmac. “Expect unflappable nonchalance over acned asphalt,” assures Car and Driver. “Body lean is fairly well controlled,” comments ConsumerGuide, who also find “responsive steering, combined with a fairly tight turning radius, results in good maneuverability for such a large vehicle.” A trick technology, KDSS in Toyota-Tech-Speak, increases roll-stiffness when both shock absorbers on a given side of the vehicle are compressed, giving this big, cushy boat surprising resistance to body lean on paved roads. Kelley Blue Book says its “ride comfort comes close to...luxury sedans” and calls its handling “precise and confidence-inspiring.”
That same system, KDSS, increases suspension compliance dramatically when only one wheel on a given side is forced upward, allowing for excellent suspension articulation necessary in true off-roading. That feature, a live rear axle (long known to be optimal for rock crawling), a locking Torsen center differential, and the new-for-’08 Crawl Control make the Land Cruiser “a mountain goat with stitched leather upholstery,” according to Motor Trend. Crawl Control takes the driver’s feet completely out of the equation when off-road, both accelerating and braking as needed to keep the Cruiser crawling at a predetermined speed, either uphill or down. It's an impressive display of microprocessing wizardry, no doubt, but one that Automobile cites “at once cause for wonder and dismay,” pointing out that true off-roaders like to do it themselves.