First Look: 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser

Today's version of the Toyota Land Cruiser may still be a capable off-roader like the original, but that and the name is about all they have in common. Over the years, the Land Cruiser has grown -- physically and philosophically -- into a luxo-barge with a wallet-busting price tag north of $69,000. For the 2013 model year, the Land Cruiser gets a few updates and yet another price bump -- to the tune of $9000 -- bringing the total to $78,765 including the $810 destination fee.

Don't faint just yet. Toyota says that the current Upgrade Package, a roughly $6,000 or so option, had a take rate of about 98 percent. To make things simpler, it will be included as standard equipment on 2013 models, thus taking up most of that jump. Among the many goodies included in the Upgrade Package are voice-activated navigation, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, color-matched rear spoiler, rain-sensing windshield wipers, center-console cooler box, headlamp cleaners, leather-trimmed steering wheel, multi-information display, Bluetooth, rear backup camera, and a JBL audio system. Also included is Toyota's new Entune multi-media system, which integrates functions from smartphones and adds apps such as Bing, OpenTable, and movietickets.com.

A number of welcomed exterior enhancements help to spruce up what many considered to be safe, soft, and staid sheet metal. The 2013 Land Cruiser receives a reworked front fascia with a new grille, headlamps, and LED daytime running lamps. The side profile features redesigned side mirrors and larger front and rear fenders that are punctuated by chrome side moldings. New multi-spoke rims are an outstanding improvement over the plain five-spoke units fitted on the current model. Out back, changes are subtle, consisting of redesigned tail-lights and the now standard spoiler. One new paint color -- Blizzard Pearl -- rounds out the exterior changes.

Updates were also made inside. The driver and front passenger receive ventilated seats, the wood trim is glossier, the instrument panel has brighter silver faces, air vents are now chrome plated, and the meter-cluster lighting unit has been updated. Also new are the Multi-terrain Monitor, heated steering wheel, Dynamic Cruise Control, and added power outlets in the rear.

Last but certainly not least are a few computer tweaks that make the Land Cruiser a more capable rock crawler. The new Multi-terrain Select system acts like a limited slip differential and adjusts wheel slip according to terrain. Also making its debut is an updated version of the CRAWL Control system with Off-Road Turn Assist. CRAWL now allows drivers to pick one of five speeds for steep or rough terrain and automatically maintains it, allowing the driver to focus on obstacle avoidance. Off-Road Turn Assist allows the Land Cruiser to make sharper turns when the road gets rough by pulsing the rear corner brakes.

Mechanically, the Land Cruiser remains the same for 2013. That means it retains its body-on-frame construction and rides on the high-tech Kinetic Dynamic Suspension (KDSS), which allows the anti-roll bars to disengage to allow for added wheel articulation when off-roading. Also carrying over are the 381-hp, 401-lb-ft 5.7-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission. During our last test of the 2010 Land Cruiser, we were left impressed with its 0-60 mph time of just 6.5 seconds. In all, these minor changes make Toyota's halo SUV even more attractive to those that aren't interested in a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class or a Range Rover. Expect to see the 2013 Land Cruiser in dealerships in February.

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