We say goodbye. Or do we?
After enduring a brutal winter at our Midwest Bureau in northern Illinois, things didn't get much easier for our long-term Land Cruiser after the bulk of winter had passed. Over the course of several weekends in early spring, it carried us to Vintage Iron and Design in Monroe, Wisconsin, so we could complete the body restoration on our Project "Fiery Redhead." Early spring in Wisconsin is a mixed bag of mega-weather. Some weekends were monsoon-like, some were ultra-frigid, and some were blizzard-like. Throughout all of the inclement weather, the big LC carried us safely and in the lap of luxury with nary a complaint.
Near the end of May, Project "Colonel Mustard" (Holman's Willys project) needed to get from Detroit to California. Incidentally, so did the Land Cruiser. The upshot was that the Land Cruiser was tethered to a rented trailer in Michigan containing the Willys. A team of three lucky souls loaded the LC with gear and drove 2,600 miles cross-country. It was during this trip we found that the Land Cruiser is a capable towing machine. The rear air suspension automatically leveled to counter the tongue weight of our 5,000-pound Willys/trailer combo. Highway driving was a very undramatic affair, and the Land Cruiser exhibited outstanding road manners over the course of the trip. The rig's great visibility and large outside rearview mirrors added to the ease of trail-ering. Once we hit the hills of Wyoming, it became clear the 4.7L engine could use a bit more power, though. The rig wasn't overly sluggish, but it was clearly working hard on long grades-a fact illustrated by a drop in fuel mileage to an average of 9.5 mpg from a flatland towing average mpg of 12.5.
So what did we learn from our year with Toyota's flagship SUV? Well, the main thing is that the Land Cruiser proves that a fullsize luxury SUV can in fact be engineered to be capable and confident off-highway without sacrificing refinement and comfort. Quite simply, the Land Cruiser will go where most other luxury SUVs won't dare.
Even after a year of hard use, our Land Cruiser was still as rock-solid as the day it was delivered to us. This is a testament to the craftsmanship that goes into this premium vehicle. This model is now history, replaced by the new 5.7L-powered '08 Land Cruiser, but we heartily recommend this generation as a great pre-owned SUV buy. As a matter of fact, an extremely rare thing happened at the end of our year of testing. Art Director Greg Smith was so impressed by our Land Cruiser, he made arrangements with Toyota to purchase it. That says a lot.
Previous report: Jan. '07, Apr. '07, Aug. '07
Base price: $56,215
Price as tested: $63,459
Four-wheel-drive system: Lever-actuated, full-time two-speed
Miles to date: 32,718
Miles since last report: 6,340
Average mpg (this report): 15.7
Test best tank (mpg): 19.4
Test worst tank (mpg): 7.7 (towing)
5,000-mile service: Oil change, tire rotation, Cost: 69.25
15,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter, tire rotation, front and rear differential lube service, transmission fluid change,
19,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter,
23,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter, tire rotation, Cost: $68.30
28,000-mile service: Lube, oil and filter, tire rotation, brake cleaning,
Our total scheduled maintenance cost for 1-year: $405.37
Test problem areas: Drivetrain clunk, leather seating surface delamination, broken switch, stalling
WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT:
HOT: Outstanding build quality, real tailgate, exemplary visibility, traction control that really works, great headlights, real transfer-case lever
NOT: Lousy Bluetooth system, lawyerized navigation system, no power seat memory
* "The Comfort/Sport suspension setting really works!"
* "It's amazing where this rig will go off-highway."