SEATTLE — Every so often, there comes a vehicle with such a loyal fan base that it enjoys a tremendously long lifespan. The Land Cruiser from Toyota is such a vehicle. Having been in production since the early 1950s, few vehicles in history have been so revered by its fans. The pedigree in which it was born, is still alive in this 2019 model year.
A part of what has always made the Land Cruiser such a great vehicle is how it combined off road prowess with on-road drivability and sensibility. All of the latest tech gadgets are here as well as comfortable seating and a powerful V8 engine.
While it has undergone several styling changes over the years, Toyota has done an admirable job of preserving its heart and soul. This 2019 model looks far different than the FJ80-series, for example, but still has enough design cues that give a nod to its heritage. The Land Cruiser has never tried to be the most cutting-edge in aesthetics, but more important to its customer base, is its off-road prowess.
Toyota’s trusty 5.7-liter V8 is good for 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. More than plenty to haul around all 5,815 pounds the Land Cruiser weighs. It’s coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission and has an EPA rating of 13 miles per gallon in the city and up to 18 on the highway. Not exactly great, but seems to be on-par with other, heavy trucks/suvs with large displacement V8 engines.
Because it’s chassis and all-wheel-drive system makes it a highly capable off-road vehicle, one has to question certain things. Why are there running boards? These will only lower its overall effective-height. Why does it not have driver-adjusted height for extra ground clearance? Some of its competitors do at this price point.
Having said that, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more advanced all-wheel-drive system in any vehicle. The way it hands chores like crawl-control, downhill descent and certain terrain conditions like snow or sand and gravel, keep it at the top of its game. If you get in these kinds of off-road conditions, you’ll see the brilliance that is the Land Cruiser — you’ll likely want to remove those running boards yourself, to create more ground clearance. Additionally, you could also think about adding a lift kit and getting taller tires. However, even in its stock form, it’s a more than capable off-roader that has the ability to go places many other SUVs can’t.
It has the goods inside, to match:
Inside, you’ll see that Toyota spared little expense in placing all occupants into a plush environment, along with all of the latest tech-gadgets we love.
Starting with the JBL-powered infotainment system, you simply will not find a better-sounding system in any new car, period. Yes, it’s that good. Mind-blowing in fact. It is, by far, the closest thing we’ve ever experienced to a premium aftermarket solution. With bass response that seems to have no limitations on how low it can go, to mids and highs that sound like something right out of a recording studio. While this like extensive use of hyperbole, you do need to experience it to see what we’re saying is true.
The seats are amazingly comfortable for both driver and front passenger and are fully electronically adjustable. The second row also has good seats with ample leg room for most adults. As far as the third row is concerned? Well, they’re still more liken to jump-seats. Small kids will do okay back there, but forget anyone over the age of 10.
On and off the road:
On the road, you’ll find that the Land Cruiser is very civil to drive and does a reasonably good job of handling itself. However, it still very much drives like the off-road champion that it is. This likely is not an issue to anyone who’d be buying one in the first place, however. Acceleration is good for such a heavy SUV and stopping power is adeptly handled by four-wheel disc brakes that never showed any signs of brake fade. There’s some modest body roll around sharp corners but it’s to be expected.
If you were to make a few modifications, like pulling off the running-boards to start, you’ll find that there’s really not much, off-road, that will stop the Land Cruiser. It has one of the most advanced all-wheel-drive systems in any new vehicle. It’s really the perfect rig for someone who lives on a working ranch, has a home in the mountains or frequently drives on terrain that’d be impassable by standard vehicles.
In the end, it’s difficult to imagine that Toyota sells many of the Land Cruisers and that’s somewhat evident to the relatively low amount of them they make each year. It’s certainly a specific demographic. Of course there are competitors out there, like the Jeep Rubicon, that also have tremendous off-road prowess, however, they don’t have the overall size and comfort as a fully-decked out Land Cruiser. Additionally, none of them have Toyota’s legendary reliability.
If you’re an avid Land Cruiser lover and have an extra $85k sitting around, you should certainly make it a point to test drive one at your local dealer.
For more info, check out: www.toyota.com