It's obvious that Land Cruiser is in the same family as 4Runner and Sequoia. The three vehicles share the same general lines and some similar trim treatments. Land Cruiser is bigger and more mature than 4Runner, more athletic and elegant than Sequoia. Muscular, flared fenders are Land Cruiser's most recognizable feature. A slightly square cabin lends a retro feel and FJ echo. Land Cruiser sits high and proud, with a very healthy 9.8" of ground clearance. Because of the wide track (63.6" front/63.8" rear), overall width (76.4"), length (192.5") and long wheel base (112.2"), it doesn't look tippy or unbalanced despite its 73.2" height. Land Cruiser is a big vehicle, but manages to look impressive without looking ungainly -- wish I could manage the same.
Fit and finish for the Japan-built Land Cruiser are at a very high level, even by Toyota standards.
In the Driver's Seat
The dash is classic Toyota -- just the facts, ma'am. Analog gauges with big white on black numbers and red needles make readouts simple. The center stack is straightforward and fuss-free.
My test vehicle was loaded -- Navigating the Kalahari would probably be much easier with the optional ($3,350) EMV nav system in Land Cruiser. The system includes a big color screen that doubles as the monitor for a rear view camera -- a good idea in a vehicle this big.
The big center console between the seats carries more than the usual share of controls and switches, including the gear selector, drive mode selector, seat heat switches and dials and switches for the optional ($1,620) Adaptive Variable Suspension setup. The layout is a little random, and is the only place that the Land Cruiser verges on clutter.
On the Road
Land Cruiser's 4.7 liter V8 engine does a good job of motivating the 5425 lb beast, with 275 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque on tap. Full-time four-wheel drive is at work with a locking center differential, a must for serious offroad work. The torque will really help, too.
Land Cruiser's standard suspension setup is double-wishbone independent in front, four-link coil spring in the rear. The Variable suspension setup in my test vehicle included settings to adjust stiffness from "Comfort" to "Sport," along with automatic load leveling and adjustable height control. For day-to-day driving on good roads, Land Cruiser can hunker down closer to the ground and improve the smoothness of your ride. A great feature, worth the extra $1,620 for the luxury feel.
On the safety side, standard ABS-controlled four-wheel ventilated discs work great. Dual stage front airbags are standard; curtain and side airbags are a $650 option. Check that box on the order sheet.
If you're looking for luxury and offroad ability, HUMMER's H2 is a serious contender. It has a better approach and departure angle than Land Cruiser, and can be loaded down with extras to pamper you on the incline. GMC's Yukon Denali is a powerful, luxurious vehicle, and delivers more power than Land Cruiser, though it might come up short when the pavement ends. VW's Touareg, Porsche's Cayenne, and Mercedes' GL 450 are all worth considering, though only the Merc will match Land Cruiser's seating capacity. Don't overlook the pricier Range Rover, Infiniti QX56, and Land Cruiser's cousin, the Lexus LX 470, either -- each takes luxury one step beyond, while still retaining offroad ability.
For my Hatari! fantasies, though, there's no substitute for a Land Cruiser. Of course, my Hatari! fantasies involve an FJ40 painted like a zebra, and Elsa Martinelli with a big bag of photo equipment. 'Nuff said.