Toyota Land Cruiser (1999)

 

1999 1/2 MODEL YEAR

Toyota Land CruiserThe Toyota Land Cruiser is nicknamed the "Land Crusher"...for very good reason. The overriding characteristics of this car are its size andheft. This car is humongous. Unless you're driving a Hummer or an Abrams M-1 tank, you couldn't possibly feel any more invulnerable.We have very much liked the Land Cruiser in the past. It's all-wheel drive. It's very substantial feeling. It's nicely appointed, and it's a Toyota, which means it'll last forever.

Driving Experience

The driving experience is quite wonderful in the Land Cruiser. It steers and corners very well for a huge vehicle--better than the Navigator or the Expedition, in our humble opinion. It corners a little flatter and is a little more confidence-inspiring on the corners. The engine is smooth as all hell, and the ride is really quite good for a car of this size and type. The Land Cruiser now comes with a wonderful Lexus V8 engine, solving the slight lack of power in the past. (Mileage with the new engine is identical: a lousy 13 mpg in the city, 16 mpg on the highway.) Despite the considerable--and successful--lengths Toyota has gone to to pamper you, you're always aware that you're driving a large vehicle.

Styling

Personally, we liked the looks of the old Land Cruiser a little more than the new design. The old version looked rugged, with a more curvy body design. The new Land Cruiser has been squared off and flattened out, though the interior volume remains unchanged. The new sheet metal somehow makes it appear more refined and upscale, which we found a little less appealing. In fact, it looks a little more like the Lincoln Navigator than before.

Interior

Toyota Land CruiserOn the inside, the Land Cruiser is a very nice looking car, with everything that one could possibly want in terms of accoutrements. The interior is very comfortable, with leather seats and lots of headroom and legroom. There's plenty of room in the back. The Land Cruiser we tested also came with an amazing stereo system and a sunroof.

Because the Land Cruiser is a wide car, there's plenty of room between the seats. There's a big bin between the seats, a good-sized glove compartment and door bins.

Our Producer Dougie Berman had the chance to find out just exactly how invulnerable one can be in the Land Cruiser. (Note to Dougie: You're taking your job way, way too seriously.) A schmuck in a BMW (is that redundant?) came careening across the road in the snow, lost control...and smashed into Dougie in a slightly offset frontal collision. Dougie was going about 20 miles an hour and the BMW was going about 35. The BMW was crumpled beyond repair; the Land Cruiser? It lost a parking light, had a dent in the fender and needed a new radiator. Meanwhile, inside the car, Dougie thought that he had hit a pothole.

Maintenance

Toyota Land CruiserIn terms of repair and maintenance, weve found the Land Cruiser to be reliable and quite rugged. Parts are expensive and can be hard to obtain, however, and we have noted that the brakes and tires wear quickly on the Land Cruiser.

Who would buy a Land Cruiser? Someone who can afford to shell out 50 grand for the ultimate sport utility vehicle. The Land Cruiser is for the person who might be thinking about getting a Volvo Cross Country...but has an extra 15 grand sitting around and wants to go nuts and really do it up.

Overall comments

No one will ever call this car a good deal. In our humble opinion, theLand Cruiser is priced at least $10,000 higher than it should be. Thefact is, however, that the Land Cruiser is overpriced for a reason--because it's unique. There's nothing quite like it on the market today,and people who want one will pay a premium. Unlike a Camry, with the Land Cruiser you can't go out and buy an Accord and think you're getting the same thing. If you want a Land Cruiser, you have to get a Land Cruiser...and it's going to cost you. However, because the Land Cruiser is unique, it also retains an incredible resale value--as anyone who has tried to buy a used one will quickly tell you. Check a newspaper--the '94 and '95 Land Cruisers are still priced in the $20,000-30,000 range. It's amazing.

Think of buying a Land Cruiser as an investment. A very big investment. It'll be interesting to see if the old Land Cruisers start losing their value now that the new V8 engines are available. If, in fact, the Land Cruiser is the "trendoid" vehicle it seems to have become in the last few years, then the trendoids are going to want the new V8--as they should. Hopefully, for the rest of us schmucks, those pre-'98s with the old straight six-cylinder engines will start dropping in value.

The Land Cruiser is one of a kind. It's a great vehicle that can take you anywhere in any weather, with a lot of people and a lot of stuff. If aliens attacked Earth, this would be the vehicle wed want to be testing that week. It's rugged, reliable and safe. And if it didn't cost 52,000 smackeroos, we'd probably all have one in our driveways.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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