Mischief Driven: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

 

Words by: Bogdan Poplacean
Photography by: Mark Scire II

I’m sitting in my favorite armchair. It’s a sort of smoking chair with large, dark, thick leather cushions. There is a heavy, early 20th century style to this chair, something which you would more likely see in a cigar smoking lounge with dark wood paneling and Tiffany lamps. The Toyota Land Cruiser is a lot like this chair. It has been around for what is an automotive eternity, and has driven all over the world, including into the Jungles of South America. While this 2016 model is a far departure from the canvas roof versions of the 1950’s, there is no mistaking the lineage of this model. Toyota has given the Land Cruiser a series of updates and improvements for the 2016 re-design including an 8-speed transmission, LED headlights, styling updates and, many new safety features. At $83,825 it’s the most expensive and well-appointed Toyota you can currently purchase. The Land Cruiser is also one of the most reliable and off-road capable suv’s for sale.

Powertrain

Toyota powered this 5,800lb behemoth with a 5.7 liter V8, mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission. While 381 horsepower is adequate, it would do better at the 500hp level. The power delivery is smooth, and at times you even hear the faint growl of a V8 through the well-insulated cabin.

 

Interior

All of the usual accoutrements are present including heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel. Navigation, a nice JBL stereo loud enough to disturb your neighbors, and separate temperature controls for the back seat are present. Unfortunately, the back seat on long trips gets cramped with 3 average sized adults. There is a 3rd row seat that splits and folds out of the way, that is best left for the 12 and under crowd since it’s short on space for “adults.” A pleasant-smelling leather interior, wood accents, and buttons make up the Land Cruiser’s interior.

 

Features

Buttons, lots of buttons to press, many that have letters that mean something, and do stuff.  I wish I could tell you more about all the buttons, but on the long hours of our road trip, we spent more time trying to avoid the constant warnings from the lane departure system. A function that was difficult to get used to was accessing the fan speed through the main nav/radio/climate control screen. The automatic climate control works well, but we wished for an easier to access layout. On the drive, we found ourselves wanting for more power outlets, however we also carry around more battery-powered items than most people. Most importantly, the 4wd system works extremely well. It snowed for part of our trip, and even on an icy parking lot, it was a challenge to induce a prolonged slide.

 

Exterior

There’s nothing shocking or off-putting about the outside. We liked the subtle chrome accents around the outside, and appreciated the bold statement the large front grille makes.

 

 

Driving impressions

It’s a pleasant truck to drive, but never mistaken for a sports car. Toyota has added a feature called KDSS. The sway bars are aided by computers, and make this top-heavy body on frame truck handle tighter corners and crosswinds with much more confidence than previous models. Despite the large size, added front, side, and rear view cameras make it easy to see around the bumpers. Highway manners are sedate, and the Land Cruiser never feels unstable or high-centered.

 

Positives:

-Toyota reliability

-One of the most capable 4wd systems available

-Smooth ride, even fully laden

-Excellent outward visibility; LED headlights perform flawlessly

-Many cameras around the car help confidence in maneuvering

 

Negatives:

-Could use more power

-No remote start

-Same key fob as a Prius

-Rear seat room is lacking leg room if over 5’8” tall

-User interface with entertainment, navigation, and climate control is outdated and lags at times

 

Stay tuned for our video review of the Toyota Land Cruiser that will be released soon!