Toyota Land Cruiser Review

Even before the economy turned to jello and gas prices went bipolar, the idea of a new Toyota Land Cruiser...a new, bigger, Toyota Land Cruiser...seemed like a pretty iffy proposition. The writing's been on the wall for a couple of years now: This is a time of change. Smaller, more economical approaches are the future.

So I got behind the wheel of this $64,000 behemoth ($72,000 and change as equipped) with reservations.

I ended up loving it.

Look: The Toyota Land Cruiser (along with the Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon XL and the Range Rover) have a right to survivor status. They were here, doing what real sport-utility vehicles are supposed to do, long before the amateurs (suburbanites steering with their knees, texting with one hand and sipping a latte' with the other) got involved. When used as intended, by someone who understands, respects and hopefully needs their capabilities, they are exceptionally good vehicles. All Toyota has done here is make it better.

No question the tester was loaded to American tastes...with upgraded audio system, DVD for the people in the (heated) back seats, and all that. But not once could I convince myself that this was a frivolous vehicle. Driving it inspired confidence every inch of the way.

No, the gas mileage isn't awesome, but it's not bad either...the EPA estimated 13 city/18 highway is about right for this market segment...helped by Toyota's inclusion of a six-speed automatic as standard equipment.

As the amateurs leave the true sport-utes for crossovers and whatever the next fad might be, the remaining true SUVs may get serious. If so, the Land Cruiser would be a fine template to follow.