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Supreme Leader
2008 Toyota Land Cruiser

By Keith Burton

Toyota is particularly proud of their new 2008 Land Cruiser luxury SUV. Here’s a vehicle that Toyota says practically defines their company. A durable SUV that appeals primarily to the company’s many fans of its rugged and durable large SUV.

Rarely have I ever driven a vehicle that has such all-around capability both on and off road. The key defining word for the new Land Cruiser is “refined” with the emphasis on “purity.”

Now those words may be a but off-putting for some readers, but bare will me a  bit. The 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser is not your average SUV, or the average truck you generally expect from Toyota. The Land Cruiser is a significant step up in the SUV ladder for Toyota, and even most other luxury SUVs. I found all this out in a journalists-only ride and drive that included a stint offroad in the mountains of Montana and a lengthy road trip to Yellowstone National Park.

You would be free to ponder why Toyota even builds the Land Cruiser as its other large SUV, the Sequoia is far more popular and is also getting a new version for 2008. But the Land Cruiser is among Toyota’s most popular SUVs in markets far from the U.S. such as the Middle East, and the vehicle has a long history of quiet success in the U.S.

The 2008 Land Cruiser is Toyota’s most expensive vehicle under the “Toyota” brand. Yes, the company has more expensive vehicles under their premium “Lexus” brand, but for a Toyota, the Land Cruiser is in rarified air, with a starting price in excess of $60,000. That’s a lotta dough for a Toyota. But Toyota says it doesn’t expect to sell more than 6,000 Land Cruisers in the U.S. for 2008. Most of the vehicle sales are outside the country where it is not equipped in super luxury form as it is in our country.

Super luxury and super capability is what the Land Cruiser is all about. Let me make something quite clear right off the bat. The 2008 Land Cruiser is a truck. It is not a modified something built off a car chassis. As a real truck, it is stoutly constructed with a heavy, stiff frame, rugged suspension pieces and excellent approach and departure angles for some real offroad challenges. The Land Cruiser is not a unitized body vehicle as are many SUVs today.

What comes unexpected is how well this “truck” works as a luxury vehicle with a smooth, compliant ride, terrific steering, excellent power, and near silent road manors. It is in those attributes that the Land Cruiser shows off its refined character.

Still, it is a truck, and there you see that it doesn’t quite compare to other premium SUVs in the price range it finds itself. The Land Cruiser is not about “bling” but refinement and capability. The exterior styling is tasteful, but very reserved. The interior is comfortable and has all the features of other luxury SUVs, but is not something you would shout home about.  The Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator are much more flashy.

The 2008 Land Cruiser though is far more capable off road than the Caddy or Lincoln, and is more refined than the Volkswagen Touareg, and just as capable offroad as the Hummer H3. But we doubt that many of the U.S. purchasers will be driving their Land Cruiser off road.

But if you do, you will find Toyota’s engineers have made offroad driving almost a no-brainer.  Put the  truck in low and it will creep down, or up an hill and on a slippery slope without sliding or losing traction. A special creep feature controls the brakes, throttle and more to control the truck’s path and all you have to do is steer. A special suspension package, called KDSS by Toyota, provides a unique mixture of on-road stiffness and off road compliance. KDSS consists of a pair of hydraulic control cylinders that vary roll stiffness depending on road (on no road) conditions.,

Power is a big issue with the Land Cruiser, in a very good way. The standard, and only engine, is the 5.7 liter V8 that is also found in the Tundra pickup. This engine packs serious 381 horsepower at 5,600 rpm with a whopping 401 lb.-ft. of torque at a low 3,600 rpm. With this combination of power, the Land Cruiser, despite being a heavy vehicle, feels very light on  its feet and wonderfully powerful on the highway at high speeds.

You also get a lot of power for towing. The stout frame and high power and torque give the Land Cruiser a maximum towing capacity of 8,500 pounds when properly equipped.

We really loved the way this truck performs on the road. It is smooth, nearly silent, and very comfortable for four passengers. There is a third row seat, but adults will find the space very confining. The Land Cruiser is also not that large a vehicle, especially when compared to the Caddy and Lincoln.  But it does  coddle very well. Excellent audio is on tap with its premium JBL audio system. A clear and bright DVD player is terrific at melting the miles away, and the voice recognition navigation and phone system is among the easiest to use.

There is virtually no wind noise from the A-pillars and road noise is also largely absent, very “Lexus-like.” Well, in fact, Toyota will be making a Lexus version of the same vehicle, though we auto journalists all wondered, “why?”

I do have a few quibbles. First has to do with the price. Why so expensive? This would be an excellent truck at about $15,000 less, but at over $60,000 it just doesn’t have enough style. Secondly, there is no power liftgate at the rear, which most all of its competitors feature. And considering the luxury this truck had, it didn’t have cooled seats as its competitors have at this price range. But then, perhaps that will be left for the Lexus version.

Overall, the 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser impresses on many levels. It has an amazing ability to handle offroad situations that would halt many competitors, and it is highly refined on the road. It is easy to forget your are driving a truck and are sitting in a luxury sedan.

Toyota expects to sell most of its Land Cruisers to fans of the vehicle and not too many to new customers. Still, this is a refined and capable luxury SUV that everyone needs to take a hard look at.



Type 5.7-liter, 8-cylinder, 32-valve V-type DOHC with dual VVT-i, EFI, aluminum block with aluminum

alloy head

Bore and Stroke 3.70 x 4.02 inches

Displacement 5,663 cc

Compression Ratio 10.2:1

Valve Train 4-valve/cylinder

Horsepower (SAE Net) 381 hp @ 5,600 rpm

Torque 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm

Ignition System Distributorless Toyota Direct Ignition (TDI)

Fuel System EFI

Recommended Fuel 87-octane regular unleaded

Emission Control ULEV II Tier II (Bin 5)


Drive System Type Full-time four-wheel drive


6-speed ECT automatic with sequential shift mode

1st 3.333

2nd 1.960

3rd 1.353

4th 1.000

5th 0.728

6th 0.588

Reverse 3.061

Differential Ratio 3.909:1

Transfer Case 1.000/2.618 (high/low)


Front Independent double-wishbone suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar

Rear 4-link suspension with coil springs, stabilizer bar and rigid axle with control arms

Stabilizer Bar

Diameter (front/rear) 1.68/0.98 inchesRUISER PRELIMINARY


Front Ventilated disc

Front Diameter 13.4 inches

Front Swept Area 287 square inches

Rear Ventilated disc

Rear Diameter 13.6 inches

Rear Swept Area 228 square inches

Parking Center hand brake


Type Power-assisted variable gear rack-and-pinion

Ratio 16.7:1

Turns (lock to lock) 3.1 turns

Turning circle, curb to curb (ft) 38.7 feet


Wheel size 18 x 8.0 inches

Type and Material Aluminum alloy – high gloss finish

Tire Size P285/60 R18

Tire Type Mud-and-snow-rated steel-belted radial blackwall

Spare Full-size


30/20 degrees 21 degrees

EPA ESTIMATED FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway mpg) (Based on new EPA calculations)


Engine Oil 7.0 quarts (with filter)

Fuel Tank 24.6 gallons

Cooling System 17.7 quarts


Wheelbase 112.2

Overall Length 194.9

Overall Width 77.6

Overall Height 74.0

Tread Width Front: 64.6

Rear: 64.4

Minimum Ground Clearance 8.9

Coefficient of Drag 0.35



Front: 38.3

Middle: 38.9

Rear: 35.8


Front: 42.3

Middle: 36.0

Rear: 28.4

Shoulder Room

Front: 61.0

Middle: 61.1

Rear: 62.3

Hip Room

Front: 59.8

Middle: 58.5

Rear: 56.6

EPA Cargo Volume

With middle row folded and rear row removed: 81.7 cubic feet

With third row folded: 43.0 cubic feet

Behind third row: 16.1 cubic feet

Seating Capacity 8AR


Curb Weight 5,690

GVWR 7,275

Payload 1,585

Maximum Trailer Weight 8,500

Maximum Tongue Weight 850

Gross Combined Weight Rating 15,775


Driver and front passenger dual stage advanced airbags; driver and front passenger seat-mounted

side airbags; second row seat-mounted side airbags; three-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags

with roll-sensing cutoff switch; and driver and front passenger knee airbags

1st and 2nd row seat belts equipped with pretensioners and force limiters

Three-point ALR/ELR seatbelts in all outboard, second-row and third-row center seating positions

(driver’s belt ELR only)

Adjustable front- and second-row outboard seatbelt anchors

STAR SAFETY SYSTEM™ - includes Active-Traction Control (A-TRAC) plus Vehicle Stability

Control (VSC) with cut-off switch, four-wheel "Multi-terrain" Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with

Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)

Highly rigid body structure with side-impact door beams

Driver and front passenger active headrests

Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)

CRAWL Control with Downhill Assist Control (DAC)

Direct Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS)

Intuitive Parking Assist - clearance back up sonar

Daytime running lights (DRL)

Child-protector rear hatch and door locks

CRS lower anchorage located on the left and right outboard seating positions of 2nd row. CRS

anchor brackets located on the back of the rear seats


3-year/36,000-mile Comprehensive

5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain

5-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation


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