Short Take Road Test: 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2014.
By Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver
Toyota’s Land Cruiser is reborn for 2008, and given the rawhide-bound reputation for sinew and stamina that the previous six generations earned over tough terrain in the previous century, you’d hardly expect this redo to be all remote and aloof to the driver, like some SUV simulator. Make that a simulator with 10 airbags, including side curtains for three rows of passengers, not to mention acres of interior leather.
Still, this is the Lexus company.
The Cruiser remains a traditional body-on-frame truck with a rigid axle in back. External bulk has been upsized a bit—2.4 inches in length and 1.2 in beam—but it remains a trim package: 7.1 inches shorter than a Chevrolet Tahoe, 1.4 narrower, and about three inches lower. Three rows of seats are standard.
Like the Tahoe, the Cruiser is a step-way-up sort of SUV in which you sit high, well above the cowl and window sills. The glass area feels big, the view panoramic. The seats are thrones.
Layers of insulation and isolation cloak the machinery, in no small part to justify a $6985 jump in its base price to $63,885. Electronic interventions await behind numerous dashboard controls. KDSS is Toyota’s way of softening roll stiffness, so essential for on-road comfort, so it doesn’t throw your head against the side glass when you take to the boonies. CRAWL is a computer program that manages off-road throttle and brake modulation according to your choice of ooze, creep, or slink settings. Of course, the all-wheel-drive system has traction control, and the transfer case shifts into low range at the click of a rotary knob on the dash. Gizmos and abbreviations abound (HAC, VSC, EBD, A-TRAC, DAC), as they do on the other gilt-edge SUVs. Mom can set out for Buffy’s day school with utter confidence.
The 5.7-liter V-8 and the six-speed automatic are shared with the Tundra pickup, where they serve as the top option. Output is a velvety 381 horsepower, giving the 5900-pound Cruiser an active lifestyle—read “0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds.” Expect hushed transit. Expect unflappable nonchalance over acned asphalt.
This is an eight-passenger hauler, with belts for three in the 40/20/40-split second row and 50/50-split third row. Second-row accommodations are generous except for the tight toe clearance under the fronts. Moreover, this seat does a low-effort tumble to give access to the third row. But entry is a jungle-gym climb, and once you arrive—typical of SUVs with rigid rear axles—the cushion is barely off the floor. There’s no place to park your Nike Airs, either.
The two-part liftgate is split into a swing-up upper and drop-down lower. The latter releases with a lever on the clean side of the seal, avoiding dusty fingers. You get 16 cubic feet behind the third row, or increase that to 43 cubic feet by swinging up each half of that seat against the compartment sides. The moving parts are slick, making the job much easier than it sounds.
The Land Cruiser is all dressed for town now, leaving the rawhide and roughnecking to lesser Toyotas. You could still take it to hell and back, but at $71,130 as tested, you probably wouldn’t.
C/D TEST RESULTS: