Like anyone else who's been around for 60 years, the Toyota Land Cruiser has put on weight and girth over the years. Also like some 60 year-olds we've met, the big Toyota has just gone under the knife for cosmetic upgrades and hit the gym to keep the muscles toned.
Set to debut this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the latest Land Cruiser gets fresh styling that pulls it in line with the latest Highlander and upcoming new 4Runner. The new body rides atop an 11-percent stiffer frame with insulating mounts soaking up noise and vibration. The UK market goes diesel-only with the D-4D underhood, while a 4.0-liter V6 burns gas for other European markets. With the new diesel, Toyota's claiming best-in-class fuel economy and a 4.5 percent improvement over the current Land Cruiser's carbon emissions figures.
While many Land Cruisers don't venture into the woods, Toyota has upped the capabilities of its SUV. The suspension now sports active roll bars as well as Adaptive Variable Suspension that lets drivers twiddle damper settings and provides self leveling and height control. Tip-toeing into the bog might be easier with a Land Rover-like Multi Terrain Select system that adjusts the Land Cruiser's dynamic responses for different surfaces, and four cameras send images from around the vehicle back to the bridge so the driver can see what's going on. A crawl function and a steering angle display are also parts of the off-road arsenal.
Like the ersatz Range Rover the LC has become, Toyota paid attention to the interior of its latest effort too. Three rows of seats have places for seven backsides, and legroom for second-row passengers is way up. The rearmost seats hide away for a flat load floor and a refrigerator is available for the center console, handy for provisioning if you plan to get stuck. All sorts of electronics and entertainment systems are also baked into the Land Cruiser, from navigation to a 605 Watt audio system with hard drive.
Looking at all the features, technology and sheer amount of STUFF in the new Land Cruiser, it sure has matured from its start back at the beginning of the baby boom. Like that generation, it refuses to quit, but at least it keeps getting better.