Maybe you CAN buy happiness

Money might not be able to buy happiness, but if you have enough of it, you can buy a Toyota Land Cruiser. So maybe you can buy happiness.

You don’t see many Toyota Land Cruisers off the pavement in the United States. In my opinion, that’s a crying shame. These things are built for the boonies, even though the American models are all decked out with luxury goodies.

The fancy stuff like seat heaters and chillers, rear-seat entertainment systems, automatic high beams and water-sensing windshield wipers shouldn’t keep them out of the woods, but I think most people who pay $85,000 for a vehicle would rather keep it clean, unscratched and undented.

With all the creature comforts inside, it’s easy to overlook the off-road capability. Like the 9.1 inches of ground clearance, which is better than most other SUVs. Or the 32 degree angle of approach, and the 24 degree angle of departure. Those angles allow you to get the Land Cruiser just about anywhere you want to go. And the 5.7-liter V8 gives it enough power to get there. If you can’t fit everything you want inside, even with the large cargo area behind the second row of seats, the Land Cruiser can tow up to 8,100 pounds, with a tongue weight on the trailer of 850 pounds.

The most surprising thing about the Land Cruiser was the fuel economy. I expected a full-size luxury SUV, especially one with a big V8, to get terrible mileage. But while I was driving it, I got 19 miles to the gallon. That’s even better than the EPA estimates of 13 miles to the gallon in the city and 18 on the highway.

My only complaint is that you can’t get a stripped-down version of the Land Cruiser in the United States. I wish they’d offer one with all the off-road capability, but with none of the luxury stuff inside. It would definitely get more of them out in the backcountry – where the Land Cruiser belongs.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Model tested: Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD
Base price: $84,325
Price as tested: $86,722
Options installed: 50-state emissions; terra semi-aniline perforated leather interior; paint protection film; cargo net; carpeted floor/cargo mat set; wheel locks; wireless headphones; 7-pin to 4-pin adapter; glass breakage sensor; emergency assistance kit

Engine: 5.7-liter V8, 32-valve, DOHC
Horsepower: 381 hp at 5,600 rpm
Torque: 401 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm

EPA estimated fuel economy: 13 city, 18 highway
Note: I got a combined 19 mpg during the week I drove the Land Cruiser

Towing capacity: 8,100 pounds, 850-pound tongue weight

Ground clearance: 9.1 inches
Angle of approach: 32 degrees
Angle of departure: 24 degrees
Breakover angle: 21 degrees

Cargo volume:
With middle row folded and rear row removed: 81.7 cubic inches
With third row folded: 43 cubic inches
Behind third row: 16.1 cubic inches

A note about the Land Cruiser: Of all the SUVs I’ve ever tested, the Toyota Land Cruiser is my absolute favorite. Granted, some of that might come from the comfort of the ride, the luxurious interior, and the beautiful fit and finish. Land Cruisers are certainly luxury vehicles, and Toyota doesn’t cut any corners making them extravagant. But Toyota also doesn’t sacrifice any of the off-road ability to make them luxurious. But they can still get you wherever you want to go, if you’re brave enough to take your $85,000 vehicle off the pavement.