The Toyota Land Cruiser is a landmark like that place in your hometown that’s always there when you come back, no matter how much the rest of the world has changed. While it’s gotten modern touches over the years it remains at its core what you always remembered.
Enter the 2017 Land Cruiser that just last year got a second facelift to its J200 architecture first seen almost 10 years ago. It has a brave new face, arguably the most handsome yet with a broad shouldered grille and headlights.
A new hood has a taller feel and deeper contours you most appreciate from behind the wheel. At the rear, new tail lights and chrome adorn the split opening rear gates. An upper hatch lets you in for small items, a lower gate opens down flat for large.
Inside it received an updated and more premium interior that is more akin to that you will find in the Lexus LX570, if not nearly identical. This means higher quality materials, more technology in line with the rest of Toyota’s offerings, and more standard amenities.
The Land Cruiser is a mono spec vehicle, meaning it comes only one way – no options. What it comes standard with won’t disappoint though. Semi-Aniline leather chairs are heated and ventilated up front, heated at the rear.
Your second row passengers will enjoy cushy seats that adjust and a standard dual screen theater system with several ways to play. There’s a third row though snug, and all seats can fold up for cargo carrying. They don’t however disappear into the floor flat like in modern crossovers.
Infotainment and center stack controls are all new. A larger touchscreen is accompanied by hard controls for some items and HVAC. There’s a knob for volume and tuning thankfully, but the crucial fan speed still requires a menu step into the touch screen.
There is a full 360-degree camera system that works quite well. The JBL sound is phenomenal to hear and thus no optional sound system is at all necessary.
Moving to what makes the Land Cruiser what it is, much has remained the same mechanically. Under the hood is the same 381 horsepower 5.7 liter DOHC V8 you’ll find in the Toyota Tundra pickup trucks. Here though it’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that gives better drivability than the old box.
Power comes on smooth and refined just like you’d expect in a Lexus LS sedan. The new transmission does provide more cogs between zero and cruising speed so there’s less of that resistance to move when you ask.
EPA estimates it will achieve 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined. In our week with it we averaged 16 mpg and that included a good deal of off-roading in the mountains.
And to that, one thing the Land Cruiser offers that almost nothing else on the market does is a robust transfer case and all-wheel drive apparatus. It’s all-wheel drive all the time, but has a driver selectable low range.
The power split is 40:60 but you can lock the center differential for better traction articulation in the rough. There you have a myriad of electronic aids to help with various traction surface scenarios and the crawl control.
The latter can be set to a specific speed and will control all aspects of your movement with braking and throttle up and down, over the slipperiest of surfaces. You do of course need to steer.
For suspension articulation, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System can automatically loosen up the anti-roll bars front and rear to allow the wheels to move more freely up and down such as in moguls or deep ruts to keep them planted.
In our off-roading we of course found the Land Cruiser as in the past, one of the most capable and versatile devices known to man in spite of its silk purse price and image. It’s not just for the mall or country club, it can get dirty and it likes it.
And that gets us to the rub. As tested, the Land Cruiser comes in at $85,420 including destination charges from Japan where it’s assembled. That’s noted because the quality level here is as expected, the reliability record flawless.
When you look at competitors from Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and perhaps Audi you may well find capability, luxury and features equivalent. I’d dare you to find for the same price or even more all of this with the combination of bulletproof long term operational behavior.
That is why the 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser gets its place on our TestDrivenTV “Id Buy It” list.