Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser Evolves Again, Too Much?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com