The 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser is powered by a new 5.7L V8, making 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. The aluminum-block engine is similar to that used in the new Tundra full-size pickup, with direct ignition, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, and variable-length intakes; it now runs on regular unleaded gas and meets ULEV-II emissions. It delivers power through a new six-speed automatic transmission with a flexible-lockup torque converter for smoothness. All Land Cruisers have full-time four-wheel drive, including a low range, limited slip rear differential, and a locking Torsen center differential.
A body-on-frame layout assures more long-term durability for the Land Cruiser than other unibody sport utility vehicles. In front, the suspension has been redesigned with a high-mount double-wishbone setup that's better for off-roading while not sacrificing on-road performance. In back there's a four-link coil-spring arrangement with a stabilizer bar. To provide a good mix of off-road ability and crisp handling on-road, there's a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which uses hydraulic cylinders to vary the suspension's stiffness as needed.
The Land Cruiser's interior has three rows of seating, for up to eight. For ease of entry to the third row, the second row on the passenger side has a one-touch tumble feature, and the second row adjusts about four inches fore and aft.
The Land Cruiser has ten air bags--the most in any Toyota vehicle--and all eight seating positions have three-point seatbelts. Multi-terrain anti-lock brakes, with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist, are standard along with the VSC stability control system. Hill-start assist control (HSC) is also included and helps keep the vehicle stationary when starting from a stop on a steep incline or slippery surface, as is downhill assist control (DAC), a feature designed to regulate a target speed down steep slopes while off-roading.
There's also a new feature called "Crawl Control." With the transfer case shifted to the low range, Crawl Control controls the throttle and brakes to maintain one of three speed settings ranging up to about 5 mph, allowing the driver to focus on steering around obstacles.
Throughout, the new Land Cruiser has more sound insulation to yield a much quieter interior, plus there's a new air-conditioning system that's both quieter and more effective. The climate system has a micro-dust and pollen filter and four zones and 28 air vents throughout the cabin.
The standard-features list on the Land Cruiser is surprisingly luxurious, including features such as a power moonroof, heated power seats, Smart Key keyless entry, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and a JBL sound system with six-disc in-dash CD/DVD changer and 14 speakers.
Major options include a DVD rear entertainment system, Bluetooth hands-free communication, a back-up camera, second-row heated seats, and a touch screen navigation system that also includes a backup monitor, headlamp washers, and Bluetooth.
The Toyota is firmly embedded in the off-road cultural zeitgeist. Since it first graced our shores in 1958, it's been a perennial favorite of go-anywhere adventure-seekers, and while the Land Cruiser has indeed grown more luxurious in its current, sixth-gen form, it's still every bit as capable when the going gets tough.
For the 2020 model year, the biggest news on the Land Cruiser front is this new Heritage Edition model, which features some welcome additions and deletes. For starters, the Cruiser's third row of seats has been removed to increase cargo space, which now swells from 16.1 cubic feet to 53.5 -- perfect for a travel fridge or large cooler.
Outside, the Land Cruiser's side steps have been removed for better ground clearance, and the chrome lower body side moldings have been nixed because, let's face it, they're just going to get scratched to hell anyway. A Yakima Megawarrior roof basket comes standard on the Heritage Edition, and I totally dig the bronze, 18-inch, forged aluminum wheels from BBS. A vintage Land Cruiser badge on the D-pillar rounds out the slightly updated look.
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