Review: 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser lets you safari in comfort

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The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser - there's still a bit of African adventure in this Cruiser(Credit: Aaron Turpen / Gizmag)

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The legendary Land Cruiser brings to mind visions of great adventures on the savannah, where lions roar in the evening and herds of water buffalo rumble by in the distance. The urbane looks of the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser seem well and truly at odds with that image, yet underneath the rough-and-ready capability of the LC of old is still there. This Toyota can race the rhino with any of its forebears. It will just look classier doing it.

The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser has only one trim level, stepping away from the usual Toyota multi-trim scheme, and opting for something more akin to what the upscale Lexus brand might do. The price tag for the Land Cruiser definitely puts it in contention for the Lexus nameplate, being just a few thousand shy of a well-outfitted Lexus LX 570 SUV. There is a lot of shared equipment under the bodywork. Those who know the "Baja Lexus" will recognize the third row's fold up-and-to-the-side setup and some of the switches and knobs on the dash. They'll also be familiar with the big V8 under the hood.

The beefy powerplant under the 2016 Land Cruiser's hood is a 5.7-liter eight-cylinder that outputs 371 horsepower (277 kW) and 401 pound-feet (544 Nm) of torque. New this year is the eight-speed automatic transmission that attaches to that engine in full-time four-wheel drive. The extra gearing did not improve fuel economy, however, which still stands at 15 mpg (16 l/100km) combined. This is calculated from an EPA-estimated 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway (18 and 13 l/100km).

Before anyone scoffs at that number, which is low mpg even for a truck, remember that the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is about capability, not economy. Standard equipment includes a locking center differential, five-speed crawl control, hill descent control, and a unique Off-Road Turn Assist system which applies brakes to the inner wheels on a turn to improve the turning radius off-track. The Land Cruiser also comes with Toyota's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) as standard. This electronically adjusts and separates the stabilizer bars for improved ride and better wheel reach off the road. It is, in our experience, one of the best factory-made systems of this type on the market. It is featured on the Toyota 4Runner Trail and select vehicles in the TRD Pro line.

In the interior, the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser's US$85,000 USD price tag gets you a host of features that would befit a luxury vehicle. Automatic LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, power-folding heated mirrors, a roof rack, running boards, and keyless entry/ignition are all there. So are technology features centered in the 9-inch touchscreen on the dash. Voice controls, Qi wireless device charging, and dual-screen rear seat entertainment are also standard. The second row is sliding and reclining with a 40/20/40 split. The infotainment in the Land Cruiser is Toyota's Entune system with its smartphone integrated app-based services. A 14-speaker JBL sound system is also standard. The 2016 Land Cruiser literally has no factory options beyond its paint color.

The very upscale cabin comfortably seats five with the third row seating two more when required. Those seats are really only meant for children, but expand the carrying capacity of the Land Cruiser to seven people in all. Cargo space is good, but not excellent thanks to those third row seats folding to the side, taking up room. With the third row stowed, the Land Cruiser has 43 cubic feet (1,218 liters) of cargo, which expands to almost 82 (2,322 liters) when the second row is folded. The two-piece tailgate is a nice ergonomic touch.

What we also like in this Land Cruiser is the multi-view camera system which allows the driver to select from various camera viewpoints (rear by default, front or either side by selection) for both on and off the road vision during maneuvers.

Out on the road and highway, the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is a smooth drive. Around town, its truck-based roots show with its wide turning radius and poor visibility, but the built-in cameras with multiple angles are a boon in tight parking lots and sometimes on narrow streets.

Off the road, though, is where the Land Cruiser really comes into its own. This is no typical soccer mom mobile and the LC capability of legend is quickly shown to still be there. In the snow, on uneven trails, and through drift and wash, the Land Cruiser never faltered as we piloted through the backcountry in South Eastern Wyoming.

There are few factory-made vehicles capable of the kind of off-pavement feats that a Land Cruiser can manage, so for those who need that kind of capability and sure-footed excellence, the legendary Land Cruiser still delivers in 2016 ... and in much more style and comfort than in years gone by.Product Page:
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