What's New for 2013
After a one-year hiatus (there was no 2012 model), the Toyota Land Cruiser returns with slight exterior and interior enhancements for 2013. Most notably, all of the Land Cruiser's previously optional features are now standard -- a change that comes with a commensurately higher price.
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser comes standard with everything this year. Previous options like rear-seat entertainment, navigation, heated and cooled seats -- you name it, it's got it. Of course, this $78,000, eight-passenger SUV with go-anywhere four-wheel-drive capability might not seem to be the kind of simple, user-friendly Toyota to which you're accustomed, but actually it's the kind of vehicle that every Toyota aspires to be. It goes everywhere, does everything, yet never shows off. †The Land Cruiser is like an Omega Seamaster wristwatch in a discount-store Timex case.
Since the introduction of the FJ40 in 1960, the Land Cruiser has assumed the kind of cult status that parallels other 4x4 legends from Jeep and Land Rover. Like those icons, the Land Cruiser has always gone places normal vehicles can't tackle and, not surprisingly, the Toyota is also heralded as the most reliable in this exclusive group.
Obviously, the Land Cruiser's high-end features are relatively new. Big game hunters cruising through Botswana in 1978 probably weren't watching The Spy Who Loved Me from a reclining rear seat. But just as Land Rover has moved upmarket over the years, so too, has the Land Cruiser. The 2013 Land Cruiser features items that automatically set the truck up for specific kinds of terrain, alter the stiffness of the stabilizer bars (more body control for pavement, less for off-road) and take control of the accelerator and brakes during slow, hair-raising off-road maneuvers.
To rational car shoppers, the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser offers limited appeal. Many less expensive crossovers work better for daily use, such as the Buick Enclave or Infiniti JX35. If you need towing power, there's Toyota's own Sequoia, or the Land Cruiser's twin, the Lexus LX 570, which isn't that much more expensive now. And if it's an apples-to-apples competitor you want, the Land Rover LR4 offers excellent off-roading capability and a more luxurious, spacious cabin. It's also cheaper (though far less reliable).
But you don't need to be rational to appreciate the Land Cruiser's considerable ability. Whether on a Toyota dealer lot or out on the road, the Land Cruiser is a legend. And that alone is enough to guarantee its appeal.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser is an eight-passenger SUV available in a single, fully loaded trim level.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, automatic xenon headlamps, foglamps, automatic wipers, privacy glass, a roof rack, a sunroof and keyless ignition/entry. Interior features include four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated power front seats (10-way driver, eight-way passenger), a heated 40/20/40-split second row (sliding, reclining, folding), leather upholstery, a wood-trimmed power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a center console cooler box.
Standard electronic features include adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications, a navigation system, a touchscreen interface, voice control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rear-seat entertainment system and Toyota's Entune suite of smartphone app-based services. The 14-speaker JBL sound system includes a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser comes with a 5.7-liter V8 good for 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic and a full-time four-wheel-drive system are standard. The maximum towing capacity is 8,500 pounds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined.
Besides four-wheel drive, the Land Cruiser comes standard with a locking center differential, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (adjusts the stabilizer bars for improved on-road handling and off-road capability), Multi-Terrain Select (adjusts the stability and traction control based on different road surfaces), a five-speed crawl control (essentially a low-speed off-road cruise control), hill-start assist (prevents rolling back on hills) and Off-Road Turn Assist (applies brakes to the wheels on the inside in a corner to improve turning response).
In Edmunds performance testing, the similar Lexus LX 570 went from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is quick for an SUV of its size and weight.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front- and second-row side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Also standard is the Lexus Safety Connect system, which includes automatic collision notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency assistance button and a stolen vehicle locator.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Land Cruiser's interior is as refined as a Toyota gets, with high-quality materials and excellent fit and finish. It doesn't quite match its Lexus twin, but certainly comes close. For 2013, the dash eliminates several audio system buttons for a slightly cleaner look, but some may find it complicates functionality.
The cabin can accommodate eight passengers, though the third row really only suits kids because of the flat seat bottom and high floor. Access to the third row is eased via a one-touch tumble-forward second-row seat. Middle-row occupants fare better with more space, a rear-seat entertainment system and a heated seat that slides and reclines.
With the rear seats in place, cargo space is 16 cubic feet. That's about the same capacity as a midsize car's trunk, but ultimately less useful since the Land Cruiser's space is vertical rather than horizontal. The third-row seats do not fold down, nor are they removable. Instead, they fold up against the sides of the cargo bay and still consume space. Consequently, the Cruiser's maximum cargo capacity is modest at 82 cubic feet, a relatively small figure for a large SUV.
As with previous Toyota Land Cruisers, the 2013 model has excellent off-road capability and still delivers a thoroughly comfortable ride on urban streets. It is also a technological tour de force. When exploring the untamed wilds, high-tech features like Multi-Terrain Select and crawl control take much of the worry out of the hands (or feet) of the driver. Just select what type of terrain you're driving on, then dial in the desired speed (as low as 1 mph), keep your feet off the gas and brake pedals and steer in the desired direction.
In the more maddening wilds of the urban jungle, the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser behaves like the civilized luxury SUV it's intended to be, soaking up bumps with composure and insulating driver and passengers from the outside world. On a mountain road en route to the ski slopes, the Land Cruiser remains relatively flat through corners, the KDSS active antiroll bars helping the heavy SUV feel surprisingly confident. Performance is also strong, with the 5.7-liter V8 furnishing plenty of thrust for passing, towing or effortless freeway cruising -- at the expense of fuel economy, of course.