Went Big. Went To Lake Tahoe: The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser

Front 3/4 view of the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser
The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser.
If you want to gain an appreciation for a full-size, four-wheel drive SUV, drive one in a snowstorm.

That's how I came to know, appreciate and eventually own a 1993 GMC Suburban---after driving the one owned by the television station I worked for in Phoenix, Arizona in the early 1990s in a severe winter storm in Flagstaff.

Flash-forward nearly 30 years.  My wife and I are going to Lake Tahoe for a four-day weekend to celebrate my birthday and---as it has been most of this winter, it seems---it's snowing.  I've requested, weeks in advance, "anything with all-wheel drive".   I'm originally scheduled in a Mazda CX-5.  A lovely vehicle, one I like a lot.  A couple of days before the trip, it gets pulled and replaced with a Hyundai Santa Fe.  Again, more than fine.  An excellent machine and it meets the main requirement---all-wheel drive.

Then comes the text.  My contact at DriveShop,  which contracts with manufacturers to prepare and deliver vehicles to automotive reviewers, was looking at the wrong week on the calendar.  One more switch---this time to the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser.

This is not a consolation prize.  This is hitting the jackpot.

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Toyota Land Crusier
2019 Toyota Land Cruiser.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is a legend.  It's the longest-running nameplate in Toyota's lineup, built continuously since 1951.  The current generation, with running tweaks and upgrades, has been around since 2008.   Obsolete?  No.  Antique?  No.  Classic?  Absolutely.

For very nearly 70 years, the Toyota Land Cruiser has been among the handful of vehicles that people in the most severe conditions on earth use to get from point A to point B.  You know---safaris, expeditions, stuff like that. Its only true competitors are Land Rovers and Mercedes-Benz Gelandelwagens.  Those who want to accomplish the mission without something expensive breaking---or anything breaking at all---tend to choose the Toyota.

The late David E. Davis, Jr. (1930-2011) wrote the best one-sentence description of the Land Cruiser for Automobile magazine some years back:  "It will climb a tree if you're brave enough."

Interior view of 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser
2019 Toyota Land Cruiser.
The Land Cruiser exudes strength, solidity and capability.  It reassures you that---no matter how bad it looks through the windshield---you'll get there in one piece.  And we did.  I wish I had stories to tell about our trip to Tahoe as it relates to the Land Cruiser.  In a lesser vehicle, I'm sure I would have.  But the Land Cruiser has a way of making the exceptional unremarkable.

Since 2013, Toyota has made virtually all previously optional equipment standard on the Land Cruiser. So a brilliant 14-speaker audio system, navigation, moonroof, four-zone climate control, and perforated leather on all eight seats are all part of the package. The price? $84,765 plus $1,295 delivery, processing and handling fee.

View from rear seats in 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser
2019 Toyota Land Cruiser.
Other than a handful of dealer-installed accessories (wheel locks, cargo nets, trailer hitches), the only option is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with two 11.6-inch monitors attached to the back of the front headrests.   That costs $2,220.

The only downer is fuel economy.  The 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser is powered by a 381-horsepower 5.7-liter dual overhead cam V8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.  And while that makes for smooth and plentiful power, it also makes for an EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 on the highway.  As I write this, the lowest price for a gallon of gas in my neighborhood is $3.25.  Filling up an empty Land Cruiser is a $79.95 proposition at that price.

But if you have the means, the 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser is a magnificent beast.