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2018 Toyota Land Cruiser

Successful relationships are built on honesty and trust, and the Toyota Land Cruiser has found success as a straight-shooting and dependable sport-utility vehicle for more than 60 years. Although the Land Cruiser is no longer the no-frills Jeep alternative it originally was, the bricklike SUV remains true to its name: If there’s land in front of this Toyota, it can cruise on it.

As if following the creed of the United States Postal Service, the Land Cruiser is seemingly unaffected by snow or rain or heat or gloom of night thanks to a full suite of four-wheel-drive tools, which includes a two-speed transfer case and a Torsen-type limited-slip center differential that defaults to sending 60 percent of the engine’s torque rearward and 40 percent forward.

There’s plenty of torque to go around, as the Land Cruiser’s 381-hp 5.7-liter V-8 produces 361 lb-ft of the stuff at 2200 rpm; goose the engine to 3600 rpm and it delivers 401 lb-ft. All that grunt benefits the Land Cruiser on-road as much as it does off-road. In our testing, the 5934-pound SUV made its way to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds and completed the quarter-mile after 15.1 seconds at 93 mph. Both times were identical to those of a Land Cruiser we tested nearly two years ago. Toyota’s flagship SUV is nothing if not consistent. (A restored and modernized 1981 FJ43 Land Cruiser that we tested in recent months was slower than that but not nearly as slothlike as it would’ve been with its original powertrain.)

Passing performance improved by a tenth of a second, with this Land Cruiser scooting from 30 to 50 mph in 3.8 seconds and from 50 to 70 mph in 5.0 ticks. Such swiftness does come at a cost, and the Land Cruiser swills fuel as ravenously as Barney Gumble downs Duff beer. We saw 13 mpg over 1100 miles of driving, matching the EPA city rating, and averaged 17 mpg on our 75-mph fuel-economy test—1 mpg below the EPA highway estimate.

Despite its dastardly fuel economy, the Land Cruiser can travel far thanks to its 24.6-gallon fuel tank. That ought to please adventurers prone to getting away from civilization. Those taking the Land Cruiser off the beaten path will also appreciate the SUV’s automatically disconnecting anti-roll bars, hill-descent control, and numerous skid plates that protect the radiator, fuel tank, transfer case, and front-suspension components.

Less attuned to four-wheeling are the standard Dunlop Grandtrek AT23 tires. Although the all-season rubber lacks the knobby tread needed to properly tackle muddy trails and mountainsides, they helped this Land Cruiser stick to the tarmac around our 300-foot skidpad to the tune of 0.74 g and assisted in bringing it to a stop from 70 mph in 183 feet. Given that the last Mercedes-Benz G550we tested managed just 0.56 g and needed 191 feet to stop from 70 mph, the Toyota’s performance is impressive.

Even so, the Land Cruiser feels like a relic of the past when driven around town. Its light, disconnected steering demands that the driver thinks ahead before plotting any change of direction, its brake pedal feels as airy and fluffy as a freshly made croissant, and its body rolls like a skiff in a tsunami. If a three-row people carrier is all you’re after, then there are a number of alternatives that both handle better and cost thousands less than the $85,610 Land Cruiser.

This Toyota’s interior and its build quality live up to the rig’s high cost of entry, however. Items such as the door pulls and the power-window switches move with a weightiness that’s far beyond those of typical Toyota-badged products. Additionally, every Land Cruiser comes well equipped with features including LED headlights, a proximity key with push-button start, leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, four-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, and blind-spot monitoring. Our test truck’s only extra item was a $225 set of carpeted floor and cargo mats.

Too pricey to appeal to the Chevrolet Tahoe crowd and too mundane to drum up support from Cadillac Escalade fans, the Land Cruiser attracts a narrow audience in search of a luxury SUV with true off-road capability in an unassuming wrapper. It’s a small but loyal fan base that has helped keep this nameplate around for longer than most SUV shoppers have been alive, and we’re glad this Toyota continues to cruise on.

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