2009 Toyota Land Cruiser: Serious Off-Roading Capability and Comfort!
The Toyota Land Cruiser is among the few vehicles on the market with serious off-road capability, towing capability and people-hauling capability.
2009 Full Review
The Land Cruiser seats up to eight people. The 2009 Land Cruiser looks pretty much the same as Land Cruisers have looked for years, but in fact the Land Cruiser was completely redesigned and re-engineered for 2008. More than just all-weather, the Land Cruiser offers legitimate all-terrain capability. All Land Cruisers are built in small volumes in Japan. As a result, the Land Cruiser's reputation for durability and long-term value is likely to be continued. Used Land Cruisers are scarce and command high prices.
Trims and 2009 Styling
The 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser ($64,755) comes standard with: leather upholstery; CFC-free automatic climate control and independent automatic rear climate control system; four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio, telephone and voice recognition controls; power tilt and telescopic steering wheel with memory; power door locks and windows, including power rear quarter windows; Smart Key keyless entry; HomeLink; variable intermittent front and rear wipers and washers; cruise control, 12 cup holders; combination meter with Optitron electroluminescent instrumentation; JBL 605-watt AM/FM/6CD/MP3/WMA system with auxiliary mini-jack and 14 speakers; tilt/slide power glass moonroof with sunshade and one-touch open/close operation with jam protection; auto-dimming rear view mirror with compass; multi-information display; rear window defogger; digital outside temperature display; Intuitive Park Assist (back-up sonar). Standard seating arrangements include 10-way driver and eight-way front passenger power-adjustable heated leather trimmed seats and adjustable headrests; tumble, foldable and reclining 40/20/40 three-section split second row seat with fore/aft slide and three-point seatbelts; folding 50/50 third row seat with headrest and three-point seatbelts on all three seating positions. Privacy glass has been added for 2009, for the rear door windows and rear quarter windows.
Options include a touch-screen DVD navigation system with eight-inch display ($3,400), which integrates the standard audio system and climate control, plus a back-up camera and Bluetooth; the Upgrade Package ($7,245), which comprises all of the navigation package content plus simulated wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, pre-collision system, rear seat entertainment, cool box, second-row seat heaters, rear spoiler and headlight cleaners. A rear spoiler ($200) is optional.
Safety features that come standard include multi-terrain ABS with Electronic Brake Force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist; VSC electronic stability control with cutoff switch; Active Traction Control (A-TRAC); dual-stage advanced airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and front knee airbags for driver and front passenger; second-row seat-mounted side airbags; three-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags with roll-sensing cutoff switch; tire-pressure monitoring system.
The Toyota Land Cruiser, with its upright bodywork and wide, flat hood, is unmistakably linked to the historic Land Cruiser line. Called Land Cruiser 200 internally, it was all-new for 2008. The exterior design retains the traditional distinct flare on the front fenders, horizontal four-slotted grille and rear liftgate of the previous-generation Land Cruiser. The effect is to replace dated styling cues with contemporary design, without stepping outside of the Land Cruiser lineage. There is no bling factor in the Land Cruiser design, which is solid, stable and grounded in every sense of the word.
2009 Interior Styling and Features
Front-row seats are medium-firm, supportive and highly adjustable. The driver's seat has 10-way adjustability with power lumbar support, and the steering wheel itself has power tilt and telescopic adjustments with generous range. Second-row seating is comfortable and well appointed.
The air conditioning system was designed to supply four climate control zones with 28 vents located throughout the cabin. The fan has seven speeds.
With the optional navigation system, which we had on our test unit, the audio system is controlled via the eight-inch navigation touch screen. The optional nine-inch LCD rear-seat entertainment system plays DVDs and has audio/video jacks for video games.
2009 First Drive
To drive a Land Cruiser is to feel secure and in command. Especially on long trips, the Land Cruiser is relaxing to drive.
In everyday driving, the Land Cruiser feels and behaves just like any other well appointed, full-size SUV. Driver's seating is generous and relaxing. On the highway, the Land Cruiser offers sharp handling (for an SUV) and a secure environment. Toyota has incorporated the latest variable valve timing technology, cam lobe design, and intake manifold tuning to optimize the engine for power output, fuel economy and reduced emissions. Like any good truck engine, the 5.7-liter makes more torque (401 pound-feet) than horsepower, allowing the Land Cruiser to loaf around at low rpm and still offer ready throttle response.
While the Land Cruiser is a full-time 4WD truck, with a nominal torque bias of 40/60 front/rear, it drives and feels more like a rear-wheel-drive vehicle in normal conditions, with stable tracking and light, easy steering with no apparent torque steer. Should front wheels begin to slip, up to 70 percent of engine torque can be instantly biased to the rear. We did not encounter these kinds of conditions on our summer-day test drive, but our experience is that these types of drive-system transitions can be routinely handled by modern 4WD systems without most drivers taking notice.
Pedal travel allows for a slight squish before the brakes begin to grip, at which point large calipers progressively haul down the Land Cruiser's 5800 pounds with minimal effort. The ABS also works on non-paved surfaces, and the brakes are improved by Toyota's Brake Force Distribution (an anti-spinout technology) and Brake Assist (shortens distances in panic stops).
And for those moments when push does come to shove, the Land Cruiser lives up to the capability requirements of a traditional, authentic four-wheel-drive truck.
We had the opportunity to drive the new Land Cruiser on challenging off-highway trails. One part, a breathtakingly steep, 300-foot downhill plunge across fractured shale, allowed for a test of electronic enhancements that control speed and stability. No braking is needed; the driver simply steers the vehicle.
Other reasons why a Land Cruiser excels in rough terrain are more fundamental. In Low range, there is the firm throttle response of torque on demand, but the throttle is not touchy at low speeds. The full-time 4WD system has a generous low range ratio of 2.618 to 1, and a locking center differential that can be engaged in high range or low range. Between the low gearing, the Torsen center differential, the variable-roll-stiffness suspension and large tires, the Land Cruiser's design envelope offers the ability to get to any rational destination, regardless of conditions.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is distinguished by a rare mix of effortless highway performance, everyday comfort, and authentic, industrial-strength four-wheel-drive capability. "The 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser may cost a pretty penny, but its combination of impressive off-road ability and on-road comfort is rare." says Edmunds "For discerning consumers who yearn for a refined on-road vehicle that can roll up its pants and wade into the muck at will, the Land Cruiser in many ways is more fulfilling of that promise than a Land Rover product." adds Fort Worth Star-Telegram It's built for those willing to pay for a very broad range of operating capabilities, more costly to buy, but you get what you pay for.