- 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
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is every bit the off-road machine that it always has been--but the price is so, so high.
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruise is a niche vehicle aimed at those who intend to 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.
Even so, the Land Cruiser hasn't lost its ability to go virtually anywhere—if it needs to—and its luxury status places it squarely into 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 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?
Its 381-horsepower V-8 powers the hulking, 5700-pound, 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 5700-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.
But this prodigious off-road talent compromises its usefulness as an urban utility vehicle. The steering's loose; the ride can be choppy unless it's fully laden with up to eight passengers. And three of them will have to ride in third-row seats that 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. In this land of 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, keeping its hydraulic suspension at the proper stiffness.
Starting at just a smidge south of $80,000, the Land Cruiser isn't a luxury icon like the Land Rover Range Rover, and it's $30,000 more expensive that the slightly more practical Toyota Sequoia. But still the Land Cruiser returns, this year with virtually every previous option now standard. To go with its standard 10 airbags, CD player, and leather upholstery, the Land Cruiser now gets a power moonroof; heated front and rear seats; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; push-button start; Bluetooth; a rearview camera and parking sensors; a navigation system; HD radio; and Entune, the Toyota connectivity offering that enables mobile apps for use with its audio system, whether it's streaming Pandora audio or on-the-go Facebook updates filed by voice commands.
2015 Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser could use a refresh--and maybe some of the cool vintage cues from the discontinued FJ cruiser.
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is easy to spot on the road–it's bigger, beefier, and looks more capable than just about anything else in the Toyota lineup–save for maybe the Sequoia. However, it's a different story inside, where it's nearly as plush as its near-twin, the Lexus LX.
Inside, the Land Cruiser has the same, very upright, chunky styling that all the newer Toyota trucks have received. It's a pretty technology-heavy presentation, with a navigation screen top and center, plus climate, audio, and off-road controls below that, and it emphasizes a certain truth about the Land Cruiser's appeal—that it's rooted more in gated communities than in remote outposts. New this year are a perforated leather trim, more glossy woodgrain on the dash, and brighter metallic trim surrounding some of the dash panels.
From the outside, it's instantly recognizable for its size, though the current Land Cruiser also has a few of the most current industry trends going for it–like LED running lights, and it's bigger, bolder grille. While it might not look truly luxurious like the Land Rover lineup–or its near-twin, the Lexus LX 570–the Land Cruiser has the look of a confident off-roader, with big, handsome lines.
2015 Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser is the truckiest of trucks, thanks to its ground-crushing curb weight.
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.
2015 Toyota Land Cruiser
Comfort & Quality
The Land Cruiser seats eight on the spec sheet, but in the real world we'd only put adults in four of those chairs.
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser's interior finishes might not dazzle you, given the price. However, the seats are incredible comfortable, even if the interior doesn't feel much nicer than its Toyota Highlander sibling, which costs half the price. Visibility is excellent from the front row, and the Land Cruiser offers a tight, quiet ride, void of road or wind noise–though you can hear the engine if you rev through the gears.
In the second row, Toyota fits a sliding mechanism that enables several inches of fore-and-aft motion for the bench seat, to add flexibility to go with plentiful head and leg room. It makes up for the relative lack of utility in the third row: like most of these way-back seats, the Land Cruiser's rearmost bench is an afterthought. It's worse than usual, since the seats can't stow in the floor (that's where the off-roading hardware resides). Instead they swing off to the sides, where they narrow the Cruiser's cargo area.
2015 Toyota Land Cruiser
Crash-test scores for the very low-sales-volume Cruiser are absent--but being huge typically has its advantages.
The Land Cruiser hasn't recently been tested by the agencies that evaluate vehicle safety, but its sheer size and long list of active and passive safety features make it a solid bet in our books.
Among its standard safety features are some that were options just last year. They include ten airbags--among them second-row side airbags and front knee airbags--along with active headrests, stability control, tire pressure monitors, and anti-lock braking tuned for a variety of on- and off-road surfaces.
Toyota’s Pre-Collision System, new three years ago, is designed to detect other vehicles and obstacles and help optimize the restraining performance of the front passenger seat belts if a collision is imminent.
While there's plenty of window space in the Land Cruiser, visibility can be challenging in up-close parking situations because of its height next to other vehicles (not to mention kids and strollers and the like). Parking sensors are standard, and a rearview camera is included with the newly standard navigation system.
2015 Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser's priced in the stratosphere, for a Toyota--and equipment levels are about where they should be.
There really aren't any options available on the modern Land Cruiser–everything has become a standard feature.
There are power windows, locks and mirrors; a moonroof; leather upholstery; heated front and second-row seats; and four-zone climate control--it now also includes Bluetooth; a navigation system; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; rain-sensing wipers; a center-console cooled compartment; adaptive cruise control; and a heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel.
On top of that, there's also Toyota Entune. Wrapped into the audio system along with HD radio, satellite radio, a USB port and Bluetooth streaming, Entune enables mobile-phone app connectivity. That means your phone's Bing search can be run through the Land Cruiser's audio system, bringing live results to its navigation screen. Pandora music can filter through its audio system. You can even make OpenTable reservations using voice commands and steering-wheel controls while on the go.
2015 Toyota Land Cruiser
The Toyota Land Cruiser earns some of the lowest EPA ratings outside the exotic-car class.
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is unapologetically thirsty, but that's not necessarily surprising, given its weight, size, and off-road capabilities. It's rated at 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway by the EPA, which is a single mile per gallon better than its Lexus LX 570 near-twin.
Those who wish to go green in this class do have other options, like the Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC, or even the Cadillac Escalade or Chevrolet Tahoe. They return fuel economy higher than the Land Cruiser's, though in all cases they're not quite as off-road-focused as the Land Cruiser.