5 Reasons to Take an $80,000 Land Cruiser Off-Roading
Toyota's $80K luxury SUV comes complete with such cushy comforts as a heated steering wheel and built-in drink cooler. While that may make it sound as soft and work-adverse as a doctor's wife, this well-tailored 4-wheeler is hiding it's inner badass: It's just as comfortable barreling through a rugged outback trail as it is chauffeuring you to a gallery opening.
Because we have the best job ever, we got a chance to test the Land Cruiser in everything from the rocky, soft-dirt Las Vegas desert to knee-deep fresh powder in Breckenridge—and while many who slide behind the wheel of an LC will never have the stones to let this leather-clad survival machine loose in terrain that would make your average SUV soil itself, we give you 5 reasons why you should unleash it on whatever snow, mud, dirt, or rocks that might be standing in your way.
1. It's Been Built For Off-Roading for 60 Years
Luxe touches aside, the Land Cruiser was first designed in 1953 as a basic 4WD utility vehicle. Despite the evolution of marketing which presents it as an upscale, 8-passenger sport utility, it still keeps its rugged, go-anywhere heritage. Plus it has a crap-ton of power.
Under the hood is a 5.7-liter, 381 horsepower V8 that delivers 401 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Ninety percent of that torque is available at just 2,200 rpm, which means it can tow just about anything you need behind it. Plus, you can make your buddy feel like a wuss when you pull his gas-sipping compact SUV out of a ditch.
For off-road stability, the LC is outfitted with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which allows the wheels on each axle to move with a larger degree of side-to-side independence. This minimizes wheel-lift when you're traversing rocks and uneven ground, keeping more rubber in contact with the terrain.
2. CRAWL Control
Driving through some rough, unfamiliar territory or a up seriously steep grade? Shift down into CRAWL mode. Once engaged, CRAWL's series of sensors tells the LC how to best handle the situation by actually taking control of the brake and throttle from you. Like a slow moving auto-pilot that can just focus on steering, while CRAWL calculates the optimum speed and brake pressure to use.
Once you get past the freaky, ghost-driven feeling of driving up a steep climb with your feet off the pedals, you'll never want to take on a snow-covered hill without it again.
3. Downhill Assist
Sometimes the descent is a hell of a lot hairier than the climb up. That's where Downhill Assist Control comes in. Designed to help the low-speed descending ability of the Land Cruiser, the DAC works just like CRAWL to help you keep the ideal speed down the hill without ever needing to tap a pedal.
We can tell you from experience that sitting in the driver's seat at the top of a 30-degree grade, feet planted on the floor fighting the urge to stomp on the brake pedal as this 5,700 pound monster edges its way down the hill, is a sphincter-clenching experience. However, it's a lot safer and more controlled than trying to slide your way down.
4. Multi-Terrain Monitor
Most times, a car with a big body has limited visibility, but the Land Cruiser has a Multi-Terrain Monitor system that has 4 cameras to give you a bird's eye view of the front, rear and sides of the vehicle. The 8-inch, high-res touchscreen shows you just how close you are to that drop off on the right, and tells you if there's actually solid ground on the other side of that rise you're climbing, before you drive off of it. So that's useful.
5. Seats 8 in Style, Keeps Your Drinks Cold
Sure, off-roading is all about being rugged, but there's nothing that says you have to play in the snow without a warm steering wheel, or that you shouldn't take 7 friends bouncing around a desert trail while drinks chill in the temperature controlled center console cooler. We're adventurers, not animals.