The Toyota Land Cruiser has become a favorite of those wanting to take their spouse out for a night on the town, but who knew it worked so well off-pavement? We'll keep that one to ourselves, as the TLC is our stealth 'wheeler, and our significant others are smitten that we got our hands on a gorgeous luxury SUV for a year ("This one doesn't go 'wheeling, right?").
Right. We did a little 'wheeling in and around Hollister Hills, California, at Top Truck Challenge, but the boss was against taking it through the Tank Trap-something about him needing to drive it home (or hire a new Tech Editor instead.-Ed). A likely story, but we know the Land Cruiser could get through many tougher trails with its excellent off-highway manners and capability-after all, we did name it our 2006 Four Wheeler of the Year. If we had to change something though, we'd add a rear locker to the mix of the otherwise exceptional four-wheel-drive system.
Our Cruiser continues to impress with its vault-like build quality and refined ride. The adjustable suspension actually has a noticeable difference between settings, but some find the "Sport" mode a bit too harsh. Set on "Comfort," the staff loves to fight over the keys for long trips, plus it can fit a whole clan of Brubakers in comfort and style.
There have been a couple of minor warranty issues that were promptly handled by Miller Toyota in Culver City, California, along with an oil change. It seems that one of our sausage-fingered staffers managed to break off the power seat switch, and we had a section of leather on the rear seat cushion delaminate, both replaced no charge. Also, one staffer experienced a case of engine cut-out, but the problem hasn't reoccurred in several thousand miles, so we'll keep our eye on it.
Other than those small glitches, the LC continues to be a staff favorite, and soon we'll be sending it to the Midwest bureau so Mr. Brubaker (and his clan) can do some winter testing for us.
REPORT: 2 of 4
Previous report: Jan. '06
Base price: $56,215
Price as tested: $63,459
Four-wheel-drive system: Lever-actuated, full-time two-speed
Miles to date: 10,935
Miles since last report: 6,806
Average mpg (this report): 13.54
Test best tank (mpg): 18.14
Test worst tank (mpg): 9.71 (all towing)
5,000-mile service: Oil change, tire rotation
Problem areas: Leather seating surface delamination, broken switch, stalling (all fixed under warranty)
WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT
HOT: Vault-like structure, comfortable cabin, excellent visibility, smooth ride, great on the trail
NOT: No rear locker, some wish for more power
* "Takes premium, wish it had more power."
* "Plenty of power."
* "Comfortable and luxurious, but the platform is showing its age."
* "Low-tire warning system actually works correctly. Had a slow leak, put air in, light goes out."
* "Surprised there is no factory plug-in for trailer brake controller-even the Tacoma has that."