The Land Cruiser has always been an icon of off-road prowess and effective people-moving since its introduction in 1957. Over the years, the Land Cruiser has morphed into a leather-lined luxury flagship that resides at the top of Toyota’s U.S. vehicle lineup. Now for 2016, the Land Cruiser sports updated front and rear ends, along with an updated cabin with plenty of features.

The Land Cruiser takes after Toyota’s youth brand, Scion, in the fact it only comes in one trim level. Unlike most every car and truck on the road, every Land Cruiser comes equipped with all the bells and whistles without having to pay extra for options. That leaves customers to choose interior and exterior colors.

The Land Cruiser also gets updates in the mechanical department. A new eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the old six-speed unit, while the venerable 5.7-liter V-8 carries over unchanged. Toyota’s Crawl Control has been added, while its Torsen center differential, Multi-terrain Select, A-Trac system, and KDSS hydraulically adjustable sway bars remain.

Inside there is room for eight passengers, with seating for three in both the second- and third-row seats. The third row seats still split in half and fold against the cabin walls to provide extra cargo room and the second row still folds flat. All told, the Land Cruiser can carry 81.7 cubic feet of cargo. If that isn’t enough space, the SUV can tow 8,500 pounds on its standard receiver hitch. That’s 300 pounds more than last year.

Continue reading for my full review of the refreshed Land Cruiser.

Exterior

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Toyota Land Cruiser High Resolution Exterior
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Toyota Land Cruiser High Resolution Exterior
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Designers obviously wanted to keep the Land Cruiser’s macho looks while giving it a new appearance

Designers obviously wanted to keep the Land Cruiser’s macho looks while giving it a new appearance. With that in mind, it makes sense only the front fenders, hood grille and rear tailgate see changes.

The new front end boasts some extra chrome on its three-bar grille that extends into the LED headlights. The hood now has two very tall power bulges that are supposed to exude the appeal of power but look more like just a challenge to wax. The front fenders still retain their flat sides with almost non-existent flairs.

Around back, the Land Cruiser gets a full-width chrome piece that extends into the LED taillights. That’s really the only noticeable visual update, though there are more to be found at closer inspection. The roof rails come standard and offer added cargo capacity. Full-length side steps help entry and exit, but also make easy targets for rocks and stumps. The whole thing rides on large 285/60R18 tires that wrap alloy wheels. A full-size spare with matching rim is also included.

Interior

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Toyota Land Cruiser High Resolution Interior
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Toyota Land Cruiser High Resolution Interior
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The previous-generation, 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser was posh, but the 2016 takes things to a new level. Folks might not mistake it for the clean design of a Range Rover, but the new aesthetic looks to be on par with the British machine. Toyota has added a new color option for the previously all-black interior. Now customers can opt for the Terra leather seats. The saddle brown floor adds a nice bit of warmth to the cabin. With both the Terra and black leather seats, there are wood trim and chrome accents.

The dashboard’s overall design remains similar to the outgoing model, but does get a welcomed update. An all-new steering wheel looks like it should feel superb. It’s also accented with the wood pieces. The tall center stack is capped by a new 9-inch infotainment display with Toyota’s latest Entune system.

Down below, the center console features a gated shifter with two main dials and several buttons. The knobs control the Multi-terrain Select and Crawl Control while the buttons control things like traction control, center differential lock, and hill decent control. A USB port and buttons for the heated and cooled front seats are just ahead of the gear shifter.

Rear-seat passengers are met with dual 11.6-inch monitors mounted to the front seat backs. The video system is capable of playing the same or separate programs.

Perhaps one of my biggest complaints about some modern cars is the lack of air vents in the back seats, leaving those passengers to sweat it out on hot days. That’s certainly not the case here as the Land Cruiser has a total of 28 air vents spread throughout the cabin. Cool.

Fitting three adults in the third row should be left to short-distance drives. For those with longer legs, the second row seats move fore and aft 4.1 inches to accommodate a variety of passenger sizes.

Finally, 13 speakers and a subwoofer from JBL provide the sound. The system offers AM/FM/CD with MP3 and WMA compatibility. SiriusXM and HD Radio with iTunes Tagging is also included.

Drivetrain

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Carrying over from last year is the tried and tested 5.7-liter V-8. Like it does in the 2014 Toyota Tundra, the engine produces 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. More importantly, the torque curve peaks at just 3,600 rpm, with 90 percent of torque available at just 2,200 rpm. This makes towing and hauling a snap.

While the engine may be old news, the transmission is not. This is an all-new, close-ratio eight-speed automatic unit that is said to improve the Land Cruiser’s acceleration and fuel efficiency. Interestingly enough and despite the extra two gears, Toyota’s estimated EPA ratings come in at 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined – matching those of the previous-generation Land Cruiser with its six-speed unit.

Of course, the Land Cruiser wouldn’t be a Land Cruiser without its 4WD system. Technically it’s a full-time AWD system with a locking center differential and low range. In normal conditions, the transfer case splits torque 40/60 front and rear. When things get slippery, the driver can push a button, locking the center differential. That locks power delivery into a 50/50 split front and rear. Low range is best suited for climbing steep grades, rock crawling, or vehicle recovery.

While in low range, the driver can activate Crawl Control. New to the Land Cruiser for 2016, this low-speed cruise control is adapted from the Toyota 4Runner and is also shared on the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. Simply turn the system on, set the crawl speed, and the computer will modulate the gas and brakes to crawl the vehicle over tough obstacles, leaving the driver to concentrate on steering.

In addition, Toyota’s Multi-terrain Select returns for 2016 and works much like Land Rover’s Terrain Response. Just turn the dial to whatever terrain you’re encountering, and the computer modifies ABS functions, throttle sensitivity, transmission shift points and traction control.

Protecting all the critical underbody components are skid places for the engine, transmission and fuel tank.

Safety

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Toyota has included plenty of active and passive safety systems on the new Land Cruiser. Carrying over are the 10 standard air bags, active head restraints, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, and Toyota’s cellular Safety Connect system. New for this year is a laundry list of driver assist technologies that help prevent accidents altogether. They include Toyota Safety Sense-P with frontal collision avoidance, frontal collision mitigation, lane departure alert, auto high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

Rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor are also included, as is a backup camera.

Prices

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Toyota has yet to release pricing information on the 2016 Land Cruiser, but the range-topping SUV is expected to get a slight price bump from its current $80,155 asking price.

Competition

Land Rover Range Rover

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Though Land Rover offers a wide range of optional extras and trim levels for the Range Rover, the “base” model still offers plenty of tech and loads of luxury. One thing it does not offer at its $84,950 starting price, is access to the mighty 5.0-liter supercharged V-8. This means customers are left with the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Not that the V-6 is a bad engine – as it produces 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque – but it doesn’t have the allure of the V-8.

Nevertheless, the Range Rover is the definition of posh. Everything inside is covered in leather and its off-road abilities are darn impressive.

Read more on the Land Rover Range Rover here.

Cadillac Escalade

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Ah, the Escalade – the rolling personification of in-your-face extravagance. That chrome grille and tall headlights are instantly recognizable. The latest version moves the bar higher than GM has before, with an interior that can put a Mercedes to shame.

Oh, and then there’s the engine. It’s a 6.2-liter V-8 that’s derived from the LT1 found in the Corvette. Making 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, the V-8 out-powers the others by a long shot. Best of all, the Escalade is less expensive than the Range Rover and Land Cruiser. The “base” Escalade starts at $72,970.

Read more on the 2015 Cadillac Escalade here.

Conclusion

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The Land Cruiser might not have the massive market share as some of its competitors, and that’s a shame. Its rugged body-on-frame design, honkin’ V-8 powerplant, and techno-filled AWD system check plenty of boxes on what consumers are looking for. Then again, the Land Cruisers of the past haven’t exactly been the personification of wealth or success – something its competitors do quite well. Hopefully these minor exterior tweaks and more extensive interior updates will change consumers’ minds about Toyota’s most luxurious SUV.

  • Leave it
    • * Thirsty
    • * Doesn’t have the "bling" to match the price
    • * Is this refresh enough to attract more customers?

Press Release

August 18, 2015
How do you improve ultimate? The Toyota Land Cruiser has long been the brand’s ultimate-capability, ultimate-luxury SUV, and for 2016 Toyota is ratcheting up the meaning of that term. New exterior and interior design features are the obvious changes made to the 2016 Land Cruiser, while new safety technology, a major drivetrain upgrade and enhanced multimedia features make this makeover far more than metal-skin deep.

Toyota has continually sold Land Cruiser models in the United States since 1957. Over the decades, the Land Cruiser has evolved from a utilitarian go-anywhere vehicle to one of the most luxurious full-capability SUVs on the market. Land Cruiser customers are among the most loyal in the auto industry; they seek ultimate capability and luxury, though packaged with renowned Toyota value and understated character.

The Land Cruiser body is new from the A-pillar forward. It’s a whole new look for this iconic vehicle, with the bumper, grille, projector-beam LED low and high beam headlights, headlight cleaners and integrated Land Cruiser logo, all contributing to the new design signature. The hood’s distinctive power bulges convey the potential of the 381-horsepower V8 that lies beneath. Teamed to that power plant for 2016 is the Toyota brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission, which helps enhance acceleration.

The Land Cruiser shows a new signature from behind, as well, thanks to new taillights with light-tube design and LED brake lights, a new full-width chrome molding and a new bumper. A chrome body side molding embossed with the Land Cruiser logo and new-design 18-inch alloy wheels accentuate the Land Cruiser’s muscular profile.

Once again, the Toyota Land Cruiser comes in one version: fully equipped and with seating for eight. There are no factory options, and really, none are needed. For 2016, new semi-aniline perforated leather is available in the customer’s choice of black or new Terra (brown). The black interior and Terra interiors are accented by Deep Wood trim. The high-quality materials complement a center console redesign that shows a more cohesive appearance and more intuitive controls.

The Land Cruiser’s Entune head unit is upgraded, adding Siri® Eyes Free mode and other performance enhancements. When paired with an iPhone, the driver simply pushes a steering wheel button and then speaks requests to Siri. And, new Qi wireless phone charging (for compatible devices) means one less cable to carry.

The luxurious new steering wheel, is heated as before, and also integrates switches for the multi-information display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and new Toyota Safety Sense-P system.

New Driver Assist Technologies
The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser is the first in the model’s history equipped with technology designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions and, under certain circumstances, help protect pedestrians in a collision. The new Toyota Safety Sense-P system includes Frontal Collision Avoidance, at speeds below 24 mph (including pedestrian protection); Frontal Collision Mitigation (also for speeds below 24 mph); Lane Departure Alert; Auto High Beams and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

In addition, the 2016 Land Cruiser can help the driver avoid hazards with the new Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. All the new driver-assist systems come standard. A backup camera is also standard, and also useful for hitching a trailer.

An Engine That Deserves to be Called a Power Plant
The Land Cruiser driver will not be wanting for power. The 381 horsepower 5.7-liter DOHC V8 engine features Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and produces 401 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. Equally critical is that the engine produces 90-percent of peak torque at just 2,200 rpm, giving Land Cruiser a powerful response for any driving situation and making it especially useful for towing.

For 2016, a new 8-speed automatic transmission replaces the 6-speed unit, with the added ratios allowing a wider ratio spread to help enhance acceleration and fuel efficiency. When the going gets rough, the driver can select manual control for more powertrain control. EPA fuel efficiency is 13 mpg in the city, 18 mpg on the highway and 15 combined.

And the Land Cruiser can tow: the standard Trailer Towing Package equips it to pull a trailer up to 8,500 pounds. The hardware needed for towing is all there, including an engine oil cooler, as well as a connector and sub-wiring harness that facilitate a trailer-brake controller. Trailer Sway Control uses the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) to help counteract trailer sway, helping to make towing a more relaxed proposition.

Tough Where It Counts
The smooth-riding, unabashedly plush Land Cruiser is built with tough-as-nails body-on-frame construction. Its reassuringly solid feel comes from more than size. Its body structure makes extensive use of high-strength steel, especially in the A-, B-, C- and D-pillars and rocker area.

Offering the comfort of a luxury sedan in everyday driving, the Land Cruiser comes ready to tackle off-pavement and trail driving, making out-of-the-way vacation cabins seem less out of the way. Suspension design combines proven trail capability with advanced control technology. Key to the Land Cruiser’s off-pavement competence is suspension articulation, facilitated by long wheel travel.

And the suspension has some high-tech hydraulic help. Hardcore off-road drivers will, when necessary, disembark their vehicles to disconnect the suspension stabilizer bars in order to increase wheel articulation. That’s a tough, dirty and even dangerous job, and it can impair on-road handling if the bars are left disconnected. Fortunately, such dirty work is completely unnecessary in the Toyota Land Cruiser. Its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) hydraulically adjusts the lean resistance provided by the stabilizer bars, reducing it for off-road driving to help minimize any tendency for wheel lift.

On pavement, where stabilizer bar function is beneficial for agility and safe control, KDSS enables the bars work conventionally to help reduce body lean by as much as 50 percent. The system operates hydraulically, without the need for complex electronics.

Approach and departure angles are 30 degrees and 20 degrees, respectively, for confident off-road maneuvering. While traversing rocky terrain, the driver can take comfort knowing underbody panels help to protect the Land Cruiser’s engine and transmission.

Full-Time 4WD, With A Supporting Cast of Advanced Control Systems
Four-wheel drive is a given in a full-capability SUV, but not all 4WD systems are equal. The Land Cruiser’s full-time 4WD system uses a TORSEN® limited-slip locking center differential to distribute torque 40:60 front-to-rear. Should wheel slippage occur, the differential can direct more torque to the wheels with the best grip. Active Traction control (A-TRAC) employs both brake and throttle intervention to help control wheel spin. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), with a cut-off switch, helps maintain directional control during cornering.

Off-road drivers know that a 2-speed transfer case with low-range is a must for tackling steep inclines and particularly difficult trails. That’s why the Land Cruiser has one, and it, too, does not work alone. The Land Cruiser’s Multi-terrain Select system allows the driver to match wheel slip control to the surface and driving conditions.

Multi-terrain Select allows more-than-normal wheel slip in loose terrain, such as mud and sand, to help the Land Cruiser keep moving without digging itself in. The Mogul setting is effective for traversing extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes, and ridges; wheel slip is minimized and the system acts more like a limited slip differential.

Land Cruiser also features an enhanced Multi-Terrain Monitor with selectable front, side or rear views with near 360-degree visability and five-second front undercarriage projected path video playback.

Low-range is also vital for crawling along at a slow, safe speed over challenging terrain. With the transfer case shifted into low range, the Land Cruiser’s CRAWL Control regulates engine speed and output, along with braking force, to propel the vehicle forward or reverse at one of five driver-selectable low-speed settings. CRAWL Control, when engaged, allows the driver to focus on steering without also having to modulate the throttle or brake pedals.

Two more systems help out on trails. Downhill Assist Control (DAC) can augment the low-range ratio’s low-speed descending ability by helping to hold the vehicle to a target speed with minimal driver intervention. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) helps prevent nerve-wracking roll-back when stopping and then starting again on a steep incline or slippery surface.

Because trails are usually not as comfortably wide as highway lanes, the Land Cruiser comes equipped with Off-Road Turn Assist. The system tightens the turning radius by applying slight brake pressure to the inside rear wheel, creating a pivot effect. Big P285/60 R18 mud-and-snow tires on 18 x 8.0-inch aluminum alloy wheels help give the Land Cruiser exemplary grip in all conditions. With a tire that size, you’d want the reassurance of having a full-size spare, and it’s standard on Land Cruiser. And you’ll always know it’s ready because the direct individual tire pressure monitor system also monitors the spare.

Of course, all of the Land Cruiser’s impressive 4WD hardware and chassis control technology also help take the slip out of slippery weather in everyday driving.

Luxury is not an Option; It’s Standard
To get the Land Cruiser equipped with the most desirable features, the customer need only choose … color. The Land Cruiser comes fully equipped, requiring no options or packages to add premium luxury. The very long list of standard amenities includes perforated leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescoping with memory. The list keeps going: Smart Key keyless entry with push-button start; anti-theft security system with engine immobilizer; power moonroof; auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors; HomeLink® universal garage-door/gate opening system, and much more.

The Land Cruiser’s four-zone automatic climate control system provides a comfortable environment for all onboard. Its 7-level blower control circulates heated or cooled air via 28 air vents located throughout the cabin, and a micro-dust and pollen filter helps keep that air clean. When it’s cold outside, the Land Cruiser’s auxiliary Positive Temperature Coefficient heater warms the cabin quickly using an electrically heated ceramic element, similar to a household space heater.

The Land Cruiser driver faces a panel of bright Optitron instrument gauges, and a Multi-Information Display shows gear selection, odometer, tripmeter, fuel consumption, individual tire pressures and cruising range. The Multi-Information Display also monitors parking assist, steering wheel angle, Multi-Terrain Select including Crawl Control, Dynamic Cruise Control adjustment information, TSS P pre-collision warning alarm adjustment, Lane Departure Alert and sway warning. The center console, which was redesigned for 2016, integrates a cooler box, USB port and cup holders.

Luxury permeates all three rows. The middle row seats are also trimmed in perforated leather and feature multi-stage heating and abrasion-resistant seatback material. The 40/20/20 split seat is built for comfort and convenience. It’s got a recline feature, and a one-touch tumble mechanism makes it easy for passengers to enter and exit the third row. When you need to maximize room for either passengers or cargo, the middle row seats also slide forward and aft 4.1 inches. The third row are 50/50 split fold-down leather trimmed with folding headrests with abrasion resistant seatback materials, which seats three occupants. With the middle and third rows folded, the Land Cruiser provides 81.7 cubic feet of cargo space.

JBL® Synthesis Premium Audio with Entune®
Music lovers will recognize JBL as the brand behind some of the world’s best concert hall speaker systems. It’s also the name behind the standard Land Cruiser’s Entune Premium JBL® Audio with Integrated Navigation system. The system creates the effect of driving a concert hall, with stunningly clear, powerful sound delivered through 14 speakers, including a subwoofer. It’s all controlled through the new-for-2016 nine-inch touch screen.

The unit’s split screen capability allows navigation and audio screens to be displayed at the same time. The music sources includes an AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability; SiriusXM® All Access Satellite Radio capability (includes three-month complimentary trial subscription); HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging; USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, and music streaming via Bluetooth®, which also provides hands-free phone capability and phone book access. Advanced voice recognition lets you speak simple commands to get what you want.

The Toyota Entune App Suite is a collection of popular mobile applications and subscription-free data services. Once a smartphone is paired to the vehicle using Bluetooth or a USB cable, Entune apps are operated using the vehicle’s controls or, for some services, by voice recognition. Entune offers apps for Destination Search, Facebook Places, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable®, Pandora®, Yelp®, and Slacker Radio.

Rear passengers will enjoy Land Cruiser’s rear-seat DVD entertainment system featuring two individual 11.6-inch display monitors, RCA jacks and separate HDMI input for individual playback.

Star Safety
Connectivity gives drivers and passengers more choices for information and entertainment, and it also provides added peace of mind. Using onboard cellular technology, independent of the driver’s phone, Toyota’s Safety Connect™ offers Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), and enhanced Roadside Assistance, which adds GPS data to the already-included warranty-based Toyota roadside service. One-year of Safety Connect service is included, and subscription packages are available after that.

Safety, too, comes from an array of technologies that make up the STAR Safety System™ that’s standard on all Toyotas. The Land Cruiser multi-terrain anti-lock braking system (ABS) automatically selects the optimal ABS profile to provide the most suitable brake force for on- and off-road driving surfaces. Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) balances braking forces between the front and rear brakes, and Brake Assist (BA) provides auxiliary force to assist the driver during emergency braking.

All eight seating positions have three-point seatbelts, and Land Cruiser features 10 airbags: driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System; driver and front passenger knee airbags; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, second-row outboard seat-mounted side airbags and three-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags.

Active headrests on the driver and front passenger seats move up and forward almost instantly in the event of certain rear-end collisions to help reduce the distance between the occupant’s head and the headrest. The advanced seatbelt system is designed to retract the front seatbelts when the brakes are suddenly applied or when the VSC system detects tire slippage. The standard parking sonar system uses ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear bumpers to sense obstacles.

Limited Warranty and ToyotaCare
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation. Toyota dealers have complete details on the limited warranty.

The Land Cruiser also comes standard with ToyotaCare, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

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