The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the iconic members of the SUV market. While others have surpassed it in features, fuel economy and performance, it is very likely the car that most people entertain buying. Go to any parking lot in the country. You're bound to see at least a few Land Cruisers in the rows. This can definitely can get confusing if you're looking for your own. But regardless of its pole position in the SUV market, the Land Cruiser knows what it does, and it does all of that very well. Not much has changed for the 2018 model, but perhaps, not that much needs to change. Is there more than the Land Cruiser could do? Sure. But does it manage to justify its price point and continue to remain competitive? Absolutely. If you've got a good thing going, why mess with it?
What's new for 2018?
The Toyota Land Cruiser really exemplifies the old saying that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." A 2016 makeover added the now signature prominent grille and sleek headlamps, and since then, they haven't felt the need to do much more in the looks department. Indeed, the Land Cruiser has been the go-to vehicle for far-flung places and war-torn countries for decades, so it's design and upgrades have in some sense seemed superfluous, as it really sells based on an unparalleled reputation for reliability under the harshest circumstances (not that these often apply to middle-class suburbia). It's not entirely perfect, however: the exterior mirrors now fold in when the car is locked, and the rear seat infotainment system no longer comes as standard but is available as a stand-alone upgrade. They have also replaced some of the outdated materials and added more Aluminum and Carbon-fiber to keep up with the times while maintaining a look that's defined the Land Cruiser for more than 50 years.
How's the interior?
Toyota may not immediately come to mind when you think of luxury, but the 2018 Land Cruiser certainly stands up well against other models, even if the interior quality is on the lower end of the large SUV market. Big buttons and knobs on the upright dash control all your off-road features and most of the other controls have been neatly integrated into the 9-inch infotainment touchscreen. As with most large SUVs, you can seat 8 in the three rows of standard leather seats, with great visibility up front in the heated and ventilated front. The driver even gets a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel and a ten-way power adjustable seat. The sliding, heated second row is roomy and employs the popular LATCH system to fold seats down. The Land Cruiser incorporates this more effectively than most, styling it up with a leather tether anchor. A slightly cramped third row is perfect for the children, although this row doesn't fold flat. Cargo space is big but no bigger than its competitors, with 16 cubic feet behind the third row, 43 cubic feet with the third row folded and 81 cubic feet with both back rows folded down.
What kind of safety features are available?
At nearly 84,000 dollars, the Land Cruiser doesn't come cheap, and you'd be right to expect a fair amount of safety features. Fortunately, Toyota delivers on safety in a big way. They offer more driver assists as standard than any other large SUV including pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking, multi-view camera, forward collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. Toyota also committed this year to include safety features like these as standard in their entire fleet, so while the Land Cruiser certainly enjoys a larger array than most of their models (with good reason), the general ethos of the company is to ensure that safety comes first. Remember, this is the car that aid workers and warlords alike agree upon, so there must be something to it.
How about the infotainment and tech?
Toyota has also pledged to stay at the cutting edge of technology, and with the Land Cruiser, they're definitely keeping up with the times. Standard models offer a 14-speaker JBL premium audio system, 9-inch touch-screen infotainment system, satellite, and HD radio, Entune app suite, Siri eyes free and Bluetooth connectivity. The Land Cruiser has so many options for charging your phone that you'll never be out of juice. You can choose either wireless phone charging, a USB port and even a 120-volt household power outlet. And still, it doesn't end there: navigation, push-button start, a moonroof and proximity key entry are all standard features.
But how does it actually perform?
Toyota has taken the hard work out of choosing an engine, by offering a single 5.7-liter V8 engine that puts out 381 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission, this AWD Land Cruiser is reportedly able to tow 8,100lbs, not including the 6,000lbs it already weighs. This all comes at a cost though: the Land Cruiser has one of the lowest fuel economies in its class, clocking 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. Despite its weight, the Land Cruiser has no trouble accelerating off the line, and the eight-speed transmission is quick and smooth. The ride is generally smooth and comfortable, and while the steering is a little soft, it holds well in the corners, despite its considerable girth. Off-Road is where it really shines if you are brave enough to take it off the highway. A multi-terrain select mode allows you to change the suspension to the reflect the terrain, and a crawl control will automatically maintain the throttle and the brakes at a low speed. The only real problem you'll have is finding somewhere big enough to take the Land Cruiser, and bringing some extra fuel along, just in case.