With a single drivetrain configuration, the hefty and brawny Land Cruiser is one talented off-roader. It's not the first choice we'd make for ferrying a carload of passengers on the highway, but in truth it's not awful at moving those people under reasonable power, with a decently controlled ride.
The drivetrain consists of a strong, torquey 5.7-liter V-8 engine with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Related to the engine found in Toyota's Tundra full-size truck, the engine couples to a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive.
Built from a traditional body-on-frame design, the Land Cruiser tucks in at a few hundred pounds under the 6,000-lb mark. While it sounds and feels strong enough to manage highway speeds, and shifts in a timely way to accomplish those feats or to pull off a fair amount of towing, it's not particularly quick--there's no overturning the laws of physics at work here. As is usually the case with four-wheel-drive vehicles, the Land Cruiser lacks good steering feel: it feels numb on center, and has too much slack built in its rack.
The Land Cruiser manages to handle 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. It dynamically stiffens the front and rear anti-roll bars through a hydraulic reservoir system on the highway, but can effectively disconnect them in the dirt, allowing smooth and stable handling on-road while allowing all that wheel articulation off-road.
Despite the high-tech KDSS suspension setup, we found the Land Cruiser's ride to be a bit too firm at times, even jolting over larger bumps. The system is well suited to helping reduce head-toss when out on the trail, and keeping the Land Cruiser level in the corners, but when cruising straight ahead on a choppy road there's no doubt you're in a truck.
What it lacks in on-road finesse, it more than makes up for in off-road talent. The Land Cruiser sports an approach angle of 30 degrees, a real low range for its 4WD system, and a locking center differential that can shift from 50 to 70 percent of available torque to the rear wheels, depending on the traction state and needs of the moment. The rear suspension offers a full 9.5 inches of travel to help articulate the wheels over the most demanding terrain. The Land Cruiser's construction also aids its off-road ability, with its body-on-frame construction making it more rugged and tough than most.
The Cruiser's stability control is also deeply integrated into its off-road package to manage grip: Hill Descent Control makes it easy to cruise slowly down tricky inclines, Trailer Sway Control mitigates the wagging motion induced by towed loads, and Hill Start Assist helps keep you from rolling backward on uphill starts. Newly added CRAWL control adapts throttle and braking to one of five settings tailored to different surfaces, making the Land Cruiser simpler to drive on mud, rocks, sand, or snow. Finally, an Off-Road Turn Assist does what other torque-vectoring systems do: it clamps an inside rear brake to help tighten corners.modulate the throttle or brake pedals. The Off-Road Turn Assist feature pulses the rear corner brakes to help the vehicle make sharper turns when maneuvering through tight quarters on rugged terrain. CRAWL Control with Off-Road Turn Assist includes Downhill Assist Control (DAC), which is designed to augment the low-speed descending ability of low-range by helping to hold the vehicle to a target speed with practically no driver intervention. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) provides additional control for off-road driving by helping to keep the vehicle stationary while starting on a steep incline or slippery surface.