Toyota Land Cruiser — Off-road luxury

By David Finkelstein

It was back in 1957 when Toyota first offered its flagship SUV Land Cruiser to consumers in the United States. Since that introduction six decades ago, Land Cruiser has evolved into one of the most luxurious full-capability SUVs on the market.

To “fast forward,” much of the vehicle was redone in the 2016 model year therefore, the 2017 is mostly carryover and unchanged. As expected, it continues to be offered with a full suite of standard luxury amenities and advanced Toyota Safety technologies, all encompassed in a bold and solid package.

As Toyota marketing frames it, Land Cruiser is this inimitable blend of premium appointments and uncanny off-road aptitude that has made it an immensely versatile machine that’s adored by its loyal and discerning customers the world over. Land Cruiser basically comes in one version — fully equipped and with seating for up to eight. There are no factory options other than the end user choosing color choices and perhaps some dealer add-on's when applicable.

With the vehicle's iconic appearance receiving a number of updates in '16, perhaps we can revisit some of the welcomed changes. This includes a new front bumper and grille assembly, projector-beam LED low and high beam headlights, headlight lens cleaners and an integrated Land Cruiser badge logo. Additionally, the hood’s distinctive bulges stamped in the sheet metal serve to illustrate the 5.7-liter V8’s brawny "brute force" strength. Its rated at 381-horsepower. Electronically and mechanically linked to all of that performance is Toyota’s 8-speed computer controlled automatic transmission.

The vehicle's taillights are engineered with a unique design which also includes the LED brake lights. Full-width chrome molding accents help make the rear bumper more attractive, while the vehicle's chrome body side molding is showcased with an embossed Land Cruiser logo.

Attractive 18-inch alloy wheels accentuate Land Cruiser’s muscular profile. The rugged body-on-frame construction is manufactured with extensive use of high-strength steel. When you get the urge to go off-roading, the highly engineered suspension design combines proven trail capability with advanced control technology.

When it comes to pulling a camper or boat for instance, the factory includes a standard Trailer Towing Package therefore, with little effort it can pull a trailer up to 8,100 pounds. The hardware needed for towing is all there as well. This includes an under hood heavy-duty engine oil cooler plus a rear wiring harness with a water tight connector that facilitates a trailer-brake controller. Trailer Sway Control uses Vehicle Stability Control to help counteract trailer sway, thus helping to make towing less stressful.

Land Cruiser’s full-time 4WD system uses a limited-slip locking center differential to distribute torque where necessary. Should wheel slippage occur, the differential can seamlessly direct additional torque to the suspect drive wheels for the best grip. Active Traction control employs both brake and throttle intervention to also help control wheel spin.

Land Cruiser’s Multi-terrain Select system allows the driver to match wheel slip control to various surfaces and driving conditions. It further helps you negotiate conditions whereas you might be driving on loose terrain such as on mud or sand. Multi-terrain select is also designed for driving on extremely uneven topography such as what's encountered on V-ditches, slopes, and ridges.

When it comes to the best in modern automotive interior luxury, Land Cruiser tends to lead the throng. With the factories no options policy, the long list of standard amenities are extensive. This includes perforated leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescoping with memory. Additionally, they include keyless entry with push-button start, anti-theft security system with engine immobilizer, power moonroof, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, HomeLink universal garage-door/gate opening system, four-zone automatic climate control system and a micro-dust and pollen filter plus a rapid electric cabin heater that quickly brings the passenger compartment to a comfortable environment in the winter. It uses a ceramic heating element, similar to a household space heater.

The panel of bright easy to read instrument gauges are also linked with a Multi-Information Display showing numerous driving information data. An enhanced surround monitor illustrates side and/or rear views with near 360-degree visibility.

Toyota’s flagship sport-utility, is outfitted with JBL’s premium multimedia technology. It's integrated with the navigation system and also includes 14 speakers thus creating quality audio fidelity. The SUV also uses a highly advanced millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera system designed to detect pedestrians plus other vehicles as well as visible lane markers. It will then automatically apply braking if necessary to help mitigate or avoid collisions under certain conditions.

Land Cruiser is covered by its 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty. Powertrain coverage is for 60-months or 60,000 miles. Also included is there complimentary service plan. It covers normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

At road test, the '2017 Land Cruiser I drove had a MSRP of $85,520 which includes the $1,195 for shipping/destination charges. The EPA fuel consumption numbers are 13-mpg city/18-highway.