Once upon a time, SUVs were designed to go off road first and do everything else second. The main job of the Series Land Rovers and Jeep CJ line was to reach the world's most extreme places in the most difficult conditions. The fact that they could carry a bunch of people was a bonus.The evolution of the SUV came when more and more consumers fell in love with high-riding vehicles and companies realized they could make serious profits marketing and selling SUVs and car-based crossovers. With that, we got vehicles like the the Ford Explorer and Honda CR-V – products that delivered a high ride height and spacious interior, but offered limited off-road ability. Even the Land Rovers and Jeeps began to change, offering better driving dynamics, more cosseting rides, and improved fuel efficiency.The Toyota Land Cruiser, however, kicks it old school. Even though it's been freshened for 2016, it's an uncompromising reminder of what SUVs used to be; it's a flawed but utterly capable piece of engineering that will take you anywhere you can dream.Driving Notes Toyota's 5.7-liter V8 remains underhood, thumping away with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It's an old lump – electronic fuel injection is still used (not DI, like most modern cars), and it's a big, naturally aspirated engine. At 5,815 pounds, there are over 1,000 pounds of Land Crusher for every liter of V8, but that's not totally noticeable off the line. The engine delivers strong power – there are no flat spots in the linear torque curve. Throttle response is precise and easy to modulate, which is great for off-roading, where small, delicate inputs can have a big impact on the position of your vehicle. Oh, and it's worth mentioning that the 5.7-liter sounds suitably brawny under load. There's no artificial sound enhancement here. While the engine is an old-school bruiser, the 2016 Land Cruiser's new eight-speed automatic transmission is a far more modern item. This is Toyota's first in-house trans to use eight gears and feels even better than the Aisin eight-speed auto fitted to the Lexus lineup. This transmission is sharp and eager to upshift, but it's not as willing to move in the other direction. Still, the Land Cruiser's new transmission is a standout that we can't wait to see applied to other large Toyotas. Bad news? The two additional cogs have no impact on the meager fuel economy economy numbers, which remain pegged at 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 on the highway. Where Land Rover evolved its vehicles to the point that they deliver brilliant off-road performance and remarkable on-road poise and comfort, there's no such refinement in the Land Cruiser. It's brutish and clumsy when faced with a bend, and doesn't instill confidence at speed. It rolls too much too suddenly, and whether through the chassis or the light, numb steering, you're constantly aware of just how big and heavy a vehicle the LC is. Dig too hard into the throttle …
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|MPG||13 City / 18 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||381 @ 5600 rpm|
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