Monday, April 28, 2014

The Land Barge Series: My take on the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser

After a one year pause, there was no 2012 model year for the Toyota Land Cruiser, it returns with slight enhancements for 2013. The most notable change is that all of the previous options on the Land Cruiser are now standard. Of course, it also comes with the higher price tag to cover that bump in price.

The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser comes standard with everything this year. Previous options like rear seat entertainment for the kiddos, heated and cooled seats for mom and dad, if you can think of it, it has it. Of course, this $78k land barge that seats 8 and has four wheel drive capability might not seem like the ordinary user-friendly cars from Toyota that you might be used to, but in reality, every other Toyota has dreams of becoming something close to the Land Cruiser. It can go everywhere, and do everything, yet not show off in the process. It's kind of like having a Rolex watch in a Timex case.

Obviously the Land Cruisers high end options are relatively new. If you know anything about the Land Cruisers of the past, they started being made around the 1960's. Big game hunters way back when probably werent watching From Russia, With Love in the reclining rear seats. However, just as Land Rover has moved upmarket in years past, so to must the Land Cruiser. The 2013 Land Cruiser features options that will automatically set it up for specific kinds of terrain, alter the stiffness of the stabilizer bars, more body control on pavement-less for off road, and take control of the brakes and gas during slow, hair-raising off road situations.

To the rational shoppers out there in the car market, the Land Cruiser doesn't offer, much, if any, appeal. Many less expensive crossover SUV options exist, even in the Toyota stables, that would work much better for daily use. If you need power for towing, the Toyota Sequoia is an option, or you could get the Land Cruiser twin, the Lexus LX570, which doesn't carry much of a premium any more.

The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser is an eight-passenger SUV available in a single, fully loaded trim level.

Standard features include 18-inch wheels, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, automatic xenon headlamps, foglamps, automatic wipers, privacy glass, a roof rack, a sunroof and keyless ignition/entry. Interior features include four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated power front seats (10-way driver, eight-way passenger), a heated 40/20/40-split second row (sliding, reclining, folding), leather upholstery, a wood-trimmed power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a center console cooler box.

Standard electronic features include adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications, a navigation system, a touchscreen interface, voice control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rear-seat entertainment system and Toyota's Entune suite of smartphone app-based services. The 14-speaker JBL sound system includes a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser comes with a 5.7 liter V8 that produces a very potent 381 horsepower, and 401 lb.-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission and full time 4 wheel drive are standard. The maximum tow rating comes in at a respectable 8,500 lbs. EPA fuel economy numbers clock in at 13 city/18 highway mpg.

Besides 4 wheel drive, the Land Cruiser comes with a standard locking center differential, dubbed Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which adjusts the stabilier bars like mentioned earlier, Multi Terrain Select, a five speed crawl control, hill start assist, and Off-road turn assist. In performance testing, the tester clocked a 0-60 mph run at 7.5 seconds. Given the size and heft of the Land Cruiser, that is quite fast.

Standard safety features include things like ABS, stability and traction control, front and second row side airbags, full length side curtain airbags, and front knee airbags. Also stand is the Safety Connect system, which includes automatic collision notification, on demand roadside assistance, an emergency assistance button, and a stolen vehicle locator, similar to Lo-Jack.

The interior on the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser is as refined as you can find in any Toyota, with high quality materials, and very good fit and finish. It doesn't quite match the Lexus twin, but it really does come astonishingly close. For 2013, the dash eliminates several audio system buttons for what may be a slightly cleaner look, but some customers find that it may complicate functionality.

You can seat up to 8 passenegers in the cabin, though the 3rd row is really only meant for younger kids. Access to the 3rd row is made somewhat easy by a one touch, tumble forward second row. Those lucky enough to sit in the second row are treated with more space, a rear seat entertainment system, and a heated seat that slides, and even reclines.

With the rear seats up, cargo space comes in at 16 cubic feet. That is about the same amount of space that you will find in the trunk of a Camry, but that space is less useful as the Land Cruisers space is more vertical than horizontal. On the down side, the third row seats do not fold down, nor do they become removeable. Because of this, the Land Cruiser clocks in at a relatively low 82 cubic feet of cargo space, given the class it is in.

As with the previous generations of Land Cruisers, the 2013 model has great off road capability, yet still delivers a comfortablt ride on city streets. It is also packed with technology. When you explore the untamed wild, high tech features like multi terrain select and crawl take much of the worry out of the mind of the driver. All you have to do is select the type of terrain you are driving on, then dial in your desired speed, keep your feet of the gas and brake, and steer in the desired direction you want to go.

In the more maddening urban jungle, the 2013 Land Cruiser behaves like the civil luxury SUV that you want it to be, soaking up bumps with ease, and insulating those on the inside from the outside world. On a mountain road to the ski slopes near you, the Land Cruiser remains flat on the corners, the KDSS active rollbars helping to keep the land barge feel surprisingly sure footed. Performance is also quite strong, with the 5.7 liter V8 engine producing more than enough forward thrust for passing, towing, of freeway crusing.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this review. If you have any questions or comments about this review, or anything automotive, feel free to leave them at the bottom of the page. Or, you can send me an email:, or on facebook: James Granlund, or you can follow me on twitter: @JamesGranlund. If you liked this review, subscribe so you can stay up to date on all of the latest reviews, as they are published. Once again, thank you for reading.

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