New Car/Review

1997 TOYOTA LAND CRUISER

by Matt/Bob Hagin

toyota

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 41,068
     Price As Tested                                    $ 50,410
     Engine Type                        DOHC 4.5 Liter I6 w/EFI*
     Engine Size                                 273 cid/4477 cc
     Horsepower                                   212 @ 4600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               275 @ 3200 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                    112.2 /76"/189.8"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4952 Pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  25.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P275/70R16
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.42

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            13/15/14          
     0-60 MPH                                         11 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       18 seconds @ 77.5 mph
     Towing capacity                                    5000 lbs
     * Electronic fuel injection

(This year is the 40th birthday of Toyota's Land Cruiser and it's a favorite of Matt Hagin, having owned several vintage models. His dad Bob is amazed at its four-decade metamorphosis from an ugly-but-tough caterpillar into a beautiful-but-tough butterfly.)

BOB - It's amazing to me that this swanky, upscale machine is a direct descendent of that homely '76 FJ-40 machine that you're restoring, Matt. This Land Cruiser looks like it's more at home in the country club parking lot than it would be grinding over a mountain trail or fording a rock-filled stream.

MATT - Don't let its svelte lines and fancy interior fool you, Dad. The straight-six engine in this car displaces 4.5 liters, carries two camshafts on top of its cylinder head and four valves in each combustion chamber. It puts out 212 horsepower, which isn't enough to win the Indy 500, but its stump-pulling 275 pound-feet of torque comes on at only 3200 RPM. That low-speed torque coupled with an advanced four-speed automatic transmission makes it almost as comfortable in the Rockies as it is on Park Avenue. And if the Rockies really got rocky, the driver of this Land Cruiser could make good use of its four-wheel drive capabilities. With a two-speed transfer case, optional locking front, rear and middle differentials, and a 10-inch ground clearance, that's second only to the military-like Hummer. Last year a pair of Land Cruisers took the first two places in the unmodified class of the bone-crushing Paris-to-Dakar Rally and I've read that the Land Cruiser is a favorite with photo-tour guides in East Africa.

BOB - But I'll bet that they're not all tricked out like the top-of-the-line version we had for a week. I can't picture leather upholstery, aluminum wheels, power-operated slide-and-tilt sun roof, two-tone paint and nine-speaker sound system as standard equipment on an African brush-buggy. I suspect that if an American buys a Land Cruiser for its all-wheel drive capacities, it's for use as a family car on roads covered with rain, snow and ice or for heading to the ski resorts. Under those conditions, the driver can make good use of the second-gear startup mechanism to reduce wheelspin when pulling away from a dead stop. That's a useful safety feature. All those optional extras on our Land Cruiser added up to an additional ninety-five hundred bucks, which makes it an unlikely as-delivered candidate for use in the Gobi Desert chasing dinosaur bones. But it sure made cruising the gravel-covered backroads comfortable.

MATT - But scanning the terrain wouldn't be a problem, Dad. The view from the front seats to the road ahead is almost as good as an 18-wheeler and at five foot-tall, even my diminutive Susanne has a commanding view of the road ahead. Swinging up into the driver's seat can present a problem to a first-timer, so it takes a little practice to get it right. The Land Cruiser is a big, tall machine with lots of carrying capacity. With the rear tailgate swung down, sliding 4X8 sheets of plywood is easy - as long as the optional third seat is out and the middle seat is folded up. With an available 90 cubic feet of cargo space, the family handyperson has almost enough room to transport a grand piano but with just the third seat folded up and the middle seat left in place, there's only room to transport a washing machine.

BOB - I don't think that the third seat was intended to see much service, Matt. It's so far away from the heating and a/c system that folks riding back there are going to ask to trade places with other passengers on a rotational plan. But no matter how uncomfortable it becomes, it will never come close to the rough ride rear seat passengers get in one of those old FJ-40s like the one you're working on. When you were just a little guy, I took you and the rest of the family four-wheeling in one that I'd borrowed from the factory. I think that you were about three or four at the time and you thought it was great fun.

MATT - I don't remember the occasion but now I understand why I get such a warm-fuzzy feeling when I pull wrenches on that thing.

Complete specifications on the 1997 Toyota Truck Land Cruiser 4dr 4WD and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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