An old favorite gets some modern updates

The Toyota Land Cruiser is about as iconic as vehicles come, so it’s a big deal when something changes. For 2018 in global markets, the Land Cruiser is getting a few appearance upgrades and a redesigned dashboard – both in an effort to keep this go-anywhere, three-row SUV flying off showroom floors. Toyota debuted its updated Land Cruiser at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show ahead of its on-sale date later this year.

The Land Cruiser’s reputation is rooted in reliability and its rugged dependability in off-road situations, often far from civilization. It makes sense, then, that Toyota boasts about the SUV being “easy to maintain and repair” right in its press materials. You won’t find that in a Land Rover’s press kit. While easy trail repairs isn’t the Land Cruiser’s best selling point in North America where customers view it as a status symbol, many of the 190 countries place an extreme value on making a round trip when leaving the house. Of course, the 2018 Land Cruiser is more than just reliable transportation. It offers plenty of luxury and creature comforts, too. Let’s check out what changes Toyota has made for 2018. Perhaps some of these will even make it to the U.S.-spec Land Cruiser, as well.

Continue reading for more about the 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Exterior

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Toyota has brought a handful of cosmetic updates to the Land Cruiser for 2018. Chief among them is the new front clip. It includes a new grille, reworked lower fascia, and new headlights. Now, Toyota isn’t changing stuff for that simple sake. Rather, these changes help improve the Land Cruiser’s abilities in the bush.

The grille and lower fascia, for example, are higher than before, helping the Land Cruiser’s water fording ability. The headlights are now mounted further inboard, keeping them safer from trail damage. Even the hood has a functional purpose to its design. That center crease helps give the driver a better view of the trail ahead. The same is true for the front fenders, which now have taller edges that help the driver know the width of the vehicle, allowing him to use every inch of trail. Of course, these physical features are supplemented by the Land Cruiser’s high-tech 360-degree camera system and Toyota’s new Multi-Terrain Monitor with its Under-Floor View, which renders a simulated image on the infotainment screen of the real-world obstacles ahead.

Summed up, the changes for 2018 give the trusty Land Cruiser a fresh, more modern look.

Of course, the front isn’t the only new sheet metal. The rear received some heavy massaging, with new taillights and a revised liftgate. Those lights are now oriented vertically, helping give the Land Cruiser more visual height rather than width, as the old, fatter taillights did. Gone is the wide swath of chrome, traded for a tasteful chrome piece just above the license plate.

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What would a mid-cycle refresh be without some new wheels, too? Toyota offers choices between 17-, 18-, and 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in street-biased tires that are actually not terrible in the dirt. Expedition leaders might want to swap them for a set of dedicated all-terrain or mud tires, though.

Interior

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The Land Cruiser’s interior didn’t escape change, either. Toyota has rearranged the dashboard to better organize switches and buttons. In fact, things are placed into three categories: drivetrain, driving, and comfort. The reasoning is to help the driver find controls without having to search or take his eyes off the road.

New items include the driver’s gauge cluster, the infotainment screen, the top-mounted HVAC vents, the HVAC controls, and the prominently placed 4WD controls. As for the gauges, there is a new 4.2-inch TFT display for vehicle information and four analog gauges for the usual stuff like speed, fuel level, and engine rpm. A rather nice 8.0-inch infotainment screen now resides above the center stack, offering all the modern conveniences wrapped in Toyota’s Touch 2 with Go software. Luxury touches include leather seating, a leather-wrapped and wood-capped steering wheel, thick pads for elbows and knees, and things like heated seats and tri-zone climate controls.

Luxury touches include leather seating, a leather-wrapped and wood-capped steering wheel, thick pads for elbows and knees

The Land Cruiser might be a champ off the beaten path, but it’s not a small vehicle. It holds seven people in a 2+3+3 configuration. The third-row seats have a unique folding action unlike most SUVs Americans are used to. The 50/50-split bench actually folds against the walls, creating a flat load space without the seats submerging into the floor. The second row has 60/40 split and each side tumbles forward to rest against the front seatbacks. None of the rear chairs nestle into the floor. Still, the Land Cruiser offers 81.7 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats folded away.

Drivetrain

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Things remain the same behind the Land Cruiser’s new grille. The three familiar engines return: the 2.8-liter D-4D four-cylinder turbodiesel, the 2.7-liter gasoline four-cylinder, and the 4.0-liter gasoline V-6. However, Toyota decided to end the availability of the gasoline V-6 in Australia due to the D-4D’s massive 98.8-percent take-rate.

It’s no wonder the little 2.8-liter four-cylinder is so popular – it makes 128 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque when paired with the six-speed automatic transmission. Toyota does offer a six-speed manual, too, but that does cap the D-4D’s torque to only 309 pound-feet.

The three familiar engines return: the 2.8-liter D-4D four-cylinder turbodiesel, the 2.7-liter gasoline four-cylinder, and the 4.0-liter gasoline V-6

As for the 2.7-liter gasoline four-cylinder, it only makes 118 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, making it the least-desirable engine option. The venerable 4.0-liter gasoline V-6 returns, too, with its same 180 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. Of course, not all three engine options and transmission pairings will be available in all 190 counties the Land Cruiser is sold in. The 2.8-liter turbodiesel is the only choice in Australia and Western Europe. Eastern Europe and other markets will have access to the two gasoline mills.

The Full-Time 4WD System

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Of course, a big part of the Land Cruiser is its full-time 4WD system. A Torsen limited-slip center differential splits power between the half-shaft axles up front and the solid axle out back. The differential offers both high and low range gears. In normal operation, torque is split 40/60 to the front and rear. Should a wheel start slipping, the system automatically routes power to the wheels with traction, giving the Land Cruiser a sure footing.

The system then controls the throttle and brakes to maintain that speed over any terrain while the driver can concentrate on steering

Working in conjunction with the mechanical 4WD system is Toyota’s CRAWL Control, A-TRAC, and Multi-Terrain Select systems. CRAWL control, as used on vehicles like the Tacoma and 4Runner, is like a low-speed cruise control. It allows the driver to set a constant speed under roughly 10 mph. The system then controls the throttle and brakes to maintain that speed over any terrain while the driver can concentrate on steering. The A-TRAC system, or Active Traction Control, uses individual brake inputs to control wheel spin while feathering throttle input from the driver’s right foot. Multi-Terrain Select offers driver-selectable settings like Mogul, Rock, Rock and Dirt, Loose Rock, and Mud and Sand. Together, along with Downhill Assist and Hill-Start Assist, these systems help keep the Land Cruiser moving regardless of the terrain.

Another interesting feature is Turn Assist. When in 4WD Low range, it allows the driver to individually lock the inside rear wheel, essentially making the Land Cruiser pivot on that point. Those who have operated a tractor with individual rear brakes will know the advantages locking the inside wheel gives to reducing the turning radius. In other words, Turn Assist makes the three-row Land Cruiser handle like a two-door Jeep Wrangler – but only at a slow crawl.

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All these features are bolted to the Land Cruiser’s backbone – a ladder frame on which the body and suspension are bolded. Up front, the Land Cruiser uses an independent suspension system with MacPherson struts, while the rear suspension uses a multi-link and coil-spring setup to locate and damp the solid rear axle.

Pricing

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Toyota did not release pricing at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, but those details shouldn’t be too far from becoming official. As for the current Land Cruiser, it starts at $54,000 and can grow to around $86,000 in Australia. Here in the U.S., the Land Cruiser starts at $83,665 and goes up from there. About the only major option offered on the U.S.-spec Land Cruiser is the $2,220 rear seat entertainment package. As for the updated 2018 model, expect prices to rise slightly, but not over $500. We’ll update you when the information becomes available.

The Competition

Land Rover Range Rover

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2015 Land Rover Range Rover LWB - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The Range Rover is a close rival to the Land Cruiser in terms of a pure icon symbol of luxurious off-roading. In it current form, the Range Rover is a modern, aluminum-intensive unibody with a sophisticated lineup of powertrains a full-time 4WD system, and a four-wheel independent suspension system with adjustable air ride.

Power comes from a trio of engine options starting with a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 340 horsepower. For those wanting efficiency, Land Rover now has its 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel with 254 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque that gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Those lusting after power will want the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 with 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. Regardless of choice, an eight-speed automatic does the shifting and the full-time 4WD system is standard. Ordering the Terrain Response 2 system is required for getting all the extra off-road goodies like the three locking differentials and low-range transfer case.

Prices for the Range Rover start at $85,650 and can grow well into the $100,000 range. Opting for the extended wheelbase or Autobiography editions will push the price even further north.

Read our full review on the Land Rover Range Rover.

Infiniti QX80

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2018 Infiniti QX80 Monograph
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The QX80 is a relative newcomer to the game, but actually hides a secret. It’s based on the Nissan Armada, which is based on the Nissan Patrol – a hard-core SUV build for talking the deserts of the Middle East. Here in the U.S., the QX80 is an overgrown luxury barge not built to tackle the Rubicon trail, but rather Rodeo Drive. Overstated proportions and a leather-lined interior give the Infiniti a definite air of form over function.

Under the hood is a 5.6-liter gasoline V-8 with a respectable 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic does the shifting Unlike the other three-row SUVs here, the QX80 actually comes standard in RWD. Making the front tires turn with a full-time 4WD system adds another $3,100. Sadly, the Nissan Patrol’s rugged underpinnings have been softened here, tuned for a supple ride rather than crushing boulders.

Pricing starts at $89,000 and quickly edges toward that six-figure mark. Those not concerned with blazing down trails might enjoy the plushiness of the QX80, though the Land Rover will certainly give it a run for its money.

Read our full review on the Infiniti QX80.

Conclusion

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The improvements to the Land Cruiser certainly help prepare it for entry into the next decade. However, as vehicles become more complicated and driven by fuel economy improvements, it’s great to see the Land Cruiser hold out against outlandish changes. Toyota has kept things (mostly) simple while still adopting all the necessary modern tech it takes to sell a vehicle today. Infotainment screens and fancy off-road modes aside, the Land Cruiser still embodies that timeless spirit of expedition and rugged dependability. Its new face and dashboard don’t subtract from that. Still, I’m definitely impressed with the updates. I’m also looking forward to seeing what updates will come to the U.S.-spec Land Cruiser and if Toyota will actually market the vehicle outside its apparent strategy of word-of-mouth from loyal repeat Land Cruiser customers.

  • Leave it
    • * Fewer customization options than competitors
    • * Base gasoline four-cylinder is underpowered
    • * U.S. version still a year away

References

Toyota Land Cruiser

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Read our full review on the previous generation Toyota Land Cruiser.

Toyota “Invincible 50” Celebrates 50 Years Of Hilux High Resolution Exterior
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Read all the latest news from Toyota

Press release

With an off-road heritage spanning more than 65 years, the Land Cruiser remains unique in its segment for its ability to combine outstanding quality, durability and reliability with unrivalled off-road performance and ever greater levels of luxury, occupant comfort and ownership prestige.

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Available in more than 190 countries worldwide, the most of all existing Toyota models, the Land Cruiser’s unrivalled off-road abilities have earned it a rock-solid reputation as one of the world’s toughest and most reliable 4x4s, and made it the segment sales leader in more than 10 European countries.

The new Land Cruiser further enhances this reputation with new, more modern and robust exterior styling, more sophisticated, comfortable and higher quality interior design, improvements to its dynamic abilities and user-friendliness, both on- and off-road.

Featuring ergonomically optimised and functionally grouped switchgear, a new dashboard design incorporates the large, 8 inch Toyota Touch® 2 with Go multimedia system, Optitron driver’s meters, and a steering wheel switchgear-controlled 4.2’’ Multi-information Display.

On-board comfort has been enhanced through the adoption of front seat ventilation, rear seat heating and automatic climate control, an electric, heated windscreen and heated washer nozzles, reverse tilting door mirrors, and a new smart key design.

In western Europe the new Land Cruiser is powered by a 130 kW/177 DIN hp 2.8 D-4D turbodiesel. For eastern European markets the model is also available with a choice of 120 kW/161 DIN hp 2.7 VVT-i and 183 kW / 249* DIN hp 4.0 VVT-i petrol engines.

Key to the Land Cruiser’s peerless off-road capability is its highly durable, deformation-resistant, segment-unique body-on-frame construction.

Easy to maintain and repair, its combination of very high strength and proven durability not only offers a high level of damage protection, but also significantly reduced body twist, allowing the driver to optimise both vehicle positioning and control.

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In addition, the body-on-frame construction efficiently isolates the cabin from suspension impacts, making even the most challenging off-road conditions more comfortable for vehicle occupants.

Helping even unskilled drivers maximise the vehicle’s off-road performance, the Land Cruiser’s all terrain support systems make it one of the most technically advanced, safe, pleasurable and easy to use four-wheel drive vehicles in the world.

No other SUV can offer the new Land Cruiser’s unique combination of off-road performance and on-road dynamics. Its powerful road presence and high levels of on-board technology hallmark it as a premium 4x4 with the perfect blend of go-anywhere capability, comfort and refinement.

Wherever you want to go, Land Cruiser will take you there. And bring you back.

MORE DYNAMIC, MODERN AND ROBUST STYLING

The exterior design of successive Land Cruiser generations has always combined the stylish aesthetics of a vehicle entirely at home in any environment with the robust image of durability and power expected from a genuine four-wheel drive machine.

The new Land Cruiser builds on this proven, trusted formula with a new design which is visually more agile and dynamic, yet maintains three core strengths essential to the vehicle’s renowned go-anywhere credentials:

Total Practicality -with headlamps and cooling openings positioned to maximise both protection and wading depth; Total Durability -with the powertrain and all functional parts well protected; and Total Capability -with the tight turning circle and generous ground clearance essential for even the most demanding off-road driving.

The new Land Cruiser’s overall length has increased by 60 mm to 4,840 mm (4,565 mm for the 3-door model). It boasts exceptional manoeuvrability, with a minimum turning circle of just 5.8 metres (5.2 metres for the 3-door model).

With newly designed bonnet, radiator grille, headlamps, front bumper and fenders, the front of the Land Cruiser draws on several structural elements from its unique design heritage.

The bonnet has been shaped to enhance downward visibility at the centre. In order to protect the engine bay, it is sandwiched by the bumper sides. Incorporating integral fog lamps, the lower part of the bumper corners kick upwards and the centre section has been shaped like a skid plate to enhance off-road manoeuvrability. And the fender tops have been raised to help drivers more easily locate the vehicle extremities.

Organised into a powerful, single graphic form, the radiator grille and headlamps have been placed high for greater off-road functionality. The grille openings are as large as possible to allow for optimum engine cooling performance, while the headlamp main beams are positioned inboard to avoid damage from obstacles during off-road driving.

In keeping with Land Cruiser heritage, the grille itself features broad vertical bars with slit-shaped cooling openings finished in chrome. Integrating high and low beams, a front turn signal lamp and Daytime Running Lights (DRL) within a distinctive casing, the headlamp clusters may be equipped with either halogen or LED/halogen headlamps, the latter incorporating LED DRL.

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Reinforcing the Land Cruiser’s broad, powerful stance, the sharply trimmed lower section minimises the effect of the front overhang on the vehicle’s off-road driving approach angle. Allied to a minimum ground clearance of 215 mm (205 mm for 3-door models), the 31 degree approach, 25 degree departure and 22 degree ramp breakover angles, ensure the model’s off-road abilities.

In profile, the front bumper peak has been raised, and the bonnet, fender line, front bumper and rear bumper are now aligned on the same horizontal axis, giving the new Land Cruiser a more athletic and dynamic posture. The vehicle profile is further enhanced by a choice of six-spoke 17” alloys with new, low RRC (Rolling Resistance Coefficient) tyres, high gloss painted 18’’ alloys, or a new, 12-spoke, machined finish 19’’ alloy wheel design.

To the rear, new elements include a redesigned lamp cluster featuring an LED stop light, a smaller rear garnish plate incorporated within the number plate surround, and a restyled bumper with a kicked up base to the protruding corners.

The new Land Cruiser is available in a choice of ten body colours, including two newly available –Midnight Emerald Blue and Avant-Garde Bronze metallic.

HIGHER QUALITY INTERIOR

The interior of the new Land Cruiser features revised dashboard styling incorporating new designs for the driver’s instrument binnacle and centre console. It combines improved operability with the refined finish appropriate to a premium quality all-terrain vehicle.

The drivetrain-, driving- and comfort-related switchgear has been clearly separated into function-specific zones and ergonomically optimised for ease of use under even the most extreme conditions.

The top of the new centre console tower has been lowered for a more sleek appearance and improved front visibility when driving off-road. It incorporates a new, larger 8’’ full-colour multimedia screen, a flush-surface air-conditioning control panel and the drivetrain-related instrument cluster.

Behind a new leather-clad gear lever reshaped for greater comfort, the driving- and comfort-related switchgear are clearly divided into separate panels for ease of use. The latter now includes heating and ventilation to the front seats.

Finished with a Silver Hairline texture that creates the appearance of sculpted metal, the centre console tower is cushioned between soft pads that support the occupants’ knees.

In the redesigned, four-gauge driver’s instrument binnacle, the precision Optitron meters feature a metallic base panel and spin polished dials with raised scale markings. They flank a 4.2’’ TFT colour Multi-information Display which provides drivers with comprehensive vehicle and infotainment data. Controlled via steering wheel mounted switchgear, the display features on-screen content including driving, vehicle, navigation, audio, driver assistance and warning message information.

The steering wheel itself is also new, now matching that found in Land Cruiser V8 models.

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The heightened luxury and sophistication of the new interior design has been further enhanced by new, white illumination for the instrument panel, centre console and door switchgear. And a new interior lighting scheme incorporates LED front footwell, roof head lining and glove box lamps, and door panel illumination for a high quality cabin ambience.

The new Land Cruiser’s interior features a choice of three colour schemes -Black, Brown/Black and newly available Premium Beige. A choice of trim finishes completes the premium quality cabin ornamentation –a silver Hairline metallic finish matching the centre console treatment and newly developed Light Brown or Dark brown wood grain.

DIESEL AND PETROL POWERTRAINS

The 2.8 D-4D is a 2,755 cm3, 16 valve, DOHC four-cylinder engine which develops 130 kW/177 DIN hp at 3,400 rpm. Mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain develops an impressive 370 Nm of torque at only 1,200 rpm, and a maximum 450 Nm of torque between 1,600 and 2,400 rpm. It will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 12.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 175 km/h. Average fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 7.4 l/100 km and 194 g/km respectively.

When mated to the 6-speed manual transmission, the Land Cruiser 2.8 D-4D develops a maximum 420 Nm of torque between 1,400 and 2,600 rpm. It will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 12.1 seconds, and on to a top speed of 175 km/h while returning an average fuel consumption of 7.4 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of 194 g/km.

The proven, 2,694 cm3 petrol engine generates 120 kW/161 DIN hp at 5,200 rpm and maximum torque of 246 Nm at 3,900 rpm. When mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, the 2.7 litre unit achieves a top speed of 165 km/h and an average fuel consumption of 12.3 l/100 km. When matched to a 6-speed automatic gearbox, maximum speed is 160 km/h and average fuel consumption 12.5 l/100 km.

The 4.0 VVT-i petrol engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and develops 183 kW / 249 DIN hp at 5,600 rpm and 381 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm.

EXPANDED RANGE OF SAFETY FEATURES

High grade Land Cruiser models with automatic transmission come equipped with ‘Toyota Safety Sense’, a set of active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations.

Combining a camera and millimetre-wave radar for a high level of detection performance, the Land Cruiser’s Toyota Safety Sense system features a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with a Pedestrian Detection function, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), and Automatic High Beam (AHB) technology.

Further driver support and safety enhancing systems include a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and an upgraded Tyre Pressure Warning System (TPWS).

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