For decades, the rock-solid, full-time four-wheel-drive Toyota Land Cruiser has been one of the most trusted tools around the world. With usage like this, a vehicle doesn’t need constant changes to keep up with the market. The unchanged 2019 Land Cruiser is in the 12th year of its current generation, its last update coming in 2016 with some styling changes, a new infotainment system, and 8-speed automatic.
If you want more style, there is the all-wheel-drive Lexus LX 570 with the same platform and powertrain, seating five passengers instead of eight.
The Land Cruiser is powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 making 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel the three-ton vehicle at an ample clip. It can tow up to 8,100 pounds.
With a curb weight of about 5,800 pounds, and a 25-gallon fuel tank, the Land Cruiser offers EPA-rated fuel economy of 13 mpg city, 18 highway, 15 combined.
The chassis is body-on-frame, like a truck, with an independent front suspension and solid rear axle. The suspension is a hydraulic system with massive sway bars, to keep the vehicle level in corners and deliver excellent wheel articulation over rough terrain.
The sophisticated four-wheel-drive system has modes for every surface you might imagine. It even uses the brakes to reduce the turning radius on tight trails.
In the cabin, the instrument panel is heavy with buttons, the infotainment screen is large, and the seats are upholstered with soft semi-aniline leather. The front seats are comfortable and the second row spacious, but the third row is only large enough for small children.
The Land Cruiser hasn’t been crash tested, but its bulk offers security. Not to mention its standard active safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and lane-departure warnings.
The lineup is simple: one Land Cruiser for $86,500. Standard equipment includes semi-aniline leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, a JBL sound system, seating for eight, a power moonroof, four-zone automatic climate control, navigation, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, keyless ignition, and a heated steering wheel.
There is only one option package. For $2,200, Toyota adds a pair of 11.6-inch screens and a DVD player with an HDMI input for the second row. The Land Cruiser lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The Land Cruiser has an amiable look that’s immediately familiar. Call it a throwback if you must, but it’s a good one to the days of authentic SUVs that didn’t subsist only on style. The front overhang is short and the bumper high, to provide a steep approach angle for climbing over obstacles. The removable running boards reveal 9.0 inches of ground clearance. The split tailgate drops down like an old-school station wagon.
Consistent with its no-nonsense nature, the Land Cruiser doesn’t try to show off with flashy big wheels. They are off-road-ready 18-inch alloys fitted with tires having tall sidewalls to absorb the bumps.
The Land Cruiser’s instrument panel is impressive enough, with many buttons and knobs and a big 9.0-inch touchscreen dominating the center stack, and the off-road controls on the center console. The screen is easy to use and features clear maps.
The impression is of less space than the Land Cruiser’s mass suggests. Toyota quotes cargo space at 16.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 43 cubic feet with the third row stowed, and 82 cubic feet with the second row folded forward.
There is ample room in the first two rows. The power-adjusting front seats are heated and cooled by an efficient system, while the second row is well-padded and easily fits three, with standard entertainment. Row three’s very smallâ€”and it’s standard equipment.
With 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet produced by the 5.7-liter V-8, the Land Cruiser accelerates quickly from a stop and effortlessly passes on a two-lane or moves into holes on the freeway. That’s saying something, given its bulk of nearly two tons.
The 8-speed automatic shifts well most of the time, but it’s programmed to upshift early in the name of fuel economy.
The big body is attached to a ladder frame. The solid rear axle and independent front suspension help with towing, but not much on curvy roads, where the Land Cruiser feels like the large SUV it is. The steering is light and the suspension soft. It has good grip with its standard tires.
Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System is under that soft ride, which is comfortable on the highway. The system uses huge anti-roll bars that disconnect automatically at lower speeds for more wheel travel on deeply rutted terrain, where the Land Cruiser feels more at home.
The number of electronic off-road modes is almost overwhelming, more than most buyers will fully utilize. One system uses traction control and ABS to keep the vehicle moving at a crawl, while another can brake individual wheels to pivot the big SUV and tighten its turning radius for narrow switchbacks.
If you need the ultimate family SUV and off-road vehicle, The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser might work for you. It has a powerful engine, a smooth transmission, soft leather seats, and a comfortable ride. It’s particularly well-suited to families with adventure in mind.