Improving the new Toyota Land Cruiser

I recently reviewed the 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser. While I really liked it, and I would love to own one, but it just wasn’t all it could be for me. To be totally happy with my imaginary Land Cruiser ownership I would have to improve it slightly. Despite the limited U.S. sales of this vehicle, it is a global vehicle and therefore it’s total sales are justifiably high for the after-market to offer some amazing things for it. 
Being that I am married and have two kids, my built would not be a crazy hardcore one. I don’t need my rig to get me everywhere and I wouldn’t live off-the grid for days at a time in it. It would serve to get us to scenic places on trails that are no more than difficulty 5 or 6 rating.  Here is how I’d modify my 2017 Land Cruiser…

I don’t know why but Toyota chooses to put one of the worst highway tires on a lot of their trucks. The Dunlop Grandtrek AT23 get poor reviews from In my personal experience, I got stuck in four inches on snow with these tires on a 2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail. Low-gear, locked rear diff, snow mode, none of that shit helped when all four wheels were spinning and the truck wasn’t moving. 
The most obvious tire choice is the BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2. I have them on my own 4Runner and they are just amazing. Full review to come soon. I would retain the stock 18″ wheels and perhaps add spacers just for looks. 

Along with the tires, which would be one size bigger, 33-inch, I would go with a mild lift. The Land Cruisers have just shy of nine inches of ground clearance. Further, the bumpers and mudflaps get in the way of things that the LC is suppose to easily hop over, such as snow banks, as per my own experience.
ARB and its suspension sub-brand, Old Man Emu (OME), have a great reputation for their custom suspension systems. They offer a range of springs which lift the vehicle from one to three inches. The spring you choose depends of how much weight you’d be adding on to your rig. I’d opt for for a mild 2″ spring as that would nicely clear the larger tires and add ground clearance.
I’d match the springs with the ARB Nitrocharger shocks. When lifting or lowering your car, always match your shocks to your springs or things will suck. 
This combination will also do one more thing – get rid of the Toyota chassis dive. Every body-on-frame Toyota I have driven has a weird body dive when the vehicle comes to a complete stop. You can learn how to modulate the brake pedal to reduce it but it’s always there. I don’t get it. A good suspension system will remove or at least reduce it. 

Yes, they look super cool, but let’s be honest, an off-road bumper is only necessary when heavy off-roading is involved. The kind of off-roading where additional front clearance is needed. Ability to add a winch for those hardcore excursions is nice, too. I would get one even thought I don’t think I would really ever need one. Because they look cool. 
Here once again I would go ARB and their Summit Bar. They have been making these bumpers forever and they are known to fit well and last a long time. Most importantly, they are the only bumper supplier, to my knowledge, that works with the vehicle airbag system. I’d have it powder-coated to match the color of my imaginary Land Cruiser, which is classic silver. 

This bumper is designed to work with a line of Warn winches and the M8000-S winch is perfect for this application. Can’t forget about tow straps, recovery points, cable dampener, a hi-lift jack, and snatch blocks. And a good pair of gloves. And a breaker bar with a proper socket for the lug-nuts, as the factory wrench may suck. 

I would add some off-road lights, because why the hell not. I’d go with some round long-range LED spot-lights like the ones pictured, either from ARB or Rigid Industries. I’d need to do more research on exactly which ones. ARB fog-lights come with the bumper and I’d utilize factory wiring for those. The factory LED headlights, both low- and high-beams, are surprisingly good on the Land Cruiser. 

Side protection, in my opinion, is more important than undercarriage protection. Where the undercarriage protection only works off-road, side protection, typically known as rock sliders, can easy reduce the side impact damage to the vehicle in a road accident. Many rock sliders also work as a steps, which is good for the kids. Proper rock sliders will attached to the frame and will be strong enough to use as a jacking point. I went with Slee Off-Road for my 4Runner but there are many to choose from. 
As much as people say that skid-plates are needed, I personally put them in the hardcore off-road category. The first reason is the the vehicle already comes with them. They’re not as strong as the after-market but they’re not as heavy, either. Further, the need for those can be avoided by proper trail selection and careful driving. Yes, it’s nice to have them when needed…
ARB also offers side fender protection tubes. Those connect between the front pull-bar and the rock sliders. The idea is that when running over a tree brunch, it would take the potential impact of the fender. I’d skip on those as should most people. 

One of the off-road tools notably absent on the new Land Cruisers are front and rear locking differentials, which is a shame. Here ARB comes to the rescue again with their front and rear air-lockers. To properly operate them, an air compressor is needed. ARB offers three compressors, the smallest of which is designed for locking differentials only. But what’s the point of having an air compressor if you can’t use it to inflate tires? 
I would opt for ARB’s CKMTA12 twin on-board compressor kit. It’s the best one they have and is designed to inflate a 35″ tire in less than a minute and run air tools. In real life, I am considering ARB’s smaller, CKSA12, for my 4Runner, because in real life money matters. Both compressors can be installed inside the car or under the hood. Yes, they’re relatively pricey but I haven’t seen anyone say a bad thing about them yet. 

Things that I would skip:

  • A snorkel – Whatever vehicle I am in, I would never ford water so deep that it would require a snorkel. By the time the snorkel would actually be practical, I would have water over the ignition system, which would kill the engine (unless it’s a diesel) and inside. No thanks. If I am ever at that point in my off-roading, I’ll just park and hike. Again, that’s just me. 
  • Huge safari roof rack – Yea, they look cool but they’re not. Often, but not always, they make noise. They always kill your already crappy gas mileage, too. Things attached to them cannot be secured from theft, at least not easily. If I needed more cargo space I would just add a huge Thule or Yakima box to the faculty roof-rails. Their maximum loading is not high but I wouldn’t put a heavy loads on the roof anyway. The exception here is the use of a rack as platform for a tent, which sounds cool, but I prefer conventional tents. 
  • Big rear bumper – Those are often required for a spare tire and extra gas cans. My new tires would be just one size bigger, so the spare would fit neatly in its stock location. And I wouldn’t plan to venture off so far where I wouldn’t be able to get back to the main road easily. On a full tank, the Land Cruiser should go 300 miles even at its worst. These wheel and tank attachments also make opening of the tailgate more annoying. ARB has a large fuel tank option in place of the factory tank if the need arises. 

That’s it, that’s my dreamy 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser. Now back to realty, which is my 2010 Toyota 4Runner. 

It should be noted that Toyota themselves recently pimped out their Land Cruiser to appeal to people like me but with more money. Their rig had a front leveling kit, snorkel (of course), a light bar (of course), bigger wheels (not needed), proper tires, and some one-off side steps and brush guard. And a roof pack, of course. 
This SEMA vehicle showed that Toyota actually understands its customers. While they offer the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra in TRD Pro trims, which are very cool looking and have all the features many people want, no such thing is available for the Land Cruiser. And that’s a shame in my opinion. 

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2 responses to “Improving the new Toyota Land Cruiser”

  1. outback_ute Avatar

    The reason most off-roaders have bull bars in Australia is because of animal strikes, although the white one shown without the upper bars is a legit off road bumper I suppose. I’ve never seen one like the last picture; I’d suggest you would get laughed at! And a snorkel is just as often used to get cleaner air, especially when traveling in a group. It’s not hard to do a lot of driving on dirt roads in this country.
    One of the first off-road mods for a Land Cruiser (actually third or fourth really) is getting the spare tyre out from under the vehicle where it compromises clearance. It is a sign that the LC is less hardcore that the second fuel tank is smaller than previously. The rear bumper would also increase clearance significantly versus the stock item to complement the front and the lift.
    Another thing worth considering if carrying large chunks of steel (recovery gear) is securing the load, eg a cargo barrier.

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      Right, I showed the white one more for its lights.

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