2017 Toyota Land Cruiser Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
June 14, 2017

A legend in its own time, the Toyota Land Cruiser is as much a throwback to the past as it is a showcase for Toyota's engineering prowess.

Toyota may not be a niche manufacturer, but its 2017 Land Cruiser is certainly a defined vehicle aimed at a very specific buyer. Built to tackle the world's most remote places, it is an awkward fit in America's suburban landscape—but this highly-refined SUV delivers an especially high level of composure wherever its owners may choose to take it. 

At a 6.4 out of 10 overall, the Land Cruiser offers tremendous poise and presence, but its utilitarian roots often show through. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Land Cruiser was heavily updated last year with a new transmission, revised styling outside, and a host of updated technologies inside. For 2017, it returns unchanged. The Land Cruiser is a near twin to the Lexus LX 570, but the latter utilizes a hydraulic suspension system to deliver a more plush ride on road at the expense of rough terrain capability. 

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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser styling and performance

With a far more conventional look than the LX 570, the Land Cruiser looks back to its early-1990s past with its chrome-heavy front fascia. It remains bulbous, but those curves do a reasonable job of hiding its girth. Inside, a choice of black or saddle leather trim keeps the Land Cruiser fairly fresh, and although it is highly functional, it lacks the flair of some rivals. There's room for eight, but the third row seat, as is the norm for big SUVs, is best for those of smaller stature. 

Supple, semi-aniline leather trim seems at odds with some of hard plastic trim scattered throughout the Land Cruiser's interior, a reminder that the American version of this SUV is a bucks-up version of a work truck deployed to some of the most dangerous places in the world. 

A complement of buttons and knobs on the center console operate a suite of features that turn this big SUV into a genuine rock crawler; that's more useful in, say, Mongolia than in Manhasset. But it's nice to know that capability is there. 

That off-road talent compromises the Land Cruiser's usefulness as an urban utility vehicle—but not as much as it used to. Today's Land Cruiser boasts a trick suspension system that combines ultra-thick sway bars with a hydraulic system that automatically disconnects them for off-road articulation. The result is a surprising lack of body lean into corners on road and enough flex to keep all four wheels on the ground when the going gets rough. The Land Cruiser retains a solid rear axle for its durability and off road flexibility—not because it costs less than a fully independent setup like in, say, the Cadillac Escalade. 

A 381-horsepower V-8 powers the hulking, body-on-frame utility vehicle through permanent four-wheel drive with a locking center differential. The V-8 pairs to a new 8-speed automatic that helps 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. 

2017 Toyota Land Cruiser safety, features, and fuel economy

The Land Cruiser also added a suite of active safety features for 2017, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warnings, automatic high-beam LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross traffic alerts. A rearview camera and 10 airbags are standard.

Starting at around $85,000, the Land Cruiser is offered in just one flavor with no options aside from color choices. Standard features include premium leather seats, a JBL Synthesis audio system, LED headlamps, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual screens, and a power moonroof. Toyota's Entune infotainment system is on board with standard navigation and a 9.0-inch touchscreen sits high on the Land Cruiser's dashboard. 

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, but what did shock us is that its 8-speed automatic didn't improve those figures over the old 6-speed. 

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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser

Styling

An update last year brought the Land Cruiser more in tune with the times, both inside and out.

Thought is basic shape dates back to its last clean-sheet redesign for the 2008 model year, the 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser was recently updated with a new look that works well, scoring 7 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Land Cruiser needs to be a timeless vehicle for Toyota—especially because its long product cycles mean that it is only totally rehabbed about once a decade. It remains bigger, beefier, and more capable than anything else in the Toyota lineup, and it mostly eschews trendy add-ons. 

Last year's refresh gave the Land Cruiser a bold grille that stretches into the head lamps, a look inspired by the 1990s version of this truck. The look works, and it keeps this big bruiser in tune with its past. At the rear, the Land Cruiser is less distinctive, but with so few on the road, it's unlikely you'll see another one on the same day. 

Inside, the truck's age once again reveals itself, but Toyota has done a good job integrated new technologies into its basic design. The dashboard isn't deep, but it is vertical. Controls are grouped together nicely, and gadget freaks should be happy with the full complement of buttons and knobs to control its suite of off-road tech. 

Though we would expect proper wood trim at this price point, at least the latest fake stuff slapped onto the Land Cruiser's dashboard is somewhat convincing. 

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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser

Performance

For an 8,600-pound vehicle, the Land Cruiser handles better than you may expect.

The 2017 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 its brawny performance.

And although it weighs nearly 5,800 pounds, the Land Cruiser is surprisingly adept on pavement thanks to a rugged but sophisticated suspension setup, which helps it earn a 6 out of 10 for its performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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 an 8-speed automatic developed in-house by Toyota. Unlike most of its rivals, the Land Cruiser retinas a body-on-frame construction, which aids in its durability and rigidity for heavy duty use; in the far reaches of the globe, Land Cruisers remain ubiquitous. The same is true for the Land Cruiser's suspension, which consists of a modern independent setup up front but retains a chunky solid axle at the rear. 

Those specs are, to this point, identical in the Lexus LX 570. Where the Land Cruiser strays is in its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which combines enormous sway bars with a hydraulic disconnect system. The on-road benefits are obvious at the first curve: body roll is surprisingly limited, and even though the Land Cruiser's steering isn't exactly communicative, it inspires confidence on a winding road. And its big brakes rein things in, something we haven't always been able to say about Land Cruisers.

That's not to suggest that the Land Cruiser is anything approaching a sports car. Its 5.7-liter V-8 delivers a ferocious, almost NASCAR-inspired growl, and the 8-speed automatic mates well with it to keep the engine within its power band. Although there's no escape the laws of physics, a 0-60 mph sprint of around 6.7 seconds is more than adequate.  

Where the Land Cruiser really comes into its own is away from the pavement. 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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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser

Comfort & Quality

Its Lexus LX cousin is certainly swankier, but the Land Cruiser is exceptionally comfortable inside.

The 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser's interior probably won't dazzle you, but there's more than meets the eye here. An exceptionally high degree of comfort and utility outweighs some disappointingly low-buck materials found here and there, giving the Land Cruiser an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Front row passengers are treated to heated and air conditioned thrones that make excellent perches for long stints on the highway (or on no road at all). Outboard rear seat passengers are similarly comfortable, and they each get their own screen. Even the middle seat passenger in the rear doesn't suffer much, and their 40/20/40-split bench can be slid fore and aft. A pair of third row jump seats fold up against the cargo area better than in Land Cruisers past, but that comes at the expense of padding. For occasional use, they're fine, and those seated all the way back there do get their own climate control vents and cup holders. 

The Land Cruiser's cargo area is accessed by a drop-down tailgate, something also seen on the Land Rover Range Rover. That requires a hefty stretch, but it provides a nice place to rest for tailgating. 

Where the Land Cruiser is let down is in its interior materials. Many are acceptable for the price point, like the fragrant semi-aniline leather upholstery, the soft headliner, and the high-resolution screens, but the silver-painted plastic, fake wood, and low-buck hard plastic on the lower door panels and dashboard are, simply, unacceptable at this price point. They're reminders of the fact that the American market is only a small slice of global Land Cruiser sales and most are bound for severe work duty. 

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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser

Safety

The Land Cruiser offers all of the expected safety tech, but it has not been crash tested.

With limited sales, the Toyota Land Cruiser won't likely be tested by the agencies that evaluate vehicle safety, but it does pack all of the collision avoiding and preventing technologies we expect out of a vehicle at this price point.

We cannot assign the Land Cruiser a safety score until it is tested by the NHTSA and the IIHS. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

One truth holds, however: big, heavy vehicles fare better in collisions than small ones. And the Land Cruiser sure is big. 

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. LED headlamps with automatic high beams were added last year and they deliver a particularly clear view of the road ahead.  

Collision avoidance items like automatic emergency braking with the ability to detect pedestrians, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitors all come as standard. The Land Cruiser won't nudge itself back into its lane if the driver allows it to drift, however.

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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser

Features

The Land Cruiser lavishes with off road tech, even though buyers may not use it.

The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is offered as a single, well-equipped model without any options aside from dealer or port-installed accessories and, of course, interior and exterior color choices. We rate the Land Cruiser an 8 for its high feature content but dock it points for its limited customizability. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Eschewing trendy 20-inch (or larger) wheels, the Land Cruiser rides on 18s—chosen because they offer the larger sidewalls necessary for off roading. Another concession to four-wheeling is that the Land Cruiser includes beefy tow hooks front and rear, and its running boards are easy to remove. 

Inside, the Land Cruiser is comprehensively equipped with semi-aniline leather, four-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 11.2-inch screens and an HDMI input, and even a cooled center console capable of chilling a few bottles of water. 

On top of that, there's Toyota's 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, branded Entune. Wrapped into the audio system along with HD radio and satellite radio, Entune enables mobile-phone app connectivity. Pandora music can filter through the Land Cruiser's JBL Synthesis 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.

The concierge apps seem dubious to us, but Toyota's Pandora integration is especially clean. 

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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser

Fuel Economy

If you're looking for an eco-friendly vehicle, this isn't the one for you.

If fuel economy matters to you, may we interest you in something other than a 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser?

This thirsty brute tips the scales at around 5,800 pounds before passengers and cargo, and with its big V-8 and blocky shape, it's no shock that it only earns a 4. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At 13 mpg city, 18 highway, 15 combined, the Land Cruiser's consumption isn't surprising. Virtually all rivals short of the practically military-spec Mercedes-Benz G550 better the Land Cruiser, but at least Toyota can brag that its V-8 only requires 87 octane fuel. 

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November 30, 2016
2017 Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD (GS)

Awesome truck

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Yes this truck is not as flashy as an Escalade, it's understated elegance. It's nice to not see many around, but for those that know what a land cruiser is, they understand what they're getting. The LC is... + More »
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$84,775
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6.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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  • 2018 Land Cruiser still rolling in
  • Rebate: Still no cash incentives
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