What is it: Toyota's longest-running nameplate, the Land Cruiser has been around in one form or another since the early 1950s. Even though the current Land Cruiser is a luxurious and thoroughly modern full-size SUV, its thirsty V8 and soggy off-road-oriented suspension provide plenty of connection to its storied past.
Key Competitors: Nissan Armada, Land Rover Discovery, GMC Yukon
Base Price: $84,960 As-Tested Price: $85,185
Highlights: Big SUV competitors like the GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition have gotten stiffer, more refined and more efficient in recent years, but the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser is still the traditionalist's choice, for better and for worse.
Full review: Toyota Land Cruiser race organizer review
Our Opinion: To paraphrase a headline originally penned for the AMC Pacer, "Suddenly, it's 1996!" The Land Cruiser truly is a throwback, with massive, ponderous handling replete with body lean, brake dive and squat on acceleration. Even relatively conservative driving yielded a 14.2 mpg average over the course of a weekend, and the big Toyota even required some clever luggage arranging on an airport run due to the side-folding jumpseats intruding on the cargo area.
Guess what? Land Cruiser devotees wouldn't have it any other way, and I can see things from their perspective too. It's a big, beautifully built traditional utility that'll probably take you 250,000 miles between overhauls. It maintains strong vestiges of the shape it's had for a couple decades now, an interesting combination of generic SUV yet instantly recognizable as a Land Cruiser. The interior controls, materials and styling are classic Toyota — that's not to say the infotainment isn't fully up-to-date, but it eschews overly complex controls like the joystick found on the related Lexus LX570. The number of off-road mode and differential lock buttons and controls are also a far cry from the convenient single-button, computer-guided faux off-roading systems on modern crossovers, but it's also guaranteed the Land Cruiser will run circles around poseurs when the pavement ends.
The Land Cruiser isn't for everyone, even for everyone who wants a full-size SUV, and it's priced as such. If toting a big family is the top priority, there are far better choices with easier to reconfigure interiors. But the Land Cruiser's compromises, and its owners' willingness to bear with them in exchange for legendary quality and off-road prowess, makes it the very definition of an enthusiast vehicle.
—Andrew Stoy, digital editor
Options: Carpeted floor mats ($125)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $84,960
As Tested Price: $85,185
Powertrain: 5.7-liter V8, 4WD, 8-speed automatic
Output: 381 hp @ 5,600 rpm; 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
Curb Weight: 5,815 lb
Fuel Economy: 13/18/15 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Impeccably built; stays true to its traditional big SUV roots
Cons: Squishy handling and abysmal fuel economy of a traditional big SUV