One of The perks Of The job is that we get to keep our 4x4 of the Year winner for a long-term test. Depending on the vehicle, this could be a blessing or a curse. In this case the '08 Land Cruiser held up its end of the bargain. When you need to be wrapped in luxury and leather for the long haul, the trail, or a Kmart trip, the Land Cruiser fits the bill. Whatever the situation, the Land Cruiser handles it with aplomb. Of course it has its drawbacks, but first the good stuff.
Fitted with the 5.7L V-8 engine, the heavy beast still moves out smartly, even when weighed down with seven people and their gear. While towing, the LC never faltered, even though our most respectable mileage figure was 17, with a miserable 9 towing and a daily average of 14 mpg. Especially when gas hit over four bucks a gallon, this wasn't our most favored ride. But its stability at speed, nimbleness enough in town, and confidence in the outback proved that we were correct in choosing the Land Cruiser as last year's winner.
The Crawl Control feature allows for three different speeds of creepy-crawly action. This
Off road the Cruiser had to make its mind up due to the lack of solid-axle lockers, except when we engaged Crawl Control. This brake-based traction control system is so unique and advanced that it can easily get an inexperienced driver far over his head off road, such as on a loose, steep hillclimb. The system works phenomenally well, but when it quits because traction doesn't exceed gravity, the driver can be in trouble. Backing this size of beast down from where it shouldn't be in the first place without a skilled touch can be a chore.
However, in regular 4-Lo the chattering from the traction control system can be annoying to the point where you want to weld the spider gears together on the spot. In the mud, the system just can't cope with spin and traction at the same time, and it leaves you backing out while fearing the worst instead of venturing forth with confidence. Of course the P-metric street tires don't help a bit here, so our mudding forays were few.
In typical suburban environs, this Land Cruiser is tops. For our uses we were fortunate enough to get a second one for a project, which Tech Editor Fred Williams has been using and abusing. Look forward to the escapades of the Silver Bullet in future issues, as we roll the miles up in a Land Cruiser modified to our style of living.