2017 Toyota Land Cruiser Review

Toyota's most expensive vehicle is beastly in more than one way


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Serious off-road capabilities, Toyota's best interior, built like a WWII pillbox, stuffed with every Toyota tech bit available
Negatives: Feels hefty in turns, rides a bit choppy, limited third-row and storage space, painfully expensive
Bottom Line: The Land Cruiser sometimes feels like a dinosaur in the three-row SUV segment, but that's because it remains true to its off-road prowess. Thankfully, it's hugely comfortable and seriously well-appointed. This is the SUV you get if you don't care about brand cache or gas mileage.
 View Our 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser Overview
If you think the Land Cruiser is just a large, obscure SUV from Toyota, you'd be dead wrong. In fact, the Land Cruiser has been around in one form or another since 1951, and it's considered an off-roading legend from the mountains of Japan to the deserts of Africa. The body-on-frame SUV has grown over the decades into a luxurious sport utility vehicle with the power to move it more quickly than you'd expect. The question is, in a world of great SUVs that don't have to conquer big rocks and big inclines, is the Land Cruiser still relevant as a 7-passenger SUV? We drove it for a week to find out what the case is for it.
 

Driving Experience

6.5

 

The first thing you notice about the Land Cruiser (more than its size) is its near 6,000-lb curb weight. That's nearly the weight of two small sedans to give you perspective. At least its powered by an appropriate V8 with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque that move the Land Cruiser to 60 in under 7 seconds, a feat in and of itself. Though it's far from entertaining to drive, the experience is better than we expected thanks to good steering and a solid set of electronics and hydraulic suspension that keeps pavement in check. We didn't get a chance to off-road this beast, but it's reputation precedes it thanks to the Multi-Terrain System that will easily manage more than you will ever throw at it.

Ride Quality: For the most part, the Land Cruiser is decent on road, but it has a tendency to get choppy like a pickup truck, largely due to its combined heft and body-on-frame construction. Load it up, however, and things even out nicely.

Acceleration: Acceleration is strong for a vehicle this corpulent. The V8 is powerful and moves the Land Cruiser faster than it should logically go.

Braking: The brake pedal was a bit mushy at the top, but it manages to halt the Land Cruiser respectably.

Steering: We wouldn't call the steering responsive, but it's better than you expect. It is heavy and takes effort, but at least it's not vague like most SUVs.

Handling: The body roll is kept to a minimum, but you feel the weight in every turn.

Technology

8.5

 

For north of $80K, you expect a solid set of tech specs, and the Land Cruiser doesn't disappoint. It gets pretty much every tech bit Toyota can throw at you (short of a lap-timer), and it's all standard. There are no options available on this luxo-barge. The Land Cruiser comes festooned with plenty of tech to keep everyone entertained and connected with a 9.0-inch touchscreen with Siri Eyes Free voice-recognition tech, and two headrest-mounted 11.6-inch screens to keep the rugrats quiet. The addition of a Qi wireless inductive charging pad never has you fussing with those pesky cables.

Infotainment System:We're not huge fans of the Entune infotainment system, but at least the screen is vivid, large and well-placed.

Controls: Buttons and knobs are easy to access, and it's all fairly intuitive. The steering wheel controls work well, except for the audio volume and forward and reverse, which we though should be switched.

Bluetooth Pairing: Toyota's system works very well. One of the best.

Voice Call Quality: Clear calls throughout our review period with no issues to speak of.

Styling

7.2

 

You'd never guess the Land Cruiser was refreshed for 2016 since pretty much no one even notices this vehicle anymore. Not only is it rare to see on the road, it's a bit vanilla compared to racier offerings like the Cadillac Escalade, but that's apples to oranges since the Land Cruiser will trounce its competitors in the off-road skill set. But everything got subtlely reworked, and the design is cohesive and attractive (though not headturning). Toyota won't ever make the Land Cruiser push the styling envelope, but that's not what its customers care about, anyway. For the 2016 model year, Toyota decided to get really crazy and update the Land Cruiser with a revised front fascia, front fenders, and lighting elements, making it look fresh—from the windshield forward, at least. It also swapped out the six-speed automatic for an eight-speed unit and brought the electro-wizardry up to date again. Change may come slowly to the Land Cruiser, but the king of the off-road mountain can’t stand pat while others innovate.

Front: The new fascia gets ample chrome surrounding the grille, foglight surrounds and a bisecting bar through the light clusters. It's a good look that gives the Land Cruiser more presence.

Rear: Tall and Lexus-like, the big chrome bar adds width, but the huge bumper that turns up at each end seems obtrusive.

Profile: A clean look that doesn't deviate much from traditional SUV shapes, and it looks surprisingly less bloated Toyota's other big ute, the Sequoia.

Cabin: We've never been big fans of Toyota interior design, but this is the best. The materials quality and layout are rich and handsome. We were surprised how much we liked it.

Comfort

8.3

 

For all its ruggedness, the Land Cruiser can spoil its owners and passengers, too. The interior is incredibly well-built and comfortable. We actually like the interior a bit better than the big Lexus LX brother since it's not trying to be swoopy, a styling theme that doesn't work well for squarish-SUVs. Everything in the Land Cruiser feels solid, except for the metal-like plastic audio knobs. The side-folding third row seats are cool but can't accommodate more than thin teenagers who are under six feet tall.

Front Seats: Cushy and comfy with decent bolstering. We would've like a bit more thigh support.

Rear Seats: Roomy for three people with a flat floor and those great headrest monitors.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): It's a very quiet ride with great sound insulation. Build quality is also fantastic with no rattles or creaks to speak of. We do like the sound of the V8, which doesn't get totally muffled.

Visibility: Good visibility and a good driving position. It's a tall vehicle, so the cameras are a necessity.

Climate: The system works very well with the climate control buttons well-placed and simple. Rear seat passengers were also comfortable with the quad-zone controls.

Safety

7.5

 

When you spend this much, you want to know you're going to be protected, and the Land Cruiser gets everything standard. We just didn't like the fact that the active cruise control didn't bring the beast to a complete stop in traffic, a serious oversight in our book. At least the rest of the safety set is very robust.

IIHS Rating: The 2017 Land Cruiser has not yet been crash tested by the IIHS.

Standard Tech: The Land Cruiser gets the full Monty of standard safety features including blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beams, radar-based active cruise control.

Optional Tech: None available.

Storage/Cargo

7

 

For something this huge, we expected a bit better in terms of storage cubbies, but we do understand at least some of the compromise. The small center stack door can hold phones, but other than the cupholders, there's not much room for small gear items that should be easily accessed. The cargo section is a bit compromised by the side-folding seats.

Storage Space: The center armrest is occluded by the cooling portion (not bad to have) for beverages. We would've preferred more accessible space for portable electronics, etc.

Cargo Room: The 16.1 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row isn't exactly capacious, but it's slightly more than the GMC Yukon (though less than the Ford Expedition). Because of the configuration, the space is a bit misshapen.

Fuel Economy

6

 

This isn't the vehicle you buy if you want to save on gas, but the trade-off is the off-road capabilities and luxury digs. We weren't disappointed by the gas mileage, though, since our expectations were pretty much met. We scored it above average because it met its EPA estimates without any trouble. It's quite good for something this big, frankly. Lighter, less capable crossovers get only a few mpgs better in some cases.

Observed: We saw 14.8 mpg from a week of combined suburban and highway driving.

Driving Factors: We drove the Land Cruiser fairly conservatively most of the time with some heavy-footedness to test the V8's abilities.

Audio

8.5

 

Another case where the top trim vehicle doesn't ask for more money for an audio upgrade makes us thankful. The JBL premium system was excellent with no distortion even at high volumes. The system sounded great, and we thoroughly enjoyed flawless music streaming and great satellite radio. We'd like to say that the system is more than worth it, but it's the only system you can get in the big Toyota, and that's a very good thing.



Final Thoughts

We for one are glad the Land Cruiser still exists. For most families, the Land Cruiser makes absolutely no sense since off-roading won't happen for them, pretty much at all. The Land Cruiser does luxury and body-on-frame ruggedness in equal measures, and it's a standout in a world of unibody 7-passenger SUVs. Were it not for the Land Cruiser's heft, we'd probably score it higher, but we still strongly recommend it for those who want toughness and posh comfort wrapped in a Sherman Tank-like build.

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