Toyota Land Cruiser
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The eight-passenger Land Cruiser is so far removed from its progenitor, but who cares with this leather-lined no-option machine . . . just pick a color.

Toyota’s 5.7-liter V8 kicks out 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque; four-wheel-drive helps get you anywhere you want to go and an 8,500-pound towing capacity means you can take your toys with you.

While the Germans and others are embracing luxury SUVs with abandon, few would believe that Toyota has been doing it longer than just about anyone. After more than 50 years as Toyota’s top-gun off-roader, the Land Cruiser is the company’s most expensive sport-utility vehicle. It uses body-on-frame construction that’s shared with its up-market Lexus LX 570 relation. A couple years back, Toyota freshened the Land Cruiser inside and out, although you would have been forgiven if you didn’t instantly spot the new grille and the bright high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights, light-emitting-diode (LED) running lights and bigger fenders. Thrust comes via a 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 and a six-speed automatic transmission, which is a powertrain that’s shared with both the Lexus and Toyota’s own Tundra pickup. The fuel-economy rating is just 13/18 mpg city/highway, but if you’re in need of large off-road hauler, fuel consumption might be a secondary issue, anyway. Full-time four-wheel-drive with a boulder-crawling low range is standard as is a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that basically varies the stiffness of the anti-roll bars depending on whether you’re carving rush-hour traffic or need things loosened up a lot for severe off-roading. Other rough-and-tumble technologies include a crawl-control mode that sets the throttle in one of five positions (used when the transfer case of the standard 4×4 system is switched to low range). This allows the driver to focus on the terrain and driving without having to pay much attention to the throttle. To slow down, just tap the brake pedal, and to speed back up, release it. Other technology includes trailer sway control, a rapid-start electric heating system (standard equipment) with 28 vents as well as four-zone climate control. The Land Cruiser is obviously equipped to coddle with information displays, radar-based cruise control, heated and cooled front-row seats (leather all around), power sunroof, 14-speaker premium audio system and 10 airbags including second-row side-impact protection and knee-blocker airbags for the driver and front passenger.