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2021 Toyota Land Cruiser delivers luxury from a humble beginning

By Craig And Deanne Conover - | May 8, 2021
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The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser

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The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser.

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The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser.

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The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser.

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The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Today’s Land Cruiser is way different from its humble beginnings back in 1951, and if truth be known, can trace its real origins back to World War II.

Back in 1941 when the Japanese army occupied the Philippines, they came across an old Bantam MK II Jeep and sent it back to the mainland wanting Toyota to come up with a similar light duty vehicle that could be used to further the war effort.

Later that same year the army asked Toyota to come up with a light duty truck that could get to places that other larger trucks could not, so they developed a version of this new Jeep-type vehicle but gave it more truck-like attributes.

Jumping ahead almost 10 years, the Korean War had started and Japan was still rebuilding from WWII, when the U.S. Army asked Toyota to make 100 actual Jeeps from the old Willy’s specs that were provided to them. Thus the original Land Cruiser was born from humble and also a somewhat controversial circumstance.

It was still three years until the name Land Cruiser was actually assigned to the new four-wheel-drive go-anywhere vehicle, and this coming after a prototype of the new vehicle was driven by a test driver to the sixth stage of the Mt. Fuji climb, higher than any previous vehicle had ever made it.

Moving ahead now some 70 years in history, we find that the Land Cruiser has become the longest-running nameplate in Toyota history and also has made itself into much more than just one of the top off-road vehicles to come around in that long history.

Today’s Land Cruiser is at the top of the Toyota food chain being not only one of its largest vehicles but also one of its most luxurious in the line. With a starting price of $85,815, we would totally expect that it would be loaded with comfort and style points to attract the types of buyer that are able to commit to this level of 4×4.

We have to be honest, after a week with the Toyota Land Cruiser we were definitely impressed and got very used to driving a full-sized SUV. To that point, getting in and out of tight spaces was a challenge in the Land Cruiser as it handled just like the large body-on-frame vehicle that it was.

Although there was space aplenty in the back of the large SUV and available seating for up to eight that would make any mom happy to have the entire neighborhood along for a ride, it will take a bolder more capable driver to get around with all the kids and their stuff.

The large SUV is, however, powered by a very capable 5.7-liter, V8-engine that gets 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque, and is rated to tow 8,500 pounds. A fact that we are sure that Toyota mechanics have confirmed after hearing how they spec out their trucks, we would expect nothing less from the top-of-the-line SUV. After our week with the Land Cruiser, we did find as expected that it was not going to win any mpg competitions anytime soon as we averaged just 15.5 mpg. The good news was the SUV did not demand the use of premium fuel.

Even though the Land Cruiser has become synonymous with luxury, the large SUV still packs a punch when it comes to going off road as Toyota has equipped it with every possible off-road option that the company has developed for its line of great 4×4’s. The CRAWL control will keep the 4×4 going very slow through automatic throttle control even in a steep descent so the driver can concentrate on steering the vehicle.

To help with that steering, there are now surround view cameras that can be activated at low speed so the driver can see directly in front and down both sides of the SUV making any obstacle easy to overcome. Also included is Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that helps to keep optimal traction no matter how uneven the terrain becomes. It will even disconnect the sway bars to allow for more wheel articulation to maintain even more traction. It’s a really cool four-wheel-drive system.

Inside, the Land Cruiser was loaded with all kinds of extras. There was leather all around the cabin, on the seats, doors and steering wheel with fine real wood and chrome accents. The front seats were both heated and cooled along with a heated steering wheel and even the second row came with adjustable heated seats.

On the climate control side, there is an included four-zone control that allows not only the front passengers to choose their cruising temperature but both occupants of the rear seats can also pick the perfect temperature through the use of 28 individual vents located throughout the cabin. On really cold days, the engineers have included what they call a Positive Temperature Coefficient heater that instantly warms the air as it is passed over an electric heated ceramic element, kind of like pushing the air through a blow dryer. No matter what it is called, it worked great getting the SUV up to temp very quickly.

Standard in the Land Cruiser is a 14-speaker JBL Synthesis sound system that is in a class all its own. With the cabin so quiet it was awesome to have a great sound system to go along with it.

The 9-inch touchscreen located in the center console of the dashboard made for easy access to all the controls we could have ever needed. Navigation is standard along with satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity. About the only fault we could find was there was no included fan speed control on the dash board — it had to be done through the climate control screen. Sometimes it is just easier to turn down the fan with the twist of a knob without having to navigate through a touchscreen.

All of the great Toyota safety features were also part of the standard package, of course, with blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and automatic high-beam headlamps and rain-sensing wipers.

The Toyota Land Cruiser is a great ride and will compete with any luxury SUV as well it should after so many wonderful years in the manufacturer’s lineup. It is a great family vehicle that will keep mom, dad and all the kids very happy all the time. We even doubt that the question are we there yet will ever even come up!

Base Price: $87,845

Price as Driven: $90,099


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