Toyota’s most expensive vehicle is better than ever
What’s New – The Land Cruiser is all-new from the ground up, with enhanced off-road technology, better on-road capability and all the luxury touches its buyers expect.
What We Think – The Toyota Land Cruiser is the company’s flagship, with high technology enhancing its already formidable off-road reputation without diminishing its around-town ride. We wish it got better fuel economy, and we wish it were less expensive...and we also wish there was one in our garage.
Toyota Land Cruiser – 2008 Review: The 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser is easy to love, but tough to justify. The list of loves is long: It’s a supremely capable off road machine; it’s comfortable and quiet inside; it’s loaded with features; it offers up lots of power and a very smooth ride. It can even tow a good-sized boat. What’s not to like?
How about a price tag well north of $70,000? Or fuel economy of only 12.8 mpg? How about that it’s smaller than Toyota’s Sequoia, yet costs $20,000 more when similarly equipped? Or that its cargo carrying capacity is diminished by an antiquated seat-folding philosophy?
The parallel existence of the Land Cruiser and the bigger Sequoia is a bit of a conundrum, especially when the latter is so much less expensive (and larger) than the former. In fairness, the Land Cruiser’s off-road technology, superior fit and finish and interior materials, and overall refinement mostly justifies the price premium over the Sequoia. Part of the appeal of the Land Cruiser is its heritage; as one of the oldest models in the Toyota lineup, and one with an enviable off-road reputation, the Land Cruiser has a loyal following, one that loves the vehicle’s smooth ride and trail-bashing ability and have enough money lying around to make the high price a non-issue. It’s also the most luxurious Toyota-branded vehicle you can buy, and its reputation carries a great deal of prestige among the horsie set, particularly for those who like to haul their own horsies. For those upper crust, horse-breeding, vinophile fans, this is far and away the best Land Cruiser ever, and we imagine that they’ll be immensely satisfied with it.
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Models and Pricing
Go for the Land Cruiser and you have one choice of vehicle, with only a handful of options. The basic truck costs $64,785 including the $685 destination charge. Not surprisingly, that gets you a lot of luxury features, such as leather seats with 10-way driver and eight-way passenger power adjustments; a stellar audio system; auto-dimming rear view mirror; push-button start; and most of the other bells and whistles that kind of scratch gets you.
Yet the Land Cruiser is ultimately about off-roading, so it comes standard with Toyota’s biggest V-8 engine, the 5.7-liter 381-horsepower beast that’s also in the Sequoia and Tundra, along with a six-speed automatic transmission. It also has an independent front and rear suspension, full-time four-wheel drive with a lockable center differential and low-range, and a downhill assist control system, which keeps the vehicle from accelerating too fast on steep descents.
Look at the options and you’ll probably just wind up going for the $7,245 Upgrade Package. This throws in simulated wood on the dash and steering wheel, a rear seat entertainment system, back up camera, DVD navigation, and a storage-eating cooled center console bin. It also gives you a rear spoiler, second-row seat heaters and headlamp cleaners. Thus equipped, a loaded Land Cruiser comes out to $72,030.
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Under the Hood
The Land Cruiser’s sole powertrain is the big iForce V-8 that’s found in the Sequoia and Tundra, vanquishing forever the complaint that the LC was sluggish. Thanks to the 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque, the Land Cruiser leaps off the line, the six-speed automatic transmission snapping off shifts quickly and smoothly. Despite its big truck roots, this is a refined and quiet powertrain in the Land Cruiser, its voice muted until the upper reaches of the rev band, where it makes deep throated V-8 noises any car lover will enjoy. We also found the manual function of the transmission useful, even if it wasn’t the quickest responding setup we’ve used.
That power and torque is driving all four wheels all the time. How hard they’re driven is up to the transfer case, which has a locking differential and a low-range for when the going gets post-apocalyptic. If the latter should occur, the Land Cruiser is a good choice. The first is Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), which keeps the Cruiser from rolling backwards when starting on a steep slope. It features Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which actively controls how much the vehicle’s body leans in corners, depending on the on-road or off-road situation. Toyota has also implemented CRAWL control, which controls engine speed and output, along with braking force, to move the Land Cruiser forward or backward in one of three low-speed settings. The idea is to let the driver concentrate on steering without worrying about the throttle or brakes. The system also includes Downhill Assist Control (DAC), which keeps the vehicle at a set speed in downhill situations without the driver’s help.
The suspension on the Land Cruiser is independent in front and a multi-link solid axle in the rear, and does an admirable job in its dual role performing serious off-road calisthenics and providing on-road comfort. It’s bolted to a traditional body-on-frame chassis, a setup which Toyota says allows it to meet its off-road and towing strength requirements without adding excess weight. Brakes are massive: 13.4-in. discs in front with four-piston fixed calipers, and 13.6-in. discs in the rear.