With its standard eight-passenger seating and genuine off-road capability, the 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is an anomaly among full-size luxury SUVs. Few, if any, three-row rivals share the Cruiser’s proclivity for bouncing around in the dirt. If you’re not planning to use these abilities to their fullest, however, Toyota‘s iconic rig loses much of its luster. In the mundane world of shopping malls and soccer practice, the 2015 Land Cruiser generally comes up short by current segment standards.
To be fair, the Land Cruiser’s smooth, easy ride makes it pretty agreeable for urban adventures. If your dream is to power through potholes with barely a ripple from below, the Cruiser’s long-travel suspension has got you covered. But the big V8 engine under the hood returns a sobering 15 mpg combined, and acceleration is just average. Inside, the Land Cruiser disappoints with a dated infotainment system and a cramped third-row seat that doesn’t fold into the floor to maximize cargo space.
If there’s one rival that throws the Land Cruiser’s shortcomings into relief, it’s the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, which has a considerably lower starting price, superior powertrains, a roomy third row and a more premium vibe, lacking only the Toyota’s trail-busting toughness. Another option is the 2015 Infiniti QX80, which feels more agile on the road, and it also brings distinctive styling to the table. If a leather-lined American workhorse appeals, the redesigned 2015 GMC Yukon Denali and its uptown sibling, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade, are more luxurious than ever. Another intriguing alternative is the 2015 Land Rover LR4, which beats the Land Cruiser at its own game with the lowest base price of the bunch, decidedly upscale appointments and formidable all-terrain talents.
Undeniably, the 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is a remarkably refined and capable vehicle. If your idea of a great family vacation involves extensive off-road driving, the 2015 Land Cruiser will still serve you better than almost any other luxury SUV. But in just about every other area, the Land Cruiser leaves us underwhelmed.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is an eight-passenger SUV available in a single, fully loaded trim level.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlamps with LED running lights, foglights, auto-dimming and power-folding heated mirrors, automatic wipers, privacy glass, a roof rack, a rear spoiler, running boards, a sunroof, LED taillights and keyless entry and ignition.
Interior features include four-zone automatic climate control with separate second-row controls and third-row vents, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with leather and wood trim, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats (10-way driver, eight-way passenger), driver memory settings, heated 40/20/40-split second-row seats (sliding and reclining), 50/50-split third-row seats that fold up to either side of the cargo area and a center console cooler box.
Standard technology features include adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, a “multi-terrain monitor” off-road camera system (with selectable front, side or rear views), front and rear parking sensors, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rear-seat DVD 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.
No factory options are offered on the 2015 Land Cruiser.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 that cranks out 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive are standard. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg combined (13 city/18 highway).
The Land Cruiser also features a locking center differential, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (which electronically modulates the stabilizer bars for improved on-road handling and off-road capability), Multi-Terrain Select (which tailors the stability and traction control settings to specific surfaces), a five-speed crawl control (essentially a low-speed off-road cruise control), hill-start assist, and Off-Road Turn Assist (which applies brakes to the inside wheels in a corner to improve turning response).
In Edmunds performance testing, the Toyota Land Cruiser went from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, a respectable performance for this segment. Maximum towing capacity for the Land Cruiser is a hefty 8,200 pounds.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser include antilock brakes, trailer-sway control, hill-start assist, stability and traction control, parking sensors, front knee airbags, front- and second-row side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is also standard, along with a basic forward collision mitigation system that primes the seatbelts and brakes for action if an impact is deemed imminent.
Every Land Cruiser is equipped with Toyota’s Safety Connect system, which includes automatic collision notification, on-demand roadside assistance and a stolen vehicle locator.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2015 Land Cruiser’s interior is as refined as Toyota gets, with quality materials and what appears to be careful construction. But what you get here isn’t quite up to luxury-level status, at least compared to what you’ll find in a Land Rover or Mercedes rival. And while the cabin has seating for eight, the third row is best for kids due to its low, flat bottom cushions, which impose an uncomfortable knees-up seating position on larger passengers. Second-row occupants get significantly more space and heated seats that slide and recline.
With the third row in place, the cargo area measures 16.1 cubic feet. That’s about the same capacity as a midsize car’s trunk, but it’s actually less useful, because half of those 16 cubes are between the rear seatbacks and the ceiling. When not in use, the 50/50-split third-row seats swing up against the sides of the cargo bay, where they needlessly consume space. Partly for this reason, maximum capacity with both rear rows folded is just 82 cubic feet: a small number for such a large vehicle.
On the technology front, the Land Cruiser’s Entune smartphone app integration is a welcome standard feature, providing access to popular apps like Pandora and OpenTable. The 8-inch touchscreen could use improvement, though, as its graphics and menu structure are outdated, and its lack of a console-mounted controller may put it at a perceived disadvantage versus rivals like the GL-Class. In brighter news, the multiview off-road camera system is just plain cool, and the standard rear-seat DVD entertainment system should prove useful on those long family road trips.
The 2015 Land Cruiser rides smoothly and serenely over paved roads, obediently soaking up bumps like the luxury liner it is. Cabin noise is minimal, and the only time the powertrain becomes audible is at full acceleration, when the 5.7-liter V8 emits a civilized rumble. We wouldn’t mind a little more thrust, however. Although this engine is plenty powerful on its own merits, the latest turbocharged GL-Class models have raised the bar substantially, making the Toyota’s 15-mpg efficiency harder to swallow.
We’ve put the current Land Cruiser through its paces in the dirt, and we can confirm that it’s still the boss. Much of its prowess comes from the standard high-tech driving aids — you just pick your terrain type, dial in the desired speed (as low as 1 mph) and focus solely on steering, letting the Cruiser’s crawl-control system do everything else.