Toyota’s V8 engine is quiet. It also delivers good passing performance. There’s real grunt under the hood. Moreover, it’s high-tech grunt: The 4.7-liter V8 uses dual overhead-cams and four valves per cylinder to generate 230 horsepower and, even more significant, 320 foot-pounds of torque. Torque is the low-end thrust that gets you moving when the light turns green. This torque helps give the Land Cruiser a towing capacity of 6500 pounds; the full-sized domestic SUVs offer higher tow ratings, but that’s a hefty trailer. The time it takes for the Land Cruiser to accelerate from 0-60 mph is less than 10 seconds.
An independent front suspension has replaced the old solid axle, a big plus in the ride and handling department. The chassis has been extensively reinforced; nine crossmembers are used in the ladder-type frame, compared to six for the previous edition. Handling is predictable, though the steering could use more road feel. There’s no question that this is a big, heavy vehicle, weighing more than 5115 pounds.
Ride quality is smooth on the road; this newest generation Land Cruiser is suppler than previously. Interior noise is relatively low.
The Toyota Land Cruiser can go just about anywhere and it is designed to take a lot more punishment than most owners will ever dish out. Ground clearance continues to be tops in class at nearly 10 inches. The suspension is designed to provide plenty of travel and articulation to traverse rocky or stump-strewn terrain. Tender elements of the suspension are tucked above a massive skid plate. Skid plates also cover the transfer case and fuel tank.
Only Land Rovers and Jeeps can compete in terms of off-road capability. The front differential can no longer be locked, but our Land Cruiser clawed its way through deep sand and clambered over small boulders without hesitation. When something did scrape, we were confident that all the vulnerable mechanical elements were protected by the skid plates, which come standard. In spite of its improved ride quality on pavement, the current Land Cruiser offers better off-road capability than the previous-generation (pre-1998) model.
The Land Cruiser uses a full-time four-wheel-drive system. The system is capable of splitting torque evenly front to rear, with the rear wheels turning in unison while the front wheels bias torque to the side with the best traction. To achieve this, simply turn the selector switch to full-lock mode and shift the two-speed transfer case into low-range four-wheel drive.
Land Cruiser’s ABS senses the slope and roughness of the terrain and reduces the anti-lock influence over the brakes; this improves stopping performance off road and avoids early activation on steep slopes.
For 2000, Toyota has added several technologies as standard equipment that improve the driver’s ability to control the Land Cruiser in emergency maneuvers: electronic brake force distribution, active traction control, and vehicle skid control.
Electronic brake force distribution (EBD) evenly distributes the braking force to the front and rear wheels. This reduces stopping distances. A brake assist function has been developed to help drivers who may not be depressing the brake pedal hard enough in an emergency braking situation. The system can detect when you’re trying to slam on the brakes to stop; it then uses full braking force even if you relax your foot on the brake pedal. The Land Cruiser comes standard with anti-lock brakes (ABS), which allow the driver to maintain steering control of the vehicle in an emergency-braking situation. All that technology, along with the Land Cruiser’s excellent braking performance, results in a vehicle that’s prepared to handle an emergency-stopping crisis.
Toyota’s active traction control (Active TRAC) improves control when a tire is spinning or slipping during acceleration. Active TRAC senses when a tire is spinning and directs that power to the other three wheels. A new vehicle skid control (VSC