2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Editor
June 27, 2016

Better equipped and more expensive than ever, the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is an off-road beast that offers some on-road comfort for its likely suburban lifestyle.

The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is a niche vehicle aimed at those who 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.

The off-road talent compromises the Land Cruiser's usefulness as an urban utility vehicle. The steering's loose, and the ride can be choppy unless it's fully laden with up to eight passengers. Three of those passengers will have to ride in a small third row, and those seats 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. Despite the 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, and maintaining the proper stiffness for the hydraulic suspension.

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Of course, the Land Cruiser hasn't lost its ability to go virtually anywhere—if it needs to—and its luxury status places it squarely in 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 Land Rover 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?

A 381-horsepower V-8 powers the hulking, 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 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. This year, the 5.7 is paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Surprisingly, fuel economy numbers don't climb, but the transmission should keep the engine in its power band longer, thus taking a couple tenths off the 0-to-60 mph time.

The Land Cruiser also adds a suite of active safety features for 2016, including a forward collision warning system with pedestrian protection, lane departure warnings, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross traffic alerts.

Starting at just a smidge south of $85,000, the Land Cruiser isn't a luxury icon like the Land Rover Range Rover, and it's $40,000 more expensive than the slightly more practical Toyota Sequoia. However, the Land Cruiser is available only as one very well equipped model with all the features and no options of note. It comes packed with 10 airbags, a CD player, leather upholstery, a sunroof, heated front and rear seats, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, keyless ignition, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, parking sensors, a navigation system, HD radio, and Toyota's Entune suite. Entune offers access to mobile apps for use with its audio system, whether it's streaming Pandora audio or on-the-go Facebook updates filed by voice commands.

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.

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2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

Styling

Vintage cues from the discontinued FJ Cruiser could add some visual interest to the aging Land Cruiser.

The 2016 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. It has a few of the most current industry trends going for it, like LED lighting, and a big, bold grille. While it might not look truly luxurious like the Land Rover lineup, or Lexus LX 570 near twin, the Land Cruiser has the look of a confident off-roader, with big, handsome lines.

Inside, the Land Cruiser is nearly as plush the LX 570, another aging vehicle, but the materials aren't as rich as the competition. It has the same upright, chunky styling that the latest 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. The look and tech emphasize a certain truth about the Land Cruiser's appeal—that it's rooted more in gated communities than in remote outposts.

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2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

Performance

With its old school body-on-frame construction and heavy curb weight, the Land Cruiser drives like a big truck.

The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is offered with 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 pound-feet of torque. That's connected to a full-time four-wheel-drive system shifted through a new 8-speed automatic.

This full-size SUV is 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 is capable of towing up to 8,100 pounds. It isn't quick, though—you just can't bend the laws of physics. However, the new 8-speed automatic is likely to keep the engine in its power range longer and therefore shorten 0 to 60 mph times.

It's a wonder that the Land Cruiser handles as well as it does. While the steering feels numb, due its four-wheel-drive system, body roll in turns is surprisingly limited, thanks to its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. This system is able to stiffen the front and rear anti-roll bars for highway driving, while essentially disconnecting them when you head off-road. Even with KDSS, the Land Cruiser can feel 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. It sports an approach angle of 30 degrees, a low range for its four-wheel drive 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 9.5 inches of travel to help articulate the wheels over the most demanding terrain.

The Land Cruiser's stability control is also deeply integrated into its off-road package to manage grip. Trailer Sway Control mitigates the wagging motion induced by towed loads. Toyota includes a hill-descent control program to help the big 'ute clamber down, and a hill-start assist program that helps keep the vehicle stationary while starting on a steep incline or slippery surface. CRAWL control adapts throttle and braking to one of five settings tailored to different surfaces, making the Land Cruiser simple to drive on mud, rocks, sand, or snow. An Off-Road Turn Assist feature pulses the rear brakes to help the vehicle make sharper turns when maneuvering through tight quarters on rugged terrain.

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2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

Comfort & Quality

While the Land Cruiser offers seats for eight, we'd only put adults in four of them.

The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser's interior finishes might not dazzle you, given the price. In fact, the materials aren't much of a cut above those of the Toyota Highlander, which costs less than half the price. However, the seats are incredibly comfortable, visibility is excellent from the front row, and wind and road noise are virtually nonexistent. The engine lets out a nice V-8 growl if you rev through the gears.

The second-row seat can slide fore and aft several inches to add flexibility to go with plentiful head room and leg room. This feature at least partially makes up for the relative lack of utility in the third row. Like many third rows, the rearmost bench in the Land Cruiser 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.

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2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

Safety

Low sales volume means no crash-test scores, but the large Land Cruiser should win in most collisions.

While there's many windows 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).

With limited sales, the Toyota Land Cruiser won't be tested by the agencies that evaluate vehicle safety. One truth holds, however: big vehicles fare better in collisions than small ones. The Land Cruiser also has a long list of active and passive safety features, including several new ones that make it a solid bet in our books.

Standard safety features include 10 airbags—among them second-row side airbags and front knee airbags—along with parking sensors, a rearview camera, active headrests, stability control, tire pressure monitors, and anti-lock braking tuned for a variety of on- and off-road surfaces.

Also standard is Toyota’s Pre-Collision System, which is designed to detect other vehicles and obstacles and help optimize the restraint performance of the front seat belts if a collision is imminent. New for 2016 is a forward-collision warning system that includes pedestrian protection and can apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate a collision at speeds below 24 mph. Also new this year are lane departure warnings, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts.

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2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

Features

The Land Cruiser is stratospherically priced, but at least it comes with plenty of equipment.

The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is offered as a single, well-equipped model without any significant options.

Standard exterior features include 18-inch alloy wheels; LED headlights, fog lights, daytime running lights, and taillights; a sunroof; a roof rack; aluminum running boards; a rear spoiler; rain-sensing windshield wipers; and front and rear tow hooks.

Inside, the Land Cruiser gets leather upholstery; heated front and second-row seats; four-zone climate control; power windows, locks and mirrors; Bluetooth; a navigation system; a USB port; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; 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 and satellite radio, Entune enables mobile-phone app connectivity. Pandora music can filter through its audio system. You can make OpenTable reservations using voice commands and steering-wheel controls while on the go. Your phone's Bing search can also bring live results to the navigation screen.

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2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

Fuel Economy

Heavy and thirsty, the Land Cruiser's EPA ratings are similar to those of exotic cars.

The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is very thirsty. If fuel economy matters to you, rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC—or even the Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Tahoe—offer better ratings. Be aware, however, that they're not quite as off-road-focused as the Land Cruiser.

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.

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February 21, 2016
2016 Toyota Land Cruiser 4-Door 4WD (Natl)

2016 is a vast improvement over the 2015. I think it is the best SUV on the road if Price is a secondary concern.

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I have driven both vehicles in modest off road settings and heavy snow and both vehicles perform exceptionally well. I wish that one could increase the ground clearance for very heavy snow but you can't have... + More »
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