Ultimate Shuttle Rig: Land Cruiser Ups Lifestyle Ante Adding Luxe to Off-Road Chops


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What would a paddler pay for the pinnacle of off-road performance? Land Cruiser fanatics…get out your ATM card, pull out $84,000, and head to the local Yota dealership, because you’re gonna want to add this to your fleet — after you sell the dog, kids and house that is.

While the 200 Series LC we tested as our Ultimate Shuttle Rig gets no major upgrades next year in 2019 models, that’s actually a good thing, prolonging even further the famed resale value of Land Cruisers and Toyotas in general. The 1957 Land Cruiser, a bare utility machine, was among the first Toyota vehicles ever sold in the U.S. However, several years ago, domestic Land Cruiser sales started to slip, and fanatics felt they had shifted away from their core fan base, despite 60 years and millions of units sold in nearly 150 countries. But now, despite the price tag, fans are flocking back to the legendary Land Cruiser, and without boring you with everyone’s opinion on the matter (you can google the forums for that) there are many things that make the Land Cruiser still the most enviable and beautiful 4×4 out there.


Truth be told, this particular rig has a few too many bells and whistles for my personal liking, too many beeps and ding-a-lings, (not that I could afford one anyway on a journalists salary) but I suspect one would get used to it quickly, as most of these features are designed as safety measures and to enhance the day-to-day driving experience. It’s just not like the Land Cruisers of yesteryear…it has a much more luxurious appeal (leather seats, duh). Yet when you get it off road, enthusiasts say they drive just like the legacy Cruisers and handle in 4×4 in the same unique, unbreakable, smooth manner.

Among these advanced safety features, the 8-person SUV features the advanced Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) system as standard equipment. Using millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor, TSS-P is designed to detect a preceding pedestrian or a preceding vehicle, and can automatically apply braking if necessary to help mitigate or avoid collisions in certain conditions. TSS-P includes the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function; Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams. Updates for 2018 also include standard swing-away side mirrors that automatically activate when the vehicle is turned on/off (push button start).

The body-on-frame Land Cruiser can easily handle any number of boats on a roof rack or towing with its 381-horsepower 5.7-liter DOHC V8 engine. Equipped with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), the aluminum V8 produces 401 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. Its 8-speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) features manual control when needed, such as when descending steep inclines. The engine produces 90 percent of its peak torque at 2,200 rpm, making it an outstanding towing machine and the standard Trailer Towing Package equips it to pull a trailer up to 8,100 pounds. All the hardware needed for towing is standard, including an engine oil cooler, as well as a connector and sub-wiring harness for a trailer-brake controller. Trailer Sway Control uses Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) to help counteract trailer sway for a more relaxed towing experience. Like I said before, this is a luxury vehicle by any standard.

A key to the Land Cruiser’s off-road competence is suspension articulation, facilitated by long wheel travel. It’s aided by the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which hydraulically adjusts the lean resistance provided by the stabilizer bars, reducing it for off-road driving to help minimize any tendency for wheel lift.On pavement, where stabilizer bar function is beneficial for agility and safe control, KDSS enables the bars’ ability to work conventionally to help reduce body lean by as much as 50 percent. The system operates hydraulically, without the need for complex electronics. Skid plates help to protect the front suspension, radiator, fuel tank, and transfer case.

The Land Cruiser’s full-time 4WD system uses a TORSEN limited-slip locking center differential to distribute torque 40:60 front-to-rear. Should wheel slippage occur, the differential can direct more torque to the wheels with the best grip. Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) employs both brake and throttle intervention to help control wheel spin. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) helps maintain directional control during cornering. Land Cruiser’s Multi-terrain Select system allows the driver to match wheel slip control to the surface and driving conditions. In loose terrain, such as mud and sand, Multi-terrain Select allows more-than-normal wheel slip to help the Land Cruiser keep moving without digging itself in. A Mogul setting is effective for traversing extremely uneven terrain, such as V-ditches, slopes, and ridges; wheel slip is minimized and the system acts more like a limited slip differential. The shuttle driver can even see potential hazards with the Multi-Terrain Monitor with selectable front side or rear views. The system provides near 360-degree visibility and 5-second front undercarriage projected path video playback. In other words, this is serious off-road capability.

With the transfer case shifted into low range, the Land Cruiser’s CRAWL Control regulates engine speed and output, along with braking force, to propel the vehicle forward or reverse at one of five driver-selectable low-speed settings. CRAWL Control, when engaged, allows the driver to focus on steering without also having to modulate the throttle or brake pedals.

Two more systems provide additional assistance on the trails: Downhill Assist Control (DAC) can augment the low-range ratio’s low-speed descending ability by helping to hold the vehicle to a target speed with minimal driver intervention; and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) helps prevent nerve-wracking roll-back when stopping and then starting again on a steep incline or slippery surface. On narrow trails, the Land Cruiser can even make itself “smaller” with Off-Road Turn Assist, which tightens the turning radius by applying slight brake pressure to the inside rear wheel, creating a pivot effect. Again, high tech off road at its finest.

All 8 seating positions have 3-point seatbelts, and Land Cruiser features 10 airbags: driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System; driver and front passenger knee airbags; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, second-row outboard seat-mounted side airbags and three-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags.

Active headrests on the driver and front passenger seats move up and forward almost instantly in the event of certain rear-end collisions to help reduce the distance between the occupant’s head and the headrest. The advanced seatbelt system is designed to retract the front seatbelts when the brakes are suddenly applied or when the VSC system detects tire slippage.

Land Cruiser is only offered in one trim level – fully equipped. Let us know when you get yours, because we would really love to go for another ride!


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