2019 Toyota Land Cruiser is a Meaty, Rugged, Powerful, and Fun to Drive SUV

There are but a few exceptional off-road SUVs and the Toyota Lan Cruiser is among that special group.
There are but a few exceptional off-road SUVs and the Toyota Lan Cruiser is among that special group.

Model: 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser

Wheelbase: 112.2 inches

Type: 4-Door SUV

Base price: $81,165

Price as tested: $88,280

Engine: 5.7-L V-8

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Suspension/front: Independent double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar

Suspension/rear: 4-link with coil springs, stabilizer bar and semi-floating axle

Cargo volume: 16.1 to 81.7 cubic feet

Wheels: 18-inch 5-spoke alloy

Tires: 18-inch P285/60R 18 116V

Tow capacity: 8,100 pounds

EPA/DOT fuel ratings: 13 MPG/city, 18 MPG/highway

Over the past 35-plus years we’ve had some fun and exciting drives in the Land Cruiser, Toyota’s longest-running nameplate dating back to 1951.

We’ve witnessed the transformation from a hard-to-drive truck to a classy, but still rugged, SUV. The interior of the Land Cruiser has become dramatically more stylish and techy over the years, but the exterior has retained a robust, albeit somewhat fashionable, appearance.

Two issues are prevalent with the single model Land Cruiser: 1) it’s highly capable off-road; 2) it’s expensive with an MSRP of just over $85,000.

The powerful 5.7-L DOHC 32-valve V-8 engine has Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). It creates 381 HP at 5,600 RPM, and 401 lb-ft. of torque at 3,600 RPM. That equates to one meaty powerplant that offers all the force required for hauling, towing, and serious off-roading.

With seats down, there is amazing cargo space on the Toyota Land Cruiser.
With seats down, there is amazing cargo space on the Toyota Land Cruiser.

The engine is paired with an Electronically Controlled automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) that has sequential shift mode (shift manually as desired based on what type of on- or off-road driving you’re doing), and uphill/downhill shift logic that adjusts throttle input and speed, again depending on where you’re taking the Land Cruiser. EPA fuel ratings with the beefy V-8 are 13 MPG/city and 18 MPG/highway. If a fair amount of off-roading is in the mix, expect mileage to be relatively low.

Part of the ruggedness of the Land Cruiser involves its unitized steel body frame and a heavy-duty suspension that includes a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS). The Toyota KDSS limits body lean while driving on-road, and when maneuvering off-road trails at lower speeds it softens the suspension to allow for more aggressive wheel articulation. That equates to better control on difficult terrain.

An independent double-wishbone front suspension with coil springs and a stabilizer bar is mated to a four-link rear suspension with coil springs, a stabilizer bar, and a semi-floating axle. This chassis is well designed for vigorous off-roading.

There is also a Torsen limited-slip center differential that automatically sends more power to the wheel or axle with the most traction, plus Crawl Control (CRAWL) with Off-road Turn Assist that automatically modulates throttle and brakes at five low speeds. And add to that the very usable Multi-terrain Select system that helps control wheel spin and brake lockup in five common off-road surfaces from rocks to mud and sand. The Multi-terrain Monitor in the cabin checks 360-degree off-road surroundings on a nine-inch navigation screen.

Combine the steel body, the KDSS, the Torsen differential, multi-terrain systems, skid plates, CRAWL, and a well-designed suspension system with a full-time 4-wheel-drive system with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and there is little wonder why off-roading in this beast is not only highly efficient but quite enjoyable.

The spacious interior of the Land Cruiser is certainly not what is used to be as there is seating for up to eight in three rows, front seats are heated and ventilated, the second row has a 40/20/40 split heated seat, and third row is a split 50/50 seat. The third row seats also fold flat and can fold away against the interior wall to create a flat floor surface. Basic cargo space is 16.1 cubic feet, but with third and second rows seats down, there is a whopping 81.7 cubic feet of storage capacity.

There is a leather-trimmed, power tilt/telescoping, and heated steering wheel; a four-zone climate control system; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; integrated rear view camera; LED accent lights; a power tilt/slide moonroof; and well-designed instrumentation to guide drivers in all functions of the Land Cruiser.

Likeable interior features for us were the 12 cup holders, multiple USB and 12-volt outlets, extensive storage areas; and a comprehensive Entune JBL Premium audio system with 14 speakers and amazing connectivity.

With the Toyota Safety Sense P system there is a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and automatic high beams. In addition, the Star Safety System includes Vehicle Stability Control, Multi-terrain four-wheel anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution, Smart Stop Technology, and more.

In addition, there are 10 airbags, Hill-Start Assist, front and rear parking assist, blind-spot monitoring, Trailer-Sway Control, and plentiful other safety/convenience features.

For those who want to use the Land Cruiser for towing, standard features include an integrated tow hitch receiver and wiring harness. Tow capacity is 8,100 pounds.

Not much has been overlooked on the Land Cruiser from a power liftgate to projector LED headlamps, mud guards to very usable integrated LED fog lamps. If hardcore off-roading is in your future, this is a player. Though it does have a great deal to offer, it is pricey.