The longest running nameplate in the Toyota portfolio, the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is the latest in a 65-year legacy that stretches back to the original Toyota BJ and FJ models of 1951. Now the halo vehicle of the Toyota large SUV fleet, it is a no-option example of Toyota technology and innovation. A lot can happen in 65 years.
Start it up
Just as the FJs before them, The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is a large body on chassis SUV offering plenty of off-road capabilities and pluck to make sure a driver, and up to seven of his passengers, are able to get where they want when they want with a minimum amount of fuss. To that end the Land Cruiser is offered in all but six markets around the world, powered by engines that favor a particular region. European models are available with Diesel, while gas engines of varying sizes fill the bill in that and most other areas.
In the case of North America, this big daddy is equipped with a singular 5.7-liter V8 engine making 381-horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. All that power reaches the drivetrain through a new eight-speed automatic transmission that replaces the previous six-speed slushbox and offers sport-shifting modes as required. Towing capacity for the nearly three-ton (5,815-pounds) vehicle is up to 8,100-pounds.
That eight-speed gearbox sends the power to full-time all-wheel-drive with A-Trac and a Torsen locking limited slip differential. The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System allows the anti-sway bars to disengage for extra suspension articulation to handle the most difficult of off-road situations. Finally, the Land Cruiser is equipped with Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select System with Hill Assist, and Crawl Control with off-road turn assist. What more could you possibly need? Not much, apparently, because Toyota has seen fit to include it with the price of admission to the vehicle.
New safety features are added to the 2016 model and include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a frontal collision avoidance system. From the entertainment side of the equation, Siri Eyes Free is included for hands-free operation of your iPhone, while Android users take advantage of a new Qi wireless phone charger. The rear seat now includes a dual-screen video entertainment system with RCA plug-in ports below the center console climate controls.
Other players in the segment include the GMC Yukon Denali, and its cousin, the Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz’s GL-Class, Land Rover’s LR4 and finally in a case of eating its own, its Lexus LX570. Of these, only the Land Rover and Lexus can match the Land Cruiser’s off-roading capabilities.
Inside and out.
Since its introduction in 2008, this J200 series of Land Cruiser has utilized essentially the same body each successive year. That has not changed. Refreshed for 2016, everything forward of the A-pillars is new, and we can thankfully say the so-called spindle grille of the high-zoot Lexus LX570 did not translate over to this anything but pedestrian Toyota cousin.
Inside, the Land Cruiser includes a well-sorted and constructed interior that, uh hmm, is showing its age. Sure, the seats are extremely comfortable, and there is plenty of high quality soft touch material throughout, but the sad reality is the interior is ready for a total makeover. The center console features a plethora of bright knobs and controls that look dated. “Attention Toyota, 1989 would like its chromework back.” It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, because Toyota designers could easily have gone across the hallway to their Lexus colleagues for a lesson in seeing how it’s done.
The 5.7-liter V8 with its 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque is plenty stout and displayed the ability to get itself into troubled terrain and then extract itself at the same time. We don’t know about its ability to ford a stream and couldn’t find any safe access to actually put it to that test. Back on terra firm, we were impressed by how quiet the ride quality was in this SUV, even while sporting 18-inch Dunlop AT GrandTrek tires.
Drive quality inspired confidence in the drivers, with little in the way of side wallow. We did feel that the tip-in was rather high and caused us to stand on the skinny pedal, especially when stepping off from a traffic light.
Off-roading is assisted by the presence of brake-based torque vectoring which pinches the binders on the inside rear tires, effectively causing the Land Cruiser to pivot around a turn. We would actually swear we felt the system working on regular asphalt. Or maybe that was the full time all-wheel-drive. Blind spot monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert worked like champs especially in around-town commuting.
The third row of the Land Cruiser is not typical of the style found in other SUVs. In the case of ours, the rear-most seatbacks fold forward and then the seat bottoms fold up to the side. The result is less width in the rear, but it still features a rather impressive cargo holding ability. Just remember though, if you need to haul 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood, this is not that car. Cargo capacity by the numbers shows 16.1-cubic feet behind the third row. Fold them up and it grows to 43.0 cubic feet. Fold the middle row and remove the rear seats entirely for a whopping 81.7-cubic feet.
As comfortable and tough as the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is, it still suffers from a few shortcomings including an unquenchable thirst for fuel. The EPA says it will get 13-city / 18-highway. We were lucky to hit the 15 mpg average for combined driving. But at the end of the day, the Land Cruiser is a real contender with a legendary legacy that continues to attract many fans.
2016 Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD SUV. Base MSRP Price: $83,825. As tested, $84,820.
Lauren Fix is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted automotive expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics, energy and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward. Follow Lauren on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram