1993 Toyota Land Cruiser

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1993 Toyota Land Cruiser

Available in 1 styles:  Land Cruiser shown
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12 city / 15 hwy


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Orlando Sentinel

From the least expensive $7,000 Tercel to the most expensive $55,000 Lexus, I think Toyota offers the best lineup of vehicles of any manufacturer.

I have not tested any other brand of vehicles that is as consistently well-built and that offers the level of comfort, reliability and long-term value of Toyota's products.

But there are a few weak links in Toyota's chain of vehicles. The Previa minivan, though a very stylish vehicle, is an underpowered and sluggish performer because of its anemic four-cylinder engine. The expensive T100 full-size pickup also is short on power. It is outfitted with a V-6 instead of a V-8.

And then there's this week's test vehicle, the big Land Cruiser sport-utility vehicle.

In recent years, the Land Cruiser has been given a new engine, fresh styling and a more luxurious interior.

But the new engine and the cosmetic improvements can't hide the fact that the Land Cruiser's suspension system performs like something created in the 1950s.

PERFORMANCE

The engine is one of the problems with the Land Cruiser.

albeit a very good one - for almost $40,000. For that sizable pile of money, I would expect nothing less than a powerful, muscular V-8, similar to what you might find in a $40,000 Range Rover or a $28,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The Land Cruiser's new 4.5-liter, 212-horsepower engine has double overhead cams, 24 valves and six cylinders. It delivers reasonable performance, except for when you need fast acceleration.

Because the engine has to work hard, fuel mileage is horrendous.

On a long road trip with the cruise control engaged and the air conditioner running, the Land Cruiser delivered just 14 miles per gallon. And that was with just two people and some minor baggage aboard.

In stop-and-go city driving, that figure plunged to somewhere around 10 miles per gallon.

The Land Cruiser is outfitted with an excellent computer-controlled four-speed automatic transmission and an electrically operated four-wheel-drive system.

I found that the six-cylinder did offer good low-range power. On a sandy beach in low gear, the engine offered tenacious performance through terrain that might have stopped a lesser vehicle.

HANDLING

The Land Cruiser has solid axles, shock absorbers and coil springs front and rear, a setup that has been around for decades.

Deep potholes or other large irregularities on the road surface will cause the Land Cruiser to bounce annoyingly. Other sport-utility vehicles I have tested, such as the Chevrolet Blazer and Jeep Grand Cherokee, also bounce over rough terrain, but those vehicles do a better job of isolating the passengers from the shock.

The Land Cruiser's power-assisted recirculating ball steering system is dull, vague and lifeless. It is very slow to return to center after a sharp turn. On the road, I noticed the steering seemed to have too much play, and it tended to let the veh icle wander a bit. I found myself constantly making small corrections to keep the vehicle straight.

However, Land Cruiser's four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are excellent. The pedal has a solid feel, and the ABS engages quietly.

Fit and finish

If the Land Cruiser falls short in its road manners, it makes up for it with an interior of Lexus quality.

Our test vehicle came with a gorgeous gray leather interior. The front power-adjustable bucket seats are the best I can remember in a sport-utility vehicle. Inflatable supports allow the driver and passenger to configure the seat to provide extra stiffness for the lower back area.

The dash is a nice-looking sculpted affair with a logical layout for the switches and air-conditioner controls.

A full set of cleanly styled analog gauges allows the driver a quick and unobstructed read on all vital functions.

From the outside, the Land Cruiser looks huge. But it's part of a nifty optical illusion. On the insides pace is at a premium, especially for rear passengers.

Leg room is just adequate for average -sized adults who sit in the second row of seats.

Two additional seats fold down - Land Rover style - from the sides of the cargo area in back, but they really can't be used by adults. Because these jump seats sit flat on the cargo floor, knees end up being about face-level.

The Land Cruiser is one of the oldest nameplates in Toyota's lineup. It was created in the 1950s as a competitor to the famous British Land Rover, the rugged no-nonsense off-road vehicle that conquered Africa and Australia.

Only 8,000 Land Cruisers are sold in the United States each year, said Toyota spokesman Jim Fewel in California. He said that most of them are fully outfitted like our test vehicle.

A V-8 engine - or any other major upgrade - is not likely soon, he said.

Truett's tip: Toyota has worked hard to improve the looks, performance and comfort of its full-size sport-utility vehicle. But the Land Cruiser still falls far short of lesser-priced vehicles in acceleration and handling.

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