Is there a place for a leather-lined, go-anywhere SUV in this day and age? Of course there is! People are gobbling them up like crazy. How about one costing more than $85,000 that hasn’t been redesigned in a decade? Well, that’s the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser in a nut shell.
Although it hardly sells in vast numbers, this relic from another era isn’t going away any time soon. Despite its age, it’s still like few other SUVs. It’s immensely capable off-road, big enough for family duty, packed with safety and luxury features, and is renowned for impeccable reliability. Yes, it costs a lot and doesn’t have a luxury badge, but there’s a reason Land Cruisers are used from Iceland to Australia for the toughest off-road excursions. For those in-the-know, it’s worth the price.
Of course, if glacial volcano adventures, Outback excursions or closer-to-home journeys of similar intensity aren’t on your personal docket, the Land Cruiser is probably going to be overkill. All of that capability comes with serious trade-offs in fuel economy, handling and interior space. It’s honestly a bit of a chore to drive on-road, so unless you really intend to go off-road, it’s probably best to be honest with yourself and select a tool better-suited to the job.
What’s New for 2019?
The Land Cruiser is effectively unchanged for 2019.
What We Like
Go-anywhere off-road capability; beastly-yet-refined V8; strong towing capability; luxuries and technology galore; 8-passenger seating
What We Don’t
Poor fuel economy; cumbersome on-road handling; cramped third-row seat that takes up cargo space and reduces second-row comfort even when folded; so-so second-row space
Every Land Cruiser comes standard with full-time 4-wheel drive, an 8-speed automatic transmission and a 5.7-liter V8 cranking out 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. EPA-rated fuel economy stands at merely 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg in combined driving. That makes the Land Cruiser one of the least efficient vehicles on the market.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser is offered in only one fully loaded level that costs $86,310, including the destination charge. Standard features include 18-in alloy wheels, skid plates, a surround-view parking camera, a sunroof, automatic LED headlights, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, proximity entry and push-button start, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, 4-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated 8-way power front seats, driver memory functions, heated second-row seats, a 50/50-split third-row seat, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a 9-in touchscreen interface, a navigation system, Bluetooth, wireless smartphone charging and a 14-speaker JBL sound system with a CD player, HD Radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack. A rear-seat entertainment system with two 11.6-in displays, an HDMI input, wireless headphones and RCA jacks is an option.
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. Also standard are forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The standard Safety Connect telematics system offers automatic collision notification to ensure help is on the way in the event of an accident.
The Land Cruiser has not been crash tested by a third party.
Behind the Wheel
On the pavement, the Land Cruiser is an endearing brute. The throaty V8 certainly helps, as it’s pretty amazing how much get-up-and-go this SUV has. The Cruiser’s enormous dimensions and hefty weight are readily apparent from behind the wheel, though, and you’ll constantly be reminded of them when taking a corner or trying to park. But at least you feel completely invulnerable perched high in the cabin, like you’re on a personal suburban safari. Its off-road performance is excellent thanks to sky-high ground clearance, low-range gearing, a locking center differential and a number of driving aids.
You can choose among numerous terrain modes and five different crawl speeds, while the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System can disengage the front and rear stabilizer bars to allow for maximum wheel articulation.
The Land Cruiser’s front seats are plush and expansive, and they’re mounted high to promote outward visibility. Dashboard materials are mostly upscale, though they don’t have the premium feel of the more expensive Land Rover Range Rover or the Land Cruiser’s mechanical twin, the Lexus LX 570. The second-row bench reclines to an almost hilarious degree, but only when the third row isn’t folded up (more on that below). The bench is also rather low relative to the front seats, so you may not have an ideal amount of under-leg support.
The third row is also a 3-person bench, making the Land Cruiser a rare 8-passenger vehicle, but the person in the middle is sitting on the "crack," so to speak. None of those in the back will have much in the way of space, however, and access is awkward. Plus, the seats themselves don’t fold away into the floor — they flip sideways, meaning they take up considerable space when not in use and limit the second row’s recline.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 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.
2019 Lexus LX 570 — The LX 570 is the Land Cruiser’s mechanical twin. Although you probably already know whether you’d prefer the Toyota or the Lexus based on their styling and image, the LX 570 is still worth mentioning, since it offers almost the same package as the Land Cruiser.
2019 Lincoln Navigator — The Navigator should be considered by those who are just looking for a big, luxurious SUV with ample towing capacity. It isn’t one for going off-road, but its unmatched cabin space, snazzy styling and 450-hp engine help make the new Navigator a standout.
Used Toyota Land Cruiser or Lexus LX 570 — Since these twins have gone so long without a full redesign, a used one won’t be that much different from a new one and Toyota/Lexus reliability means that they shouldn’t be too much of a bother.
Since there are no options, the Land Cruiser makes our job easy. We absolutely recommend this vehicle, especially after the wealth of updates added two years ago.