2021 Toyota Land Cruiser HE – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Last chance for Americans to own a brand-spanking-new Land Cruiser
Photos and Story By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
The 2021 model year marks the end of the trail for Toyota's storied Land Cruiser in the US market. Although production of this SUV continues for rest of world consumption, Toyota will transfer sales of this full-size SUV to their Lexus brand. In 2022, the Lexus LX effectively becomes the Cruiser's replacement. As a farewell effort for 2021, Toyota is offering a special version of the Land Cruiser called the HE or Heritage Edition. This tribute to the historic SUV, which has been produced in one form or another since 1951, starts off with a vintage type face name badge attached to both C-pillars. It's a look that will resonate with long time Cruiser devotees.
The HE is available with a two-row seating plan, or as a three row model. We never cared for the Land Cruiser's stowable third row seats which stored against the sides of the cargo area. Even folded, they took up an inordinate amount of room. The HE is the first Cruiser to offer a two row seating option (although a three-row version is still available). Unless you need the extra seating capacity, opt for the two row model, which offers a staggering 43 cubic feet of space.
The two-row version we tested carried a base price of $87,845. For that kind of investment, you get the ultimate in off-road competence. This design is body-on-frame construction. Suspension is by double link wishbones up front and four-link coil springs in back. The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System utilizes hydraulically controlled stabilizer bars which are tuned to enhance ride on paved roads as well as prioritize wheel articulation off-road.
The driver can super tune the Land Cruiser by using a battery of suspension controlling dials and buttons on the center console. The Multi-terrain Select knob offers 5 suspension choices for traversing unpaved countryside (mud & sand, loose rock, mogul, rock & dirt, rock). Five speed settings for Crawl Control allow travel on extremely rough off-road surfaces at a fixed low speed without using accelerator or brake.
The Land Cruiser is also fitted with both high and low speed settings for 4 wheel drive. Since we spent our week on pavement, we selected the 4WD High setting and left it there for the duration. This choice resulted in a comfortable but never sloppy ride quality. Traction was excellent, even when we encountered a storm front that pelted the Toyota with such a torrent of water that even its high speed wipers could barely keep up with the downpour. After that rather harrowing drive, we came away marveling at the unsurpassed competence of this all terrain, all weather bank vault. One of its strongest points is the unimpeded visibility it offers in all directions, especially to the rear, where a sweeping wiper arc always keeps the aft view clear. For safeguarding you and your family, even in the worst weather, the Land Cruiser is still the standard by which all lesser SUVs are judged.
An important component in this Toyota's make-up is the 5.7 liter V8 which is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Although this combination will have you frequently visiting gas stations with an overall rating of 14MPG, there's nothing you'd rather have for towing than this 381hp V8. This engine also produces 401lb.-ft. of torque, which accounts for its monumental tow rating of 8,200lbs. The all aluminum V8 also propels the Cruiser to staggeringly fast acceleration times, considering it weighs in at 5,851 pounds. This bad boy will run from 0-60mph in 7 seconds flat, and cruise through the standing start quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 91mph. So if you tow a sizeable boat or motor home, the Land Cruiser's V8 engine, ladder frame chassis, and complex 4 wheel drive system will ensure that both you and your package will safely get where you're going.
2021 TOYOTA LAND CRUISER HE
ENGINE: 5.7 liter V8, DOHC 32-valve, aluminum block and heads, port injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 13MPG City/17 MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $89,689
HYPES: Bullet-Proof Back Country Basher
GRIPES: Going Away in 2022
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10