By Derek Price
What’s better than being able to drive anywhere you want, on or off the pavement?
Doing it in supreme luxury. That’s what.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the few vehicles designed to fulfill both missions equally well, feeling just at home on an African safari as on a drive to the symphony. The fact that it undertakes that transition so gracefully — going from off-road beast to on-road beauty — makes it one of the wonders of the automotive world.
Of course, that mind-bending capability comes at a price. It starts slightly under $80,000, or enough to buy a house in some places. That makes it the most expensive Toyota you can buy and, incidentally, more expensive than the vast majority of Lexus’ products.
What do you get for that money? Every luxury feature you could want, along with the capability to let you enjoy it far away from civilization.
The Land Cruiser comes standard with leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, four-zone climate control with a whopping 28 vents, push-button start, and even a cooler box integrated into the center console. It’s an SUV that makes you feel pampered before you’ve even checked an option box.
In fact, my fully loaded test vehicle had only one option on it: carpeted floor mats for $225. Why Toyota doesn’t throw in the mats as standard equipment on an $80,000 vehicle, I’ll never understand.
Even a navigation system and rear-seat DVD player come standard from the factory.
The Land Cruiser is about more than a long list of amenities to keep you comfortable, though. It’s also about having the off-road chops to get you across a desert, should the need arise, with a 5.7-liter V8 engine and brilliantly designed suspension system.
It feels tough and truck-like with 381 horsepower and a stout frame, and it can tow up to 8,200 pounds. Instead of buying both a pickup truck and a luxury car, this one vehicle can do both jobs, which helps to rationalize the price.
Still, there are two things I’d like to see improved.
One, the gray plastic trim to the left and right of the center instrument panel bugged me on my test car. It looks OK but feels a tad cheap on such a high-end, premium vehicle.
Two, the styling is starting to look dated to me, almost like a 1990s SUV. I’d prefer something that looks more sleek and modern, like the Land Rover Evoque, or — in the opposite direction — a retro look like Toyota’s FJ Cruiser once employed.
Still, I suspect a lot of Land Cruiser buyers like having the subdued styling. It’s a sumptuous, expensive luxury vehicle that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, letting you ride in extreme comfort and excess without raising too many eyebrows.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2014 Toyota Land Cruiser ($78,755). Options: Carpeted floor mats ($225). Price as tested (including $860 destination charge): $79,840
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Length: 194.9 in.
Width: 77.6 in.
Height: 74 in.
Engine: 5.7-liter 8-cylinder (381 horsepower, 401 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: 6-speed ECT automatic
Estimated Mileage: 13 city, 18 highway
2014 Toyota Land Cruiser
Why buy it?
Few vehicles offer this combination of high-end luxury and amazing off-road performance. It enjoys Toyota’s reputation of lasting forever.