There are some great, classic car names out there. The people who crafted those names did so to invoke images in your head. The Mustang makes me think of a wild, bucking
rear axle horse that needs to be tamed. The Skyline hammers home an image of twisting Japanese roads climbing through the clouds. When I read the name Land Cruiser, the idea of a person being able to spin a globe, stop it with their finger, and have a vehicle in their driveway that can take them there, is conjured up crisp and clear.
A sense of what is possible is important to me when looking at at a vehicle. I may never cross a large desert to rescue a kidnapped loved one, but if I had a Land Cruiser in the driveway I would know it would be possible should this situation arise. There is a low probability that I will need to ford a flooded stream in Vietnam to bring much needed supplies to local villagers, but I would feel comfortable with the knowledge that my Land Cruiser would be up to the task. The Toyota Land Cruiser has been in production since 1954 and entered into its 10th generation (the 200 Series) with a total redesign for the 2008 model year. Like most aging automaker staples it is bigger, heavier, and fitted with items to please a customer base looking more to please their neighbors than themselves. Is the intrepid explorer still hiding underneath the Sequoia-esque skin or has the 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser hung up its pith helmet?
The 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser is a full-size luxury SUV. It can seat eight passengers, has a four-zone climate control system, a 14-speaker audio system, and features a rear-seat DVD entertainment system which displays on a nine-inch ceiling mounted display. It’s also the most powerful Land Cruiser ever built. Under the hood sits a 5.7L V8 engine which produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. Peak torque occurs at 3,600 rpm with 90% of it available at just 2,200 rpm. The power is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission which utilizes a two-speed transfer case and full-time 4WD system with a Torsen locking center differential. This might just be a case of a beauty (interior comfort) who is also a 5,688 lb beast (capability).
Have you ever driven a boat? Then you have experienced the sensation of piloting a Land Cruiser. There is plenty of power on tap, but I have to stay alert so I know when to use it and when to get on the brakes. It doesn’t wallow as much as I thought it would and the overall ride is quite comfortable but there is no masking the size and weight. Regardless, acceleration feels surprisingly quick. So quick in fact, that the Land Cruiser can go from a standstill to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. A practically shocking figure since it is almost two seconds faster than the previous generation Land Cruiser.
The exterior styling may be straying from the straight-forward looks of generations prior but the running gear is there. Is it more important to drop a few visual pounds from the exterior curves or feel confident that this SUV isn’t afraid to play in the sand? The Land Cruiser is built on a global platform and it needs to perform in a wide range of climates. However, it is also a popular pick for the upper class set which uses it to traverse the Whole Foods parking lot and return safely home with a few cases of South African Pinotage. Like their taste in wine, their decision to handcuff a capable giant and relegate it to Point-A-Point-B servitude is disheartening. In short, it needs to be appealing to a wide audience and this is not an easy task.
The Land Cruiser’s adept mechanical features help mitigate hard terrain. However, the interior environment transforms a harsh journey into a pleasure cruise. From the power-adjustable and heated front seats back through the 2nd and third row, comfort is providing a course in Economics 101 – supply exceeds demand. If you removed the wheels and parked it in downtown Manhattan, you could rent it out as the Toyota Luxury Studio Cruiser. It’s roomy, comfortable, and has up to date technology in the form of bluetooth connectivity, voice-activated navigation, and a crisp, JBL Synthesis audio system.
In a world where products change to suit the needs of the buying public, some beloved automotive icons stray from their original paths. The 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser has bloated and bland exterior styling and can easily be mistaken for the less interesting Sequoia. However, it’s merely wearing an ill-fitting jogging suit while hiding the capable body just underneath. All that ability does come at a price though. The 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser starts at $65,970 and the one you see here will cost you $74,099. That is tons of money for what people will think is a standard grocery/kid hauler. It seems high but it makes sense to me. Stop looking at it like a run of the mill luxo-behemoth and peer into its soul. It can stare down Land Rovers and make them shake till something (inevitably) breaks. It can look at Jeeps and laugh at their minivan engines. This vehicle has heritage and though it is hard to see that in the current lines hiding the goods, it’s still there. Hopefully the 200-series Land Cruiser owner will understand what they have…a vehicle which can not only stir emotions with a name, but actually go out and traverse the planet.