The legendary Toyota Land Cruiser
Once upon a time, a time long before there were Chevy Tahoes, GMC Yukons, Ford Expeditions and other big SUVs, there was the Toyota Land Cruiser. The Land Cruiser was ugly and very uncivilized, but no one cared – the people that bought it liked it because it could go just about anywhere. Now nearly 60 years later, the Land Cruiser is still around, but in order to keep up with the competition, it had to become civilized. That happened around ten years ago – and since then, not much has really changed for the ultimate Toyota SUV.
The current sixth-generation Land Cruiser is a far cry from the original. To make it easier to live with, it comes with a lot of amenities expected from a premium SUV. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is it’s ‘go anywhere’ image, thus all Land Cruisers are four-wheel drive – all the time.
The exterior design of the Land Cruiser is big and boxy – and to some eyes, even boring. But boring or not, this large Toyota is easily recognizable wherever it goes.
Inside though, the Land Cruiser is just one small step below Lexus luxury. Seating for 8 people is done in all leather in a cabin that demonstrates excellent build quality. A power sunroof, a JBL 14 speaker sound system, and a 4-zone climate control system are all standard equipment.
Up front seating is extremely comfortable with heated and cooled seats separated by a center console covered with buttons, knobs and controls. What looks like a storage bin in the middle turns out to be a cool box to keep beverages at just the right temperature. The 60/40 second row offers plenty of head and leg room and can even recline to offer even greater comfort. The third-row seating is the only let-down in the Land Cruiser interior. Toyota continues to use folding jump seats that fold to the side of the vehicle (or can be pulled out altogether with some tools) when not in use. An antiquated design and one I thought would have been history years ago, continues in the 2020 Land Cruiser.
For the 2020 model year, the Toyota does offer the Land Cruiser with a new Heritage Edition trim level. Going this route, the Land Cruiser is fitted with some unique BBS alloy wheels and throwback “TOYOTA Land Cruiser” Heritage badges. Inside, the Heritage Edition loses the third-row seats, making this special Land Cruiser a two-row 5-passenger SUV.
Under the hood is the same 5.7liter V8 found in the Toyota Tundra pickup truck. It cranks out 381 horsepower and over 400 ft-lbs of torque – all going through an eight-speed transmission. With this powerplant, the Land Cruiser feels extremely robust – you actually feel that you can go anywhere.
And you can, because the Land Cruiser is fitted with the latest in four-wheel drive technology. Take KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) which automatically stiffens or loosens the front and rear anti-roll bars depending on driving situations – this helps both on road driving as well as off road driving. But my favorite is Crawl Control which allows the Cruiser to maintain a fixed ultra-slow speed on off-road terrain without any driver input (except steering). Think of it as cruise control for off-road use.
With a price tag starting over the $85,000 mark the Land Cruiser doesn’t come cheap, making it by far the most expensive vehicle to wear a Toyota emblem.
Toyota admits that the Land Cruiser is more of a halo vehicle – accounting for less than 1% of total Toyota SUV sales. But as the company’s longest surviving nameplate in the lineup, the Toyota Land Cruiser is really more of an icon than anything. And a very good one at that.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition
Base Price: $87,645.00
Price as Tested: $89,239.00
Layout: front-engine / full-time four-wheel drive
Engine: 5.7 liter V8
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Horsepower: 381 hp
Torque: 401 ft-lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 13 city / 17 highway mpg
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