The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is offered in only a single drivetrain, and while this isn't necessarily our top pick for family vehicles, it certainly earns high marks for brawny performance intended for off-road use. Under the hood is a 5.7-liter V-8 that produces 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. That's connected to a full-time four-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic transmission.
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.
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.
It's just shy of 6,000 pounds, thanks largely to its very heavy body-on-frame construction. That structure also gives it some substantial towing ability, even though it sounds and feels pretty smooth on the highway. The Land Cruiser isn't quick, though–you just can't bend the laws of physics–and the steering feels numb, due its four-wheel-drive system.
It's a wonder that the Land Cruiser handles as well as it does–there's very limited body roll in the turns–thanks to its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. It's able to stiffen the front and rear anti-roll bars for highway driving, while essentially disconnecting them when you head off-road. Even with that system, the Land Cruiser can be a little firm, which is especially obvious through potholes and large bumps. It's a great system for off-road comfort and handling with such a large vehicle, but rough roads will leave no question in your mind about the fact that the Land Cruiser is based on a truck's platform.
On-road dynamics aside, the Land Cruiser is a real champ in the dirt. 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.