Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

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For decades, the Toyota Land Cruiser has left its mark on the off-road landscape while creating nostalgic memories of leading caravans across the Sahari desert, exploring the U.S. Southwest and being the type of vehicle Indiana Jones himself would drive. Yet, with changes in consumer attitudes and needs, the Land Cruiser, well, really is no more. Now it is a family-friendly SUV, albeit still quite off-road capable, more suited for a trip to the grocery store than the badlands.

Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

Another styling evolution comes to the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser and this time it is much more Lexus than Toyota.

Maybe I’m just being nostalgic and out-of-touch, but I think the Toyota Land Cruiser is a bit of a halo (iconic) vehicle for Toyota’s brand and like the now-defunct FJ Cruiser, it should keep many of the characteristics which made it what it is. For me, the latest generation of the Land Cruiser, well, isn’t a “Land Cruiser.” Instead, it is a near-luxury SUV filled with lots of goodies that my family appreciates.

Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

Looking at this 1978 FJ40 Land Cruiser compared to today’s version really showcases how much things have changed.

I can’t begrudge it on its many family-friendly features like the standard dual 10-inch rear seat DVD screens, built in cooler box, multiple USB ports, reclining seat row seats, etc. (basically add in every possible feature you can think of). All of this interior is bathed in luxury with leather seats throughout and soft-touch materials at every turn. This interior straddles the fence between being a Toyota or Lexus product and it would be fun game to blindfold consumers to see if they can tell a difference.

Remove the Toyota badge and this cabin could pass for Lexus SUV.

Remove the Toyota badge and this cabin could pass for Lexus SUV.

Take this near-luxury interior and equip the SUV with every Toyota off-road technology you can think of like CRAWL control, Active Traction Control, Multi-Terrain Select, TORSEN® limited-slip locking center differential, full-time 4wd, etc… and you have quite literally a 4Runner on steroids. Combined with Toyota’s V8 engine, 18″ off-road tires and approach/departure angles of 30 degrees and 20 degrees respectively, it is an off-road beast.

Getting work done with the Land Cruiser.

Getting work done with the Land Cruiser.

On the road, the Land Cruiser is large and in charge. Nimble simply isn’t in its vocabulary. Honestly, I find it a bit difficult to drive and a bit unwieldy driving around town. The various off-road gear don’t always work together with the family, friendly SUV appearance and you are often reminded by how it handles, it is more than a say a Highlander.  Nor is it say a 4Runner with its bulk throwing you off. This isn’t to say I don’t like it. I just find it driving it is more about “navigating” than “driving.”

What is New For 2016?

With all these features, how could Toyota possibly build on it? In an interesting few ways.

Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

The new 10-inch dual DVD screens stand out in many ways.

For starters, the 10-inch dual screens are new and stand out away from the headrest rather than being smaller and built-in. This gives it a better viewing angle and is a big improvement in screen size.

Next, Toyota gave it Safety Sense P with Pre-Collision System, Frontal Collision Avoidance and Pedestrian Protection. Plus, it now comes equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Qi wireless charging and a new 9-inch display with built-in Siri eyes free mode.

Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

With slightly better acceleration thanks to a new 8-speed transmission, the Land Cruiser is basically the same.

The big change though is in the 8-speed transmission – a Toyota first. If you have been following this site, you know we have talked about this transmission before. Interestingly to us, Toyota decided to set this transmission up to provide better acceleration especially when towing the maximum 8,100 lbs. The 2016 Land Cruiser returns the same fuel economy of the previous model at a less than stellar 13/18/15 city/highway/combined with the 8-speed transmission (in other words, nearly the same as the 5.7L V8, 6-speed Tundra). While critics slam those MPG numbers, even enthusiasts often will begrudge them, Toyota continues to avoid addressing this issue.

Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

A large rear profile matches the scale of the new Land Cruiser.

While these improvements will continue to bring in customers – this SUV is really big in Arab countries by the way along with its now nearly identical Lexus LX570 cousin- I still lust after the Land Cruiser of yesteryear. Maybe I’m alone in that, but I’m OK with that.

One More Adventure …

Before I wrap up this review, I should share a pretty great thing the Land Cruiser helped me with while I had it. Namely, it freed my 1963 International C1200 from a muddy mess I got it into.

Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

The pictures don’t really do the size of the muddy quagmire justice.

I got the International stuck when trying to get it into the garage on a rainy, at times snowing, warmish Spring day. The type of day where you want to do something outside, but it is so wet and slightly cold, you just can’t. Well, I did. I wanted to get the International in the garage and work on the doors to make something productive of the day. Little did I realize, the ground under the truck had turned into a sloppy mess since it is just dirt. The snow wasn’t able to get underneath the truck to cool off the ground and instead, the dirt turned straight to mud. As soon as I stepped on the gas, the rather poor tires on the International sank down into the mud. Further attempts with 4wd engaged created even deeper ruts.

Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?

A tow rope and the power of the Land Cruiser were all that was needed to rescue the International.

Enter the V8 power of the Land Cruiser which hooked to a tow rope, quickly made small work of getting the International out of its muddy pit. It felt a bit awkward climbing into the cab of the Land Cruiser with my muddy boots on, but hey, it is an off-road SUV right?

In the end, it was a simple job for the Land Cruiser and I was satisfied to get the International out and I eventually got the doors repaired.

Model: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

Engine: 5.7L V8

Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic

HP/Torque: 381 HP/401 lb-ft.

Fuel Economy: 13/15/18

Price as Tested: $84,820 with $995 delivery fee

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  1. Randy says:


    Can you make a direct comparison on the seats vs. those in both the Tundra 1794 and Tundra Limited?

    The same, better, worse?

    Long term comfort, support, etc.



    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I’m not sure I can make a direct comparison since there has been quite a gap between the last time I drove a 1794 or Limited Tundra. My assumption would be they would be pretty similar since Toyota uses the same third-party supplier for both. Also, the higher-grade Tundra trucks use leather and design from Lexus products and the price point of the Land Cruiser puts it on the same level as the Lexus.


    • hemi lol says:

      I have recently delivered 3 2016 land cruisers so I spent I little time behind the wheel and I have a 15 Platinum. Land Cruiser seats are a bit narrower but feel probably slightly more plush as they aren’t designed for the abuse the Tundra seats are….. the suspension is different to get used to but on the highway when you go over humps etc there is no comparison you cant even feel them in the Crusher at all….. and the 8 speed is on point! heres to hoping it shows up in the Tundra soon.

  2. NoQDRTundra says:

    I agree, I like the Land Cruiser of yester-year. My favorite series is the 80, the last generation with the solid front axle (it was clear this was an off-roader but had some nice amenities). This vehicle is what turned me on to Toyota.

    Now the current Land Cruiser is so luxurious it’s hard to see the off road heritage is was born from.

    The Range Rover took the same path as well.

  3. GoBig says:

    The only thing Land Cruiser about this vehicle is the name plate. Toyota left the L/C roots in the dust a long time ago.

    I owned a 1975 Land Cruiser, and the closest Toyota has come is the now discontinued FJ Cruiser.

    Does anyone seriously spend $75,000 on a vehicle to take off road?

  4. TakeNotes says:

    I like the vehicle, but this review is poorly-written drivel in bad need of an editor.

    • Captain Critical 101 says:

      Then why don’t you write a review?

    • TakeNotes says:

      The writer makes some valid points and good observations about the Landcruiser, but there is an overall lack of cohesion to the article that makes it hard to read. It feels more like some notes and thoughts cobbled together than a well researched and planned out article.

  5. suraj pawar says:

    Quickly made small work of getting the International out of its muddy pit, that’s great.

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