Intrigued by the latest explosion of interest in classic SUVs, with costs surging on Sixties and Seventies Ford Broncos, Chevy Blazers, Jeep CJs and Land Rovers, I requested somebody at Toyota, “Do you still make a Land Cruiser?”
So overshadowed lately by the massively in style Vary Rovers, which now might change the Mercedes-Benz because the cliche “California Chevy,” this venerable veteran has slipped a bit below the radar. As sport utility vehicle sales climbed, Land Cruiser sales stagnated. The total number of those Toyotas sold within the U.S. dropped from a powerful 15,000 models in 2000 to a sorry 3,219 in 2018.
Toyota does, in fact, nonetheless make the Land Cruiser. With 2020 models arriving shortly in dealerships, I made a decision to borrow one for a few weeks to see if the legendary road warrior nonetheless lived as much as its legend.
The vehicle has a colourful history, stretching again to World War II, when the Japanese army captured an American Jeep within the Philippines and requested Toyota to repeat it. After the war, the U.S. Army requested Toyota to construct more of them for service within the Korean War.
In 1957, the FJ40 model — which nonetheless regarded lots like an Army brat — grew to become the primary vehicle Toyota offered within the U.S.
Over time, the Land Cruiser regarded much less and fewer like a Jeep and more and more like an English Land Rover. Sales had been regular, totaling more than 6 million models via 2018.
The early models had been tough and prepared, outfitted for service in troublesome off-road areas. Excellent for tenting or looking, constructed to bear multiple friends and bales of apparatus, the early models had been lengthy on functionality and quick on consolation.
The trendy Cruiser, together with the current model, is a giant, lumbering luxury SUV — virtually 7 feet tall, virtually 7 feet broad, a full 16 feet lengthy and weighing simply under 3 tons. It presents beneficiant space, good visibility and all of the comforts of home. The perch is high, sitting on 18-inch wheels that buy 8.9 inches of floor clearance and 27 inches of “fording depth.” The suspension is mushy, the journey is quiet and the road feels far, distant.
For some, this shall be a plus. For others, a minus.
On the freeway, skipping alongside on the maximum speed limit, I used to be happy by the silence and the slushy steering. However on city streets, and far more so on unpaved roads, I felt disconnected from the floor over which I used to be traveling, driving with out a lot really feel and with out a lot suggestions from the tires.
Toyota masses its Land Cruiser with substantial bells, whistles, safety technology and off-road instruments. Standard on the 2020 model — whose fundamentals haven’t modified from 2019 — are adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, automatic high beams and rain-sensing windshield wipers — plus trailer-sway control, as a result of this Cruiser is a toy hauler, too, with 8,100 kilos of towing capability.
Standard niceties embrace heated and ventilated entrance seats, local weather control for the rear seats, leather-based inside, a “cooler box” for chilling snacks and drinks within the center console, and a seat-back entertainment system that includes wi-fi headphones for the back-seat passengers.
Off-road accouterments embrace numerous four-wheel-drive settings, a useful “crawl” feature, which can do all of the gasoline and brake pedal work in difficult slow-speed conditions, and cameras that permit the driver to examine the entrance, side and rear panorama (with out leaving the cockpit) when the footing appears questionable.
Additionally standard is a full-size spare tire, slung under the rear of the vehicle — important for any severe off-road exploring.
All in, that’s how Toyota justifies charging $86,000 base for certainly one of these bad boys. At that worth, it’s parallel with the fancier Vary Rovers from England — and a far cry from the rugged Jeep-like jalopies that made the Cruiser’s repute.
Hoping to place the vehicle to more than a week-around-town test, I took a visit into the Angeles National Forest for an in a single day camp-out. Since we had been only two campers, we didn’t require more than two of the Cruiser’s seven available seats, or use a lot of the 81.7 cubic feet of storage space available when the rear seats are folded flat.
However we did use the off-road capabilities. After we arrived on the first campsite, after three miles of tough dust road, we discovered too many other campers for our style. Looking for solitude, we pressed on, and did one other three miles of a lot rougher road. We drove where many SUVs would worry to tread, and had the next campsite all to ourselves.
The massive Cruiser is offered with only one powertrain within the U.S. It’s a 5.7-liter V-8, linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission that makes 381 horsepower and a potent 401 pound-feet of torque.
To handle that power off the pavement, Toyota masses the Cruiser with full-time all-wheel drive, a locking differential, a hill begin help and really spectacular suspension.
That gave us all of the muscle we wanted to rock-crawl our way comfortably into camp. But it surely got here at a worth. Round town, this guzzler will get only 13 miles to the gallon. If Toyota can promote a Tacoma pickup truck that will get 18 miles to the gallon — nonetheless woefully low — is 13 actually the best it may well do with a Land Cruiser?
In equity to Toyota and people falling sales figures, it is a specialty vehicle. Because the Cruiser has grown older, it has gotten greater and develop into even more of a distinct segment vehicle. Certainly, except the proprietor has a family, and desires more than 5 seats, and desires large cargo capability and off-road ruggedness, what’s it for?
For 2020, Toyota shall be providing a Heritage version along with the standard model, with a special grille, bronzed wheels and a one-off Land Cruiser Heritage badge.
Perhaps Toyota might higher capitalize on the Land Cruiser heritage and produce again one of many smaller models, as Land Rover has done with its Defender. I wager sales would climb if Toyota had been to offer an up to date model of the FJ40 or FJ45 from its earlier years.
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser
Times’ take: Venerable carry-all carries on
Highs: Nonetheless good-looking and succesful as ever
Lows: Overfed, overpriced and really thirsty
Vehicle type: 4-door, eight-passenger SUV
Base worth: $86,060
Worth as examined: $88,280
Powertrain: 5.7-liter V-8 gasoline engine
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Torque: 401 pound-feet
Estimated gasoline economy ranking: 13 miles per gallon city / 18 highway / 15 combined