Toyota's Land Cruiser has always been exceptionally solid and more competent off-road than most, but it has been left behind in the sudden popularity of full-size sport-utility vehicles--literally and figuratively. Why is this? Well, Land Cruisers don't come cheap. You pay a premium price for standard full-time four-wheel drive, locking differentials, plentiful ground clearance, and meticulous construction. But another key disparity between the Land Cruiser and domestic full-size entries like the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Ford Expedition has been power. The Cruiser's old 4.5-liter inline 6-cylinder engine was robust, but it lacked the grunt of the V8s offered by Ford and General Motors. The premium price remains, but the power disparity has pretty much disappeared. Extensively redesigned for 1998, the Land Cruiser and its Lexus LX 470 fraternal twin are propelled by a new 4.7-liter V8 engine. That upgrade, plus extensive chassis revisions, make the Land Cruiser a much more useful all-around driver, and an even stronger performer in tough terrain.
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