Do a Google image search for “overland vehicle”, and you’ll likely see a few Toyota Land Cruisers without having to scroll down the page. So when I was given the opportunity to drive one from Denver to Steamboat Springs the day after a snow storm, I jumped at the chance. The test vehicle came with no options. That’s because they already come loaded to the gills with every piece of comfort, convenience, and off-road tech you can think of straight from the factory. The only add-ons you can get from the dealer are accessories such as floor mats, cargo nets, and wireless headphones, etc. You get the idea. That’s not to say these are a top value, mind you… the starting price is a hefty $83,825 before destination. Try getting another vehicle for that much money that comands less attention from the outside world. It won’t happen.
Rolling on 285/60 R18 Dunlop Grandtrek AT23 tires, the ‘Cruiser is as sure-footed as its reputation would have you believe. Descending from a snow-covered summit on US-40 near Rabbit Ear’s Pass would usually be a good way to get your heart rate up, but the vehicle handled it without any sign of slippage. Once the roads flattened out, the 5.7L V8 was mid-pack in terms of acceleration. There’s enough there to pass the tourists, but not enough to make you want to. Surprisingly, I averaged 17.6 mpg during my time with the SUV, which is decent for a vehicle of this size and stature. Speaking of stature, the Land Cruiser felt top heavy at times when it shouldn’t have, such as on straight stretches of road going 55 mph.
Inside, Toyota’s behemoth SUV gives you almost everything you’d expect in a vehicle in this class. Entune audio with 14 JBL speakers, four-zone automatic climate control, and two 11-inch screens mounted to the back of the front headrests connected to a DVD player for rear-seat passenger enjoyment are all standard. A heated steering wheel, heated and vented leather seats, and a chilled center console are what the front seat passengers have to look forward to. What seemed to be missing, though, was a good place to lay your cell phone or wallet. Toyota could take a play out of GM’s playbook and carve out a non-skid spot on top of the center console for just such items.
Land Cruisers of yore were not only among the best factory-produced overland vehicles on the market, they were cool. I suspect today’s version has gone too far upstream, lost too much of it’s sex appeal for most fans of the old ‘Cruisers. But for drivers who want to sneak by under the radar of local law enforcement while having a superbly luxurious vehicle that can tackle a multitude of surfaces, the Land Cruiser fits the bill. Just think of what you could get for nearly $85k… not just one vehicle, but two exceptional vehicles that, combined, could scratch almost every itch you can imagine. For those reasons, I give the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser a “Lease It!” rating on the TFL scale of:
- Buy It!
- Lease It!
- Rent It!
- … or Forget It!
I’d like to see the vehicle return to its roots… just conduct the aforementioned Google image search to see what I’m talking about.
2016 Toyota Land Cruiser
As-tested MSRP: $84,820 (incl. delivery)
Engine: 5.7L V8 DOHC
Power (hp): 381@5600
Torque (lb-ft): 401@3600
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA mpg: 13/18/15 (city/hwy/combined)
TFL-observed mpg: 17.6 combined
Drive: Full-time 4WD
Towing Capacity: 8100 lbs.
Ground Clearance: 8.9″
Curb Weight: 5,765 lbs
Seating Capacity: 8
Cargo Volume: 16.1 cu-ft (w/ seats up)
There will be a video of the Land Cruiser’s Ike Gauntlet performance soon. Until then, check out its run up Gold Mine Hill.