News Column

Toyota Land Cruiser

January 3, 2008

Ralph Gray

Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land Cruiser is a sports utility that has gone straight. The Land Cruiser's best direction is dead ahead whether it's on or off road it's a rock-bashing rocket.

On pavement it charges to 60 mph in a brisk seven seconds or so. That's tremendously fast for a large SUV of 7,275 pounds. Off-road, the Land Cruiser wants to go over or through the rocky rills. The Land Cruiser was bred to star off road and give a comfortable on-road trip.

It's only when the road bends a bit that the Land Cruiser starts to demur. When pressed on the curlies, it lets you know you're nearing the trouble line. There's plenty of warning via a body roll that approaches a motorboat on a sweep. Land Cruiser almost defines understeer, the desire of the vehicle to go straight that provides a protective warning.

But down the straight and narrow, the Land Cruiser does just that it cruises the land.

Something called Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System uses hydraulic control cylinders to vary roll stiffness. The idea is for the ride to tighten up on road and relax off road (to absorb those bumpy boulders.)

The six-speed automatic transmission uses "artificial intelligence" to estimate road conditions and predict what the driver wants to do. The smarty-pants sensor then selects the right gear.

Power comes from the 5.7L V-8 of 381 horsepower used in the Tundra pickup. The Tundra platform is tweaked for Land Cruiser. Four-wheel drive is always on.

More driver assistance comes off-road with a CRAWL system. With the Land Cruiser in low range, CRAWL controls engine speed and braking force to propel the LC forward or in reverse at one of three low-speed settings. The driver thus freed from regulating speed, can pay complete attention to rough terrain or steep grades. Or nap.

Toyota Land Cruiser interior Toyota Land Cruiser

•Engines: 5.7 V-8

•Dimensions: 112.2" wheelbase; 194.9" length

•Base price: $63,200; As tested $67,743

•Fuel economy: 13/18 mpg

For those wishing to actually drive, the Land Cruiser provides commanding seating with a view of nearly the entire hood. There's plenty of legroom in front and second-row seats. The third row of the eight-passenger vehicle has flip down side seats that face inboard.

Special mention is deserved for the side mirrors that are exceptionally large and cunningly placed for optimum views. The navigation screen/backup monitor is nice and large, too.

The radio has round knobs for volume and tuning as more and more manufacturers jump onto the advanced technology bandwagon.

Toyota says more than a third of Land Cruiser buyers will go off-road. For some that will only mean just getting the tires dirty (but not the $67,743 vehicle.) Others will be more serious. For sure, the Land Cruiser is.

Source: Hispanic (c) Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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