• 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser

Road Test: 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD

Flagship SUV Has Loyal Owners Worldwide

Pick a country and most likely there will be a Land Cruiser roaming its roads—paved and dirt. In 1951 when first introduced, the Land Cruiser was an open cockpit dirt-loving, rock-crawling, go anywhere Jeep-like rugged, basic vehicle. After nearly 70 years in production, with 60 of those on sale in the USA, (the longest-running Toyota model), the Land Cruiser still can climb most anything, but does it in grand style and comfort.

Big and wide and ready to go wherever you point it

What makes the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser owner so loyal? It can’t be its fuel economy or the cumbersome in-town road manners, which are both the antithesis of what makes a SUV so desirable in suburbia. No, it is the well-earned reputation as being a nearly bulletproof, eight-passenger, large vehicle that can go pretty much anywhere.

Drivetrain

The full-time four-wheel drive 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser is powered by a 5.7-liter, 32-valve double-overhead-cam V8 engine. Using 87 octane, the 381 horsepower and 401 pounds-feet of torque hits all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Torsen limited-slip differential automatically distributes torque 40:60 front-to-rear, when wheel slippage is noticed. For off-road driving, Toyota’s five-mode Multi-terrain Select system regulates wheel spin, as in sand or loose gravel, by automatically adjusting the engine throttle and brakes to improve traction. For even more aggressive off-roading, Crawl Control is designed for driving on difficult terrain at low speeds. It assists the driver by controlling acceleration and braking, allowing the driver to focus on steering.

Driving Experience: On the Road

Now, about that fuel economy. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the Land Cruiser will get 13 city/18 highway/15 combined miles per gallon. In 292 miles driving mostly on Southern California freeways, we averaged 14.9 mpg. Usually Clean Fleet Report can surpass the EPA estimates by driving easy and using the cruise control. In the case of the Land Cruiser, it just wasn’t possible no matter how hard we tried. Toyota makes up for the fuel gulping by giving the Land Cruiser a 24.6-gallon fuel tank, for a potential 440 miles of driving before filling up.

It’s a beast, but a beast with lots of versatile room inside

Measuring in at just over 16 feet in length, with a full gas tank and full load of passengers and their gear, the Land Cruiser weighs in at more than 6,000 pounds. Thus, the Land Cruiser is aptly named. The 0-60 mph time, which is important when entering a freeway, was a respectable 6.7 seconds. Tromping on the accelerator gets the torque and horsepower aligned pretty quickly, with the transmission smoothly going through the gears. But all that grunt and speed comes at a price, as I swear the fuel gauge needle was noticeably dropping.

Let’s concentrate on why most people will own a Land Cruiser: long road trips and driving occasionally on poor road conditions. The Land Cruiser is easy to drive, with a smooth ride that was unaffected by Southern California’s grooved concrete freeways. The steering was too light for our liking, so at freeway speeds on an undulating surface, there tended to be a side-to-side feel at times. That same light steering, around town or on curvy roads, disconnected the driver from the road and made for some interesting body roll sensations.

Clean Fleet Report’s Land Cruiser came with 18-inch alloy wheels that were shod with 285/60R Dunlop Grandtrek all-terrain tires. We didn’t take the Land Cruiser off-road, but by looking at the tires it seemed that if leaving paved roads was a common occurrence, then we’d recommend going to a more aggressive tire, with a knobby tread to seriously take on snow and mud. With skidplates protecting the radiator, suspension and fuel tank, the Land Cruiser is ready to get dirty.

Stopping comes from four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution. The stops were straight and consistent, but the brake pedal was soft.

Driving Experience: Exterior

Smoothed out, but basically unchanged

The current Land Cruiser exterior design dates to 2008, with the last minor updates in 2016. Make no mistake, the Land Cruiser is a big vehicle, with a body-on-frame construction that cuts an imposing figure driving down the road. As far as SUVs go, the design is basic and not at all trendy, which suits its loyal buyers just fine. Toyota has smoothed any sharp edges to get the Land Cruiser as aerodynamic as possible, but there is nothing head-turning about it.The wrap-around LED projector-beam head lights, divided by a large chrome grill, have automatic level controls and pop-up washers. From there, running boards, a chrome strip along the lower doors, roof rails, a small shark-fin antenna, an integrated spoiler over the lift gate, and a chrome strip connecting the LED tail lights make the Land Cruiser unadorned with cladding or excess chrome.

Driving Experience: Interior

The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser is only offered in one nearly fully equipped trim level. You can choose between two interior colors (and six exterior colors) plus there is an optional DVD rear seat entertainment system. If you can imagine an interior feature or treatment that should be on a car, then it is there. The Land Cruiser’s perforated leather trimmed seats can accommodate eight. The power 10-way adjustable driver seat, with memory and lumbar, and the eight-way power front passenger seat were heated and ventilated.

The second-row seats are also heated and can be folded, split and slid in any of the 40/20/20 configurations. The second-row passengers also get power ports, climate controls and a folding armrest with cup holders. The third-row seats fold outward. The first two rows offer good head and legroom, while the third row, with tight access, is only for children and seems to have been added for the “eight-passenger” claim.

A friendly, tech-filled place

The cockpit design is driver friendly and is pleasant to look at and operate. The gauges are in easy sight and the controls in easy reach. The TSS-P indicators (the Toyota Total Safety Sense system) showing the driver assist technologies of pre-collision, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and the dynamic radar cruise control are marked clearly.

Toyota’s Entune JBL audio system with its app suite, which includes voice command navigation, is part of the infotainment system. Viewed through a 9.0-inch high resolution touch-screen, the 14 speakers (with subwoofer and amplifier) deliver excellent sound for the SiriusXM/FM/CD/HDAM with MP3 playback capability. The AM/FM is a cache radio, which is a nice feature, and the SiriusXM service is included for 90 days. There is an auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology and hands-free phone capability. The large volume and channel wheels are very convenient as was the Qi wireless smartphone charger. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available.

The four-zone automatic climate control system has seven fan speeds and a whopping 28 air vents throughout the cabin. The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel contains audio, telephone and voice controls. The center console has a huge lower area, capable of swallowing-up pretty much anything you want to store away and is also a beverage cooler.

Safety

The Land Cruiser is well equipped with active and passive safety features including 10 air bags, collapsible steering column, rear view camera, blind spot monitor and pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. Also included for safety are front and rear parking assist sonar,  hill start assist, an anti-theft alarm, engine immobilizer and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Convenience

Plenty to see and do in back

Convenience features on the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser included a tilt and slide moonroof, power lift gate with a rear wiper, engine stop/start, reading lights front and rear, power windows, and door locks, folding heated power side mirrors with turn signals and rain sensing windshield wipers.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD has a MSRP of $84,765. Clean Fleet Report’s total price, including the $2,200 rear seat entertainment system, came to $86,985. Pricing excludes the $1,295 delivery and processing fee.

The 2019 Land Cruiser comes with these warranties:

Maintenance Plan                      Two years/25,000 miles

Bumper-to-Bumper                   Three years/36,000 miles

Powertrain                                Five years/60,000 miles

Roadside Assistance                  Two years/Unlimited miles

Observations: 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD

At first glance, the nearly ninety-thousand-dollar price tag for the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD causes a momentary pause. This moves the Land Cruiser into the luxury SUV category against the likes of BMW, Lincoln, Infiniti, Cadillac, and Lexus. To play in this luxury segment the Land Cruiser needs to be, well, a bit more luxurious. It most certainly should offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which can be found on cars costing tens-of-thousands less.

A lot to love–but maybe too much?

Staying in the Toyota family, take a look at the 2019 Lexus 570 that costs about $1,500 more, but has a far more luxurious interior and a better warranty. Oh, and there is that vaunted Lexus dealer experience that owners rave about.

If you are primarily looking for seven-passenger vehicles, take a look at the Toyota Highlander, that comes in both gasoline and hybrid versions. The Highlander seats up-to seven as does the Ford Explorer and Volkswagen Atlas. Another strong consideration should be the Chrysler Pacifica van, that also is offered in gasoline and plug-in hybrid variants. All of these get far better fuel economy than the Land Cruiser, offer the same seating and cost thousands less.

There obviously is a loyal owner group for the Land Cruiser. If you want on-road comfort and off-road capability for you and seven friends, then the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser may be right for you.

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Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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