Cross streams, crawl over rocks and climb sand dunes. Those are some of the things the Toyota Land Cruiser will allow you to do on your way home from work.
Despite the fact that all crossovers and SUVs sit considerably higher than the average sedan or coupe, not all of them are built equal — especially when it comes to off-road prowess. In fact, an off-road “badge” on a crossover or SUV can mean very little sometimes.
Interestingly enough, you won’t find a single Trail-Rated, 4×4, or even AWD badge on the newest Toyota Land Cruiser, even though the three-row SUV is one of the most legendary off-roaders ever made. Employed by rescue teams in remote parts of the world, park rangers in the Serengeti, and desert explorers in the Arabian Peninsula, the Land Cruiser is as tough and capable as it gets. It seems the folks at Toyota are into the whole “Walk the walk” and not “Talk the talk” thing.
Of course, possessing the ability to traverse harsh terrain is cool, but can the Land Cruiser mingle with civilians and everyday, mundane tasks?
Measuring over 16 ft. in length, nearly 7 ft. wide, and weighing almost 6,000 pounds, the Land Cruiser is a beast in its own right and it shows during everyday driving. The truck-based platform grants it a firm ride quality on the highway, but on bumpy streets its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) manages to absorb imperfections with ease, providing a smooth ride for all occupants.
Speaking of occupants, the Land Cruiser fits eight passengers across three rows of leather seating. That being said, the third row is on the narrow side, so I’d limit it to a seven-passengers for comfort sake. Unfortunately, the third row doesn’t feature any LATCH anchors, limiting the “Cruiser’s” baby seat capacity to only two in the second row.
When it comes to cargo capacity, the upward-folding third-row seats make for a somewhat awkward cargo space, but there’s still enough room for what life throws at most of us. With the third row stowed, there are 43 cubic feet of cargo space, and only 16.1 with it deployed. Compare that to its considerably smaller siblings, the Highlander and 4Runner, which boast 42.3 and 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space.
If you’re into “weekending,” the Land Cruiser provides endless possibilities courtesy of its 8,100-pound towing capacity and 5.7-liter V8 engine with 381 horsepower. In fact, it’s the same engine that’s in the Tundra we recently “weekended in” not too long ago. Fuel-economy wasn’t great during our test — not by a long shot — but this isn’t the kind of vehicle you’d expect decent fuel economy from. Our weeklong test delivered 11.5 mpg city and 15.6 mpg highway. The EPA estimate is 13 mpg city, 18 highway, and 15 combined.
The Land Cruiser was an enjoyable experience for both drivers and passengers. The kiddos found themselves nestled in a comfortable second row, which featured two separate climate control zones (four total), two USB ports, two cupholders, leather-wrapped heated seats, and dual 11-inch screens with integrated DVD player and HDMI hookups.
Up front, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated, and the driver’s seat can be adjusted in 10 different ways and saved in three possible configurations to fit three different drivers (a life saver!). The passenger seat is only eight-way adjustable, but both front seats are wrapped in perforated leather and are ventilated and heated.
The center screen dash stands out from the rest of the Toyota (and even Lexus) lineup with a sharp nine-inch resolution screen. Unfortunately, the infotainment system still looks, feels, and performs like it’s from 1999.
Active safety systems like Blind Spot Monitoring System, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Auto High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control bring the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser into modern times and create a safe and seamless driving experience. Despite its size and weight, the unstoppable SUV is easy to maneuver around town, including pulling into parking spots forward and backward with the help of its rear and side cameras.
If you’re looking for a practical and agile three-row SUV to drive around town and don’t have much need for out-of-this-world capabilities, the Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a vehicle that’s as tough as nails, can cross the Saharan Desert, and handle whatever a busy metropolis throws at it, the Land Cruiser is the right tool for the job.
- Starts at: $83,665
- As-tested: $85,529