Pros: Beastly yet refined V8; capable in the dirt; luxuries and technology galore; eight-passenger seating
Cons: Imposing size; poor fuel economy; so-so comfort for rear passengers
What's New: Sturdier exterior styling, a revised interior, a hard-drive-based navigation system, Entune mobile-app integration, and a bunch of standard features that used to be optional, including a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. It's also significantly more expensive.
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser shows just how far this iconic SUV has come since it rose to prominence as the two-door FJ40 Land Cruiser more than 50 years ago. That old Cruiser was a purely utilitarian vehicle, a Japanese Jeep Wrangler of sorts. But in recent years, the Land Cruiser has morphed into a four-door luxury SUV with automatic everything, hard-drive-based navigation, a rear entertainment system-the whole nine yards.
While the spirit of the old FJ40 lives on in the retro-cool FJ Cruiser, the 2013 Land Cruiser is basically the Japanese Range Rover-an opulent people carrier clinging to its storied off-road legacy.
So is there a place for a V8-motivated, leather-lined trail-busting SUV in this day and age? One that costs nearly $80,000? For a handful of discerning customers each year, the answer is, "Of course." It's empowering to know that your vehicle could handle virtually any terrain in the world if it had to, and the Land Cruiser has the added appeal of being quiet, comfortable and surprisingly swift on the pavement. Throw in standard three-row seating and tastefully restrained styling, and it's easy to see why the modern Land Cruiser is as impressive in its own way as those legendary Land Cruisers of yore.
Comfort & Utility
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser is offered in one very well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, power leather-trimmed front seats, four-zone automatic climate control with separate second-row controls, JBL premium audio and a rear-view camera. There's also a hard-drive-based touchscreen navigation system with the smartphone-based Entune interface, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and connectivity for iPod/USB and Bluetooth devices. Every Land Cruiser comes fully loaded, so there are no factory options.
The Land Cruiser's front seats are plush and expansive, and they're mounted high to promote outward visibility. Dashboard materials are mostly upscale, although they don't quite have the premium feel that you get with the more expensive Range Rover. The second-row bench slides and reclines, and it even has its own seat heaters. Although the bench itself is rather low relative to the front chairs, there's ample room to stretch your legs. The third row is also a three-person bench, making the Land Cruiser a rare eight-passenger vehicle. Access is awkward, and space is at a premium, so we wouldn't want adults to be stuck back there on longer trips-at least not adults we like very much. But the kids will love it, especially since there's a standard DVD entertainment system.
Cargo space measures 16.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 43.0 cubic feet with the third row folded and 81.7 cubic feet with the second row stowed as well. That's not a huge amount in relative terms-the mid-size Toyota Highlander, for example, has a maximum of about 95 cubic feet-but it's a big box to carry stuff in nonetheless.
The Land Cruiser comes with pretty much every high-tech gadget in Toyota's arsenal, but the centerpiece is clearly the hard-drive-based navigation system with Entune, which uses your compatible smartphone to power a touchscreen interface with handy mobile apps like Pandora Internet radio and OpenTable dining services. The touchscreen can also play DVDs when the Land Cruiser is parked. Under way, of course, the standard rear DVD entertainment system remains fully functional. Other notable features include live weather and traffic information, a voice command system with an advanced conversational algorithm and iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
Performance & Fuel Economy
The full-time four-wheel-drive Land Cruiser is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 that cranks out 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a six-speed automatic. Although the Cruiser weighs close to three tons, the V8 provides effortless acceleration, and it's one of the most refined large engines on the market. Fuel economy is an expectedly dismal 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway. On the bright side, you can tow a trucklike 8,500 pounds if you want.
The Land Cruiser comes with standard stability control and 10 airbags, including seat-mounted side airbags for the first two rows and full-length side curtain airbags. The front seats also have active head restraints. The standard Safety Connect telematics system offers automatic collision notification to ensure help is on the way in the event of an accident.
The 2013 Land Cruiser has not been crash tested by either the government or the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
On the pavement, the Land Cruiser is a brute, but kind of an endearing one. The throaty V8 certainly helps; it's pretty amazing how much get up and go this SUV has. The Cruiser's enormous dimensions are readily apparent from behind the wheel, but you feel completely invulnerable up there, like you're on a personal suburban safari. Road noise is appropriately subdued for a high-end luxury vehicle. Off-road performance is excellent thanks to good ground clearance, low-range gearing, a locking center differential and a slew of driving aids.
You can choose among numerous terrain modes and five different crawl speeds, while the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) can disengage the front and rear stabilizer bars to allow for maximum wheel articulation.
Other Cars to Consider
Infiniti QX56 - The recently redesigned three-row QX has more expressive styling and comparable V8 power, plus a very nice interior. Definitely drive this one if you're serious about the Land Cruiser.
Land Rover Range Rover - Still the king of luxury SUVs, the Range Rover costs more, but it features an available supercharged V8 and one of the finest cabins at any price. There's no third-row seat, however.
Cadillac Escalade - If you don't need the Toyota's off-road ability and want the ultimate in bling, the truck-based Escalade delivers. It's not the most gratifying luxury SUV to drive, but it has an image like no other.
Since there are no options, the Land Cruiser makes our job easy. We absolutely recommend this vehicle, especially after its properly tough styling tweaks for 2013.