The Toyota Land Cruiser has seemingly been around forever and has gained a cult following since its inception into the automotive spectrum. What’s interesting, though, is that its current legacy isn’t fueled by any quirky aesthetics, like the Pontiac Aztek, or any one specific feature, instead, people love it because it’s just so darn good.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know what that meant until I had the chance to drive it for a week and I’m glad I finally got to understand the Land Cruiser as best I could. Here’s what it’s like to drive a Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition on a daily basis.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is made for the stealthy wealthy
First things first, the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition was made for the affluent folks that dabble in a little bit of off-road driving — most likely to get up to their private cabin estates in the woods – but like to enjoy the finer things in life, even when they’re running errands. I say all of this stereotypically because that’s the sense I got every time I climbed into the Land Cruiser. It’s not in-your-face luxurious like its corporate cousin, the Lexus LX570, but you can still feel the opulence when sitting in it.
Everything feels tight and well put together. You can sense the quality that goes into every stitch in the perforated leather and the overall heft of the car is a telltale sign that it’s everlastingly durable and could even survive an apocalypse, much less another 10 to 20 years of being parked in your driveway. Yes, it costs $90,000, and while not many can readily afford it, it’s worth every penny, in my opinion.
You’re paying for capability and smoothness, the way everything works seamlessly and smoothly. The sunroof opens and closes quietly, the buttons in the center console have a satisfying feel to them when pushed, and even the volume and tuning knobs are buttery smooth in their operation. There’s no head-up display offered and, surprisingly, there’s no Apple Carplay or Android Auto either, but you’re almost guaranteed to love the JBL Synthesis premium sound system as it pumps out pure audio bliss through its 14 speakers, so you’ll end up forgiving its technological shortcomings.
King of the road
One thing to keep in mind is that the Toyota Land Cruiser is a very tall vehicle, which means that shorter people will look like they’re rock climbing when trying to get into it. I’m 5-feet, 8-inches tall and I even had trouble with it every time. Fortunately, there are grab handles at each doorway to help you up. However, once you are in, you’ll have a commanding view of what’s in front of you. And with such a high seating position, it’s hard not to feel like the king of the road when driving the Land Cruiser.
However, due to its serene cabin and smooth operation, you feel like you’re floating on a cloud. In fact, the Land Cruiser feels so smooth, that you can feel a distinct difference between the quiet cocoon that you’re sitting in and the world outside as it floats by. You can barely even hear the massive 5.7-liter V8 engine under the hood, but you can definitely feel it when you mash the throttle pedal to the floorboard.
Although 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque might not sound like it would do much when motivating a nearly 6,000-pound vehicle, but the Land Cruiser moves quicker than you would think off the line and feels pretty light on its feet at speed. There some moments during the time that I had it that I forgot I was driving such a large SUV until I parked and got out of it.
The Land Cruiser is bulletproof through and through
But all that size and strength are what make the Land Cruiser so bulletproof. According to Doug Demuro, “Everything is overbuilt and designed to last at least 25 years,” and I couldn’t agree with him more. There’s a reason that Toyota can charge so much for these things for decades and get away with it. All the attention to detail and development that goes into making every Land Cruiser makes complete sense when you slip behind the wheel of one and let the miles pass by.
No, it’s not the most sensible daily driver, but the Land Cruiser will definitely get you to anywhere you want to go in the ultimate comfort and style, provided that you don’t mind getting terrible gas mileage. After a week of driving, I averaged 14.7 mpg, which is on par with the EPA estimation. But I guess if gas mileage was high on my list of priorities, then I would buy a Toyota Highlander Hybrid instead, possibly even two, considering the cost for both would be the same price as one Land Cruiser.