The 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser is one of a select few cars that take SUV attributes to their extreme. Not many vehicles can match the Land Cruiser’s off-road capability, space, comfort, and naturally aspirated reliability. But there’s a reason most settle for less, because along with those virtues come the traditional downfalls of large SUVs: distant handling, wretched fuel economy, and stomach-churning prices. As you’d expect from a car with such a deep heritage, the Land Cruiser offers a time-tested package without pretense – for better or for worse.

Best Value

Besides interior and exterior colors, Toyota gives buyers very few choices to make. That’s not a bad thing – the standard features are plentiful, including four-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled front seats, semi-aniline leather, a nine-inch infotainment touchscreen, and even a fridge in the center console.

The only package is a rear-seat entertainment system for $2,200. We’d pass on that but add the useful accessory of remote start, so the Cruiser will be nice and toasty when you head out to bully snowy roads into submission.

At just above base, our Land Cruiser would look like this:

  • Model: 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser
  • Engine: 5.7-liter V8
  • Output: 381 hp / 401 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 13 City / 18 Hwy
  • Options: Remote Engine Starter ($499)
  • Base Price: $85,860 (including a $1,295 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $86,359

Performance

The Land Cruiser is comfortable on the road and a beast off it. Combined with the Cruiser’s separate ladder frame, the V8 is good for a towing capacity of 8,100 pounds. The ride is composed and smooth, thanks to soft tires and beefy anti-roll bars. But the Land Cruiser really comes into its own away from pavement, where the anti-roll bars detach to allow full articulation. A limited-slip differential can be locked with the press of a button, and Toyota’s Crawl Control system will keep the car moving at a constant speed over any terrain. Another switch brakes the inside wheel to give the Land Cruiser a tight turning radius, which helps mitigate its considerable girth.

While the tires and suspension absorb bumps with ease, they don’t communicate much of the road to the driver’s fingertips. Steering is light and numb, which makes for sedate handling. The other major drawback is the fuel economy, which is abysmal next to anything except a Hummer. This was once par for the course on large cars, but even SUVs have joined the efficiency revolution, and other brands offer more efficient engines.

Style

The Land Cruiser remains true to decades of chunky, recognizable styling. Chrome is daubed liberally around the grille and rear, but the Cruiser still manages to look conservative and utilitarian. The look suits the car’s personality, and side sills do an admirable job of masking the Cruiser’s nine inches of ground clearance. The interior is lavish and comfortable, with plenty of space in the first and second rows. Many controls are integrated into the touchscreen, but off-road options are controlled by dials and switches on the center console. Cargo space is predictably ample. The safety technology is also worth mentioning: automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are all standard.

The removable third row has three seat belts, which is ambitious – it’s a row best occupied by children. And while the upholstery is nice, too much of the trim is cheap, hard plastic, which doesn’t match the Land Cruiser’s hefty price tag. As capable as the Land Cruiser is, some buyers may balk at paying more than $80,000 for a car with a Toyota badge. The Lexus LX 570 is similar mechanically, but offers flashier styling and a slightly upgraded interior for only a few grand more.

The Best and Worst Things

True off-road capability means that the legend lives on, but you’ll have to pay top dollar to take part. The Land Cruiser is an impressive machine, but how many buyers really need this much car?

Right For? Wrong For?

The Land Cruiser is right for upscale buyers who need a true adventure vehicle. It'll take you high into the mountains or deep into the dunes with typical Toyota resilience. The interior will keep everyone comfortable on road trips, and the trunk will swallow ski gear for four. Throw a camp mattress in the back and the Land Cruiser becomes a home away from home.

For buyers who want a less extreme SUV, more practical options exist. Even luxury options like the Mercedes-Benz GLS undercut the Land Cruiser’s starting price, and a Range Rover will offer far more customizability. If all you need is a competent full-size SUV, a Ford Expedition or Toyota’s own Sequoia will get the job done for less.

The Bottom Line

While the 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser is lovable and accomplished, it’s not always easy to recommend. It’s best for buyers who'll make use of the considerable off-road credentials or those who appreciate the history and personality. Old-school charm can only go so far, and low mileage is an artifact that feels out of place in this age. Still, not many cars can handle all habitats quite like a Land Cruiser.