By KBB.com Editors
The 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser takes the best attributes from several different types of vehicles – luxury sedan, minivan, serious off-roader, full-sized pickup – and combines them to produce a comfortable, roomy and capable SUV. The flagship of Toyota's six-SUV fleet offers seating for eight, a 381-horsepower V8, full-time four-wheel drive, 8,500-pound towing capacity and new technology that gives it impressive ability off-road. However, its price and size have both ballooned. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz GL550 SUV, Land Rover Range Rover HSE, Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, though none exactly match the Land Cruiser's combination of power, seating capacity, towing capability and back-country performance.
Land Cruiser loyalists whose fortunes, desires and lifestyles have kept in step with the vehicle's increasing size, luxury and price will be attracted to this latest version. It will also appeal to those who demand opulent surroundings while carrying eight people, towing a heavy trailer or hauling a mound of gear.
Those who battle tight urban traffic or must cram into undersized suburban parking places may find the Land Cruiser a bit unwieldy. Also, its styling does not project the rugged image some seek in an SUV.
For 2009, privacy glass is added to the Land Cruiser's side and rear quarter windows.
Driving Impressions Thanks partially to its stiffened ladder frame, the Toyota Land Cruiser's ride comfort comes close to equaling that of many luxury sedans. Steering feel is precise and confidence-inspiring. Body roll...is much less than most other vehicles with similar off-road aptitude. It accelerates impressively from a stop despite its 5,690-pound curb weight. Its 381-horsepower V8 makes passing on two-lane roads easy. Still, it's a big vehicle and it feels like it. On two-lane highways, it seemed as if there was little space left between the outside mirrors and the centerline on the left and the edge of the road on the right. Parking and maneuvering in tight quarters was a challenge even with the sonar proximity warning system and rearview camera. The Land Cruiser shined in severe off-road exercises, which included climbing rock piles, traversing deep dirt moguls and descending a hill that in winter is a steep and difficult ski run.
The three-place center row seats offer fore/aft adjustment and are split 40/20/40. When combined with the 50/50-divided third row, they allow passengers to maximize legroom depending upon the number and size of those aboard.
Kinetic Driving Suspension System
During serious off-road driving, the new Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System maximizes suspension travel in order to keep the tires on the ground. Without it, a tire would hang uselessly over the valley between deep moguls when the suspension reached its limit of travel.
The 2009 Land Cruiser offers an expansive interior that can be configured to accommodate up to eight passengers, two people and a pile of gear or several combinations in between. Cargo space is somewhat lessened by the third-row seats that flip up and stow along the cargo bay's sides, rather then folding flush into the floor. Unlike many three-row SUVs, however, the rear-most seats can accommodate most adults, while the adjustable second row provides expansive legroom when the third row is vacant. The instrument panel, dash and console are awash with switches, gauges and displays; it will take owners some time to figure out what they all do. At least the speedometer is large and easy to read.Exterior
While many SUVs employ fender flares, aggressive grilles and various bulges to project a go-anywhere, tough-guy look, Toyota chose less-cluttered bodywork; when you're confident of your ability, you don't have to pretend. Besides, the Land Cruiser's already wide body leaves little space for fender flares. Though 2.4 inches longer than the previous generation, the Land Cruiser offers roughly the same ground clearance, both over level surfaces and when approaching, negotiating and clearing off-road obstacles.
Highlights of the Toyota Land Cruiser's standard features are full-length side-curtain airbags, which deploy in side impacts or rollovers. They account for two of its 10 airbags. To help prevent the need for airbags, the Land Cruiser has full-time four-wheel drive, vehicle stability control, four-wheel traction control and a new anti-lock brake system designed to produce shorter stops in snow, on sanded roads and off the pavement. A sonar system warns drivers of obstacles hidden close to the vehicle. The four-zone climate control system's 28 outlets should help all passengers stay comfortable. The Land Cruiser is available in one trim level.
A satellite navigation system and a rear-view camera top the list of options available for the 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser. The camera's image is projected on the navigation system's screen when reverse is selected. It's possible to get these separately or as part of the Upgrade Package, which bundles almost all of the Land Cruiser's optional equipment. Passengers on long road trips will appreciate the package's rear-seat entertainment system, which includes a nine-inch display, six-disc CD/DVD changer and jacks for audio and games, heated second-row seats and a refrigerated "cool box" in the center console.
The 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser's 5.7-liter double-overhead cam V8 produces 381 horsepower, up 116 from the previous 4.7-liter V8. Its 401 pound-feet of torque helps Land Cruiser tow trailers of up to 8,500-pounds, an increase of one ton. The new six-speed automatic transmission employs a very low first gear for strong acceleration away from stoplights and two overdrive gears for better fuel economy. The Land Cruiser's revised full-time four-wheel-drive system has a Torsen torque-sensing center differential that sends engine torque to the axle with the most traction.
381 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
401 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18
By gman (MO) on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Go anywhere, with 8 people, in comfort and style."
Cons: "Fill up often along the way."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned this truck for 3 years now and almost 80,000 care free miles. I call it a truck, not an SUV. Trucks are tough. Trucks can tow heavy loads safely. Trucks can be lifted (mine is, lifted 3") and run 33" tires and have 13" of clearance under the rear axel casing. Trucks have real four wheel drive systems. Trucks can have winches (mine does, thanks to the Austrian Outback). My point is, there are not many vehicles left in the world that can go from the highway to some of the roughest jeep trails in Colorado, hauling 8 people and doing it with comfort and quite. The Land Cruiser is truly remarkable because of it's versatility, on road and off. It looks big, but it's really not. Only 1.5" wider than a Jeep. Only 12" longer than the 4 Runner. With a lift kit and replacement bumpers from ARB, the LC can out do Jeeps in rocks and shelfs. It has a unique articulation sway bar that allows the LC to reach down and keep contact with the ground at low speeds, but prevents excessive sway on the road. There are also many modification kits available. Not as many as Jeep or the FJ, but the ones that are available make taking long haul trips across America and explore it's back country roads more enjoyable and safe. It's just too bad Toyota does not sell the Diesel version in the US. The gas milage is terrible."
8 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By A_E (AZ) on Monday, March 19, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, offroad capabilities, creature comforts"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"If you're obsessed with brands and bling then the Land Cruiser isn't for you. Spending $70K on a Toyota will make some people wince but you get what you pay for with the latest Land Cruiser. Living in Arizona this vehicle provides great flexibility, towing capacity, ability to transport 7 people and lots of creature comforts (Nav, DVD, keyless entry, Bluetooth, EXCEPTIONAL air conditioning and climate control, refrigerator built into the center console, etc.). But the real treat for those who like to go places that other vehicles won't take them is the Land Cruiser's ability to navigate rough terrain, ascend hills and provide great suspension. Again, if you want to showoff then go with a Mercedes, BMW, Porsche or other SUV that will get stuck in the mud. If you want a killer SUV and you're adventurous, then look into the Toyota Land Cruiser and start planning your camping, skiing, and other outdoor adventures!"
17 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Ray (FL) on Monday, January 16, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "One ogf the best cars I ever owned in my 54 yrs"
Cons: "Price and gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The ride is superb, very dependable, towing capacity is amazing, the inside is vey roomy. Is not very good in gas mileage but not bad compared to other big SUVs."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By TO on Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Was carried away with this when I test drove. Ride is excellent and power is fantastic. Very quiet and has performed exceptionally well in snow and light 4 wheeling. I feel the family is very safe. Has a few quirks, tranny is a bit jerky coming out of 1st, interior refinement could be better. Gas mileage is offensive. OVerall though we are pleased."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By EGC Review (Quezon City, Manila, Philippines) on Saturday, March 12, 2011
overall rating 7 of 10rating details
"Good seating capacity, decent towing capacity, and has three great features; its towing capacity, off road performance and the Crawl Control."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Trekker.1970 (Miami, Florida) on Tuesday, November 23, 2010
overall rating 8 of 10rating details
"Just got my third LC in 19 years. drove one '91 for 8 years (still running great, now it's my kid's car), a '99 (sold by itself, did not even need to offer it to anyone) and a 2011. I looked around, did research on other brands and each and every one has had its major flaws, from the low profile rims on the Range Rover to the puny suspension on the Q7. This car is worth every cent, great engine, comfy, stylish, excellent torque, with the addition of some really handy gadgets and more spacious seating - having 2 sons over 6'4" tall was another concern, not with the Land Cruiser. I'm up to my third and full of excitement."
14 people out of 14 found this review helpful