2018 Land Cruiser: The Millennium Falcon of Large Luxury SUVs

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2018 Land Cruiser

Toyota’s latest is as old school as they come with just the right amount of new school thrown into the mix.

The J200 or 200 Series Toyota Land Cruiser has been in production for just about a decade. Even though this current generation has been around for quite a while, the general public is surprised the Land Cruiser still exists. However, for fans of the legendary SUV, the Land Cruiser is as famous around the world as the Millennium Falcon is around the galaxy. Driving around all over Los Angeles over the course of a week, I’ve gotten to know why Toyota still makes this beastly machine.

2018 Land Cruiser

Old school rig sticks with its old school heart

Underneath the hood sits the familiar 5.7L naturally aspirated V8 (3UR-FE) that’s been in the Land Cruiser for the past 10 years. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? This particular V8 is used across the board in many different Toyota and Lexus vehicles, and for good reason. It’s extremely reliable and quite refined — truly one of the smoothest running V8 engines on the market. While other competitors have moved to turbocharged engines, Toyota has decided to stick to its guns and stay with what the car company knows best. The 3UR-FE is as good as ever, putting down 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. By all means, this big SUV can’t do 0.5 past lightspeed or do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but it’s no slouch. Never did I feel like the Land Cruiser needed more power, even while hauling six people onboard.

 

This SUV can’t do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but it’s no slouch. Never did I feel like the Land Cruiser needed more power, even while hauling six people onboard.

 

The latest update to the Land Cruiser in recent years is the new 8-speed gearbox. For the 2016 model year, gone was the old 6-speed that was replaced by a new one with two more gears. I know what you’re thinking: 8 gears is a bit much and could get a bit busy, right? You’d be wrong, because the 8-speed is quite lovely in all sorts of different driving conditions. While cruising around town, gear changes are seamless, almost CVT-like. And when you need to put the hammer down to make a pass on the highway, the transmission drops a gear and the engine revs up smoothly until the next gear change.

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser

The Falcon can hang with the more agile X-Wings. So can the Land Cruiser

Never would I ever say that a large SUV that weighs just a tick under three tons handles well, but this one does. It’s not going to be anything close to an 86 in the corners, but I was quite impressed with how composed the old girl handles up in the canyons. Not once did I feel in danger of pushing it too hard to the point of understeer at all. It’s funny to think that the Land Cruiser is confidence-inspiring, but it truly is. You feel like you can take on any road, paved or not, and get through it with superb comfortability.

In its truest form, the Land Cruiser has always been designed to tackle the toughest of terrain. And while its competitors are also capable of performing off-road, they have been fitted with large-diameter wheels with tires that might as well be rubber bands, all for the sake of aesthetics. That’s not the case with the Land Cruiser and its 18-inch wheels and tires. The appropriately sized wheels and tires are a key contributor to the SUV’s amazing, smooth ride. Motoring all around Downtown Los Angeles was a breeze not having to worry about dips or potholes.

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser

Land Cruiser’s understated looks help it fly under the radar

For the most part, the 200 Series Land Cruiser has looked pretty much the same since 2008. Though it’s never been a gorgeous SUV, it’s gotten prettier over the years with a new facelift and rear taillights. If I had to pick my favorite part of the exterior, it’s the front end, for sure, especially the LED headlight assemblies. Toyota/Lexus makes some the best headlights in the business, and the Land Cruiser’s headlights are so bright that many drivers have high-beamed me and even given me the middle finger. What was I supposed to do? All I did was laugh and go on with the rest of the journey.

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser

Just the right amount of luxury and technology in one package

As large as the Land Cruiser is on the outside, the inside feels just as airy and roomy. Inside the cockpit, I sat in LAY-Z  Boy-like comfort. The heated seats were especially appreciated during the cold mornings and late nights. (Yes, it does get cold in Los Angeles…sometimes.) Heck, I even gave the heated steering wheel function a go a couple of times. First world problems, right? The gauge cluster is classic Toyota, with a small LCD screen to display all sorts of information in between the tachometer and speedometer.

 

When it comes to its exterior, like the Falcon, the Land Cruiser is no standout. But it’ll get you to your destination one way or the other, whether it’s on tarmac or dirt.

 

The infotainment is the one place where the Land Cruiser falls behind. First, the navigation system looks awfully similar to the one in my grandfather’s 2008 Highlander. It’s time for Toyota to upgrade its GPS application ASAP. The touchscreen on the center stack is adequate, but it feels outdated. The Bluetooth works like a charm and connects with your phone within seconds of firing up the engine. Now, there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but it wasn’t a huge deduction to me because a lot of cars don’t have them available across the board quite yet. Note to Toyota: Please put some USB inputs in the second row.

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser

She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts

That’s the exact line Han Solo told Luke Skywalker when Luke first laid eyes on the Millennium Falcon. Like the Falcon, the Land Cruiser is no standout when it comes to its exterior. But it’ll get you to your destination one way or the other, whether it’s on tarmac or dirt. With it’s $87,500 sticker price, I can see why some people may be turned off, but it’s worth every penny. While some competitors may turn more heads and have more tech, the Land Cruiser will allow you to travel in comfort and luxury without being shouty about it.

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