The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser (Base MSRP: $69,120) is a large SUV with a good pedigree; the nameplate has been produced worldwide for more than 50 years, and carries the reputation as an ultra-reliable SUV that can handle serious off-road duty. In its more recent iterations, it also has admirable ride comfort on typical roads and a high-quality interior. What's the catch, you ask? The Toyota Land Cruiser has the highest base price of any non-luxury branded SUV, at $69,120. Largely due to the price, reviewers consider other top-performing large SUVs to be better values. A number of models from luxury brands are cheaper.
The Land Cruiser is a true off-roader; four-wheel drive with a center Torsen differential and dual-speed transfer case is standard equipment, as are other off-road oriented features. Hill-start assist control and crawl control are also standard, allowing advanced electronics to handle tricky off-road situations. Autoblog.com performed a true off-road test of the 2008 Land Cruiser (nearly identical to the current 2011 model year) and found that the entire setup "got the Land Cruiser out of every tender position we put it in." Autoblog.com said that to get out of nearly any sticky off-road situation "all you need to do is stay aliveÉand steer." The lower running boards and on-road tires were the weakest points when it came to off-roading.
Almost all shoppers in the market for a nearly $70,000 SUV will keep to paved roads where they can enjoy the 5.7-liter V8 engine that makes 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Cars.com describes the engine as delivering "fluid, sprightly acceleration at just about any speed," courtesy of all that power and the smooth six-speed automatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Land Cruiser will achieve a woeful 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined fuel economy, but that's a common trade-off with large SUVs in general. The Land Cruiser can tow up to 8,500 pounds in stock form.
Ride quality is calm and composed. The Land Cruiser "smoothes out the road as well as a massively capable, body-on-frame truck can," according to a Motor Trend reviewer. About.com elaborates in explaining that the Land Cruiser "soaks up the bumps and potholes with ease, and remains supremely composed during cornering thanks to stabilizer bars front and rear." (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.) Reviewers appreciate the Land Cruiser's powerful brakes, which bring it to a halt with no drama.
The interior is composed of high-quality materials, though maximum cargo capacity and third-row comfort trail some rivals. Edmunds.com says that "the 2011 Land Cruiser's interior is as refined as a Toyota gets, with high-quality materials and excellent fit and finish." Another reviewer finds that the interior materials emphasize ruggedness over feel, but that's arguably appropriate for a large SUV that specializes in off-road applications. Still the Land Cruiser can be optioned with luxuries like a DVD entertainment system, voice-activated GPS navigation, a JBL stereo with 14 speakers and a subwoofer, and Bluetooth connectivity. Otherwise, most features are standard on the Land Cruiser. It seems a bit ridiculous that Bluetooth, ubiquitous even in low-budget economy cars, is still only available as part of a pricey option package.
When it comes to third-row seating, "entry is a jungle-gym climb, and once you arrive -- typical of SUVs with rigid rear axles -- the cushion is barely off the floor," according to Car and Driver. The maximum cargo capacity of 81.7 cubic feet is unimpressive compared to other large SUVs. To achieve maximum cargo capacity, the second- and third-row seats must be moved out of the way; the third-row seat doesn't fold flat though -- it splits in half and each side folds up against the interior walls of the vehicle, eating into available cargo space.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway safety have crash tested the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser. It does come with plenty of standard safety equipment such as front knee airbags, front airbags, front-seat side airbags, full-length curtain airbags for all seating rows, active head restraints, electronic stability control, traction control and antilock brakes with brake assist. An optional pre-collision warning system detects and prepares for imminent impacts.
The Land Cruiser has a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and carries a reputation for stellar reliability. A long-term test performed by Car and Driver confirmed that it was "not only drop-dead reliable, [but] was also inexpensive to maintain."
As Edmunds.com summarizes, the Land Cruiser has "a nearly unbeatable combination of off-road capability and on-road comfort." If you don't need the serious off-road potential, however, there are other large SUVs that provide big towing, seating for eight and more cargo capacity at a much lower price point, including the 2012 Toyota Sequoia (Base MSRP: $40,930 to $61,805) you'll find on the same showroom floor. If price is no object, the even more expensive 2011 Lexus LX 570 (Base MSRP: $79,455) is based on the Land Cruiser but comes with even more standard equipment.
Note that there is no 2012 model year for the Land Cruiser. It's been skipped over entirely. An extensively updated Land Cruiser arrives in summer 2012 badged as a 2013 model.
The editors of Edmunds.com consider the 2011 Land Cruiser to have a "nearly unbeatable combination of off-road capability and on-road comfort," though they note the hefty price tag is something to consider. Even though it's a heavy vehicle, Edmunds.com editors find that it feels "surprisingly confident" in the corners.
Review: 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, Editors of Edmunds.com, Dec. 8, 2009
ConsumerReports.org has purchased and reviewed the Toyota Land Cruiser, covering both track and real-world testing and factoring in reliability data collected in annual reader surveys. A subscription is necessary to view reviews and articles on ConsumerReports.org.
Review: Toyota Land Cruiser, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
ConsumerGuide.com editors say the Land Cruiser is a top-notch vehicle, but they don't give it their Best Buy recommendation because of its high price, which makes it a viable option only for "high-rolling off-roaders."
Review: 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser: Road Test, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com, Not Dated
FuelEconomy.gov provides official fuel-efficiency ratings for all new vehicles. The 2012 Toyota Land Cruiser gets an estimated 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined. This isn't good fuel economy relative to most cars, but this is average among large SUVs.
Review: 2012 Sport Utility Vehicles, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, Not Dated
5. Motor Trend
Reviewer Benson Kong takes a ride in the 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser, which is virtually identical to the 2011 model year. He finds the Land Cruiser to be an impressive vehicle overall, especially when it comes to off-road capability and features.
Review: First Drive: 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser, Benson Kong, April 15, 2011
6. Kelley Blue Book
Kelley Blue Book is known for its automotive valuation business, but it also provides reviews and research on many new cars. Their vehicle tests tend to avoid saying negative things and expressing strong opinions.
Review: 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser, Editors of Kelley Blue Book, Not Dated
7. Automobile Magazine
Automobile Magazine had a 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser in its long-term test fleet in 2009, and long-term tests often have the best insights into how it is to live with a vehicle on a regular basis. The 2008 model year isn't substantially different than the current model. Editors say that the SUV handled towing and rough terrain exceptionally well, but that its steep price makes it a bit of an oddball when it comes to the rest of the large SUV market.
Review: Four Seasons Wrap Up: 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, Eric Tingwall, April 15, 2009
8. Automobile Magazine
This article on the upcoming 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser outlines the expected changes. There will be some significant packaging changes, changes to the interior and updates to the exterior.
Review: First Look: 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser, Erick Ayapana, Jan. 6, 2012
9. Car and Driver
This is a short review of the 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, which is largely the same as the current 2011 model year. The reviewer marvels at the engine's smoothness, but like others, he expresses concern over the steep as-tested price tag.
Review: Short Take Road Test: 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, Patrick Bedard, March 2008
Popular Mechanics tested a 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, which is unchanged from the 2011 model year. The four-wheel drive system is described as "one of the best systems we've ever encountered." The big standard options list and on-road civility are big plusses to this reviewer.
Review: 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser Test Drive: Bulletproof Ease, Ben Stewart, Sept. 17, 2007
Reviewer Jason Fogelson thoroughly enjoys the Land Cruiser, saying it's "nice to get a healthy dose of luxury with the [off-road] capability." He neglects to mention in his conclusion the price as a factor when comparing it against the competition. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: 2012 Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Fogelson, Not Dated
This Autoblog.com reviewer takes a look at the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser and is impressed by its off-road features (though he never takes it off-road, in this instance). The reviewer considers the Land Cruiser to be worth the high price if you desire the premium feel, reliability and off-road prowess.
Review: 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser, Michael Harley, June 30, 2011
This is a comparison test between the 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser and the no longer sold 2008 Hummer H2. It isn't the most useful comparison then, but the article does pay particular attention to describing the Land Cruiser's off-road capabilities. The 2008 Land Cruiser is essentially the same as the 2011 model year.
Review: Autoblog Comparo: Moving Mountains - Toyota Landcruiser vs. Hummer H2, Jonathon Ramsey, Oct. 15, 2008
Kelsey Mays reviews the 2008 Land Cruiser, which is virtually identical to the 2011 model. He concludes that the Land Cruiser consistently comes up short when compared to similarly priced luxury SUVs.
Review: 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser: Expert Reviews, Kelsey Mays, Nov. 20, 2008