2011 Toyota Land Cruiser Expert Review

You'll Like The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser If...

The Land Cruiser's safari-venturing roots serve it well. Those looking for a large SUV that can tackle the most inhospitable terrain will find much to like in the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser.

You May Not Like The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser If...

If your primary need is transporting kids and cargo with minimal fuss, the Land Cruiser's old-fashioned flip-up third-row seats are not as convenient as the flush-folding type, plus they take up valuable cargo space.

What's New

There are no major changes for the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Interior Features

The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser's large interior can seat up to eight passengers, or as few as one person and a mountain of gear (or any number of combinations in between.) Oddly, where most of the Land Cruiser's competitors offer a flush or flat-folding third-row seat, Toyota has chosen to stick with an outdated split-bench design in which the two halves flip up and stow at the cargo bay's sides. The design isn't just awkward; it actually eats up quite a bit of cargo space. When the third row is not in use, adjustable second-row seating can be pushed rearward to create additional legroom. Although the instrument panel is well designed and easy to see, it is awash in numerous switches, gauges and displays, requiring the driver to first spend some time with the owner's manual to figure out what they all do.

Exterior Features

The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser shuns the use of gimmicky plastic add-ons and bulging fender flares to impart its place as an off-road dynamo. Instead, the Land Cruiser relies on the same simple and clean design that made the original such a timeless classic. Although this is the longest Land Cruiser to date, its excellent ground clearance and short front and rear overhangs allow it easy access over boulder-strewn paths or on steep approach angles. We especially like the Land Cruiser's slim A-pillars, which allow for excellent visibility when traversing narrow trails.

Driving Impressions

The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser's stiffened ladder frame helps eliminate squeaks and rattles, as well as serves as the foundation for its hefty suspension setup. The Land Cruiser's ride quality is impressively smooth, even over broken pavement. Body roll and lean seem to be kept in check, and the steering response is precise and confident. Despite its nearly 5,700-pound weight, the Land Cruiser can accelerate and pass with confidence. We took our Land Cruiser over several severe off-road exercises, including climbing rock piles, traversing deep dirt moguls and descending a steep, snow-covered hill. In every situation, the Land Cruiser defeated its opponent and left us feeling supremely confident in its ability to handle more. In the urban jungle, however, the Land Cruiser is not so easy to tame, and we found that parking and maneuvering in tight quarters was a challenge, even with the sonar proximity-warning system and rearview camera.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser starts just under $69,000, while fully-optioned versions are roughly $75,000. This is a bargain compared to the seven-seat Mercedes-Benz GL550 SUV or the five-place Land Rover Range Rover HSE, which both start closer to $80,000. However, the Land Cruiser is comparably priced to the all-wheel-drive Cadillac Escalade, which also seats eight and starts around $67,000.To get the best price on your Land Cruiser, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are actually paying for this vehicle in your area. As for resale, the Land Cruiser is expected to hold its value reasonably well, better than the Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz GL and Land Rover Ranger Rover.

Notable Equipment

Highlights of the Toyota Land Cruiser's standard features are full-length side-curtain airbags, which deploy in side impacts or rollovers. They account for two of its 10 airbags. To help prevent the need for airbags, the Land Cruiser has full-time four-wheel drive, vehicle stability control, four-wheel traction control and an anti-lock brake system (ABS) designed to produce shorter and more controllable stops in snow, on sanded roads and off the pavement. A sonar system warns drivers of obstacles hidden close to the vehicle. The four-zone climate control system's 28 outlets should help all passengers stay comfortable. The Land Cruiser is available in one trim level.

Notable Options

A satellite navigation system and a rear-view camera top the list of options available for the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser. The camera's image is projected on the navigation system's screen when reverse is selected. It's possible to get these separately or as part of the Upgrade Package, which bundles almost all of the Land Cruiser's optional equipment. Passengers on long road trips will appreciate the package's rear-seat entertainment system, which includes a nine-inch display, six-disc CD/DVD changer and jacks for audio and games, heated second-row seats and a refrigerated "cool box" in the center console.

Favorite Features

PTC Heater

A nice feature to have for anyone living in a place where the word "minus" regularly precedes the outside temperature is the Land Cruiser's positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater. In extreme cold, the PTC can nearly-instantly heat the passenger cabin by passing air over a heated ceramic element.

Kinetic Driving Suspension System

During serious off-road driving, the new Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System maximizes suspension travel in order to keep the tires on the ground. Without it, a tire would hang uselessly over the valley between deep moguls when the suspension reached its limit of travel.

Under the Hood

The 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser's 5.7-liter double-overhead cam V8 produces 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, helping it tow trailers of up to 8,200-pounds. The capable six-speed automatic transmission employs a very low first gear for strong acceleration away from stoplights and two overdrive gears for better fuel economy. The Land Cruiser's revised full-time four-wheel-drive system has a Torsen torque-sensing center differential that sends engine torque to the axle with the most traction.

5.7-liter V8

381 horsepower @ 5600 rpm

401 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18

Editors' Notes

In the world of full-size SUVs, the 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser commands great respect. Combining the best attributes of a luxury car, a minivan, a serious off-road 4x4 and perhaps even a full-size pickup, the Land Cruiser is a single vehicle that can satisfy many needs. With seating for eight, Toyota's flagship SUV is a capable family mover. Its 381-horsepower V8 engine and battery of high-tech off-road-capable equipment make the Land Cruiser ideal for families whose idea of a relaxing holiday is to venture far from civilization. For those who prefer a more pampered vacation, the Land Cruiser's 8,200-pound tow rating will prove more than sufficient when pulling a boat or loaded horse trailer. Unfortunately, unlike the original Land Cruiser, the 2011 model has grown not only in size and complexity, it has also grown expensive, placing it out of reach for all but the well-to-do.

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