1997 Toyota Land Cruiser

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$41,188

starting MSRP

1997 Toyota Land Cruiser

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

1 trim

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

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1997 Toyota Land Cruiser review: Our expert's take

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Sadly, athletes and autos show their age when they hit 40.

So, too, do trucks, mini-vans and sport-utility vehicles, such as the Toyota Land Yacht . . . oops. . . Cruiser, the Japanese automaker’s top-of-the-line SUV, which also is the basis for the top-of-the-line LX450 sport-ute from Toyota’s luxury Lexus division.

It’s not that the Land Cruiser is squeaky, creaky or feeble at 40. But it is 40.

The 4.5-liter, 24-valve, 212-horsepower, in-line 6-cylinder engine more than admirably propels the nearly 5,000-pound ute from the light or into the passing lane or along the merger ramp. But you pay the price in feeding it; the 13-mile-per-gallon city/15-m.p.g. highway rating doesn’t allow you to stray far or long from a fuel pump even with a 25-gallon tank.

Adding to its case of consumption is the fact that the Land Cruiser offers full-time four-wheel-drive, meaning neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor sand nor steep mountains should keep it from its appointed rounds, unless you are more than 25 gallons from the next filling station.

Land Cruiser is one of those big, high-priced SUVs that survived several decades before others came out with competing big, high-priced SUVs–from the in-house LX450 to the SLX from Acura, the Navigator from Lincoln, Expedition from Ford and ML320 from Mercedes, to name just a few.

It has lots going for it, in addition to the ability to tow more than 10,000 pounds (in doing so, we suggest not looking at the fuel gauge). It can travel in all seasons and hold six adults with their luggage or golf clubs.

The backs of the second-row seats fold flat for more cargo capacity or fold and tip forward for even more space. And by tipping forward, you gain easy entry to the third row. When tipped, however, the metal seat fasteners rising uncovered from the floor serve as mini obstacles to loading and carrying objects without snagging them.

In what would be the traditional third row, the jump seats fold down from the side walls, so they can be stashed to carry more cargo.

A drawback, however: The seats are strapped to the side walls, and there’s enough play in them that they thump when you’re coming out of most corners and turns–an annoyance in a $40,000 machine.

One of the attractions of a 4WD SUV is that it sits high for added road clearance along with a panoramic view of the road and scenery. But when road surfaces are dry, and large P275/70R16 tires are added, the height and raised center of gravity can leave you feeling wobbly in a sharp turn at speed.

For a 4WD SUV, which tends to ride a bit rough and truck-like, the Land Cruiser suspension provided a surprisingly pleasant cushion against road harshness in vertical movement on uneven pavement. Very luxury sedan-like ride from this big brute ute.

And Land Cruiser comes with dual air bags and four-wheel anti-lock brakes as standar d, which, with full-time 4WD, makes for a complete package.

A couple of problems, however, one being a rather narrow cabin in which the door armrests and the very large center console compartmentalizes front-seat occupants. We would like a little more room to roam–or at least stretch.

And what’s the reason for four (count ’em, four) coin holders in the center console. The console also has two cupholders, but one is immediately behind the gearshift lever, the other under the driver’s elbow below the seat. Coins you can get to; cups are a challenge.

Finally, there is a fine line between “recognizable” styling and “way-too-conservative-and-isn’t-it-about-time-for-a-change-after-40-years” design.

Too often automotive designers insist the new model should look like the old one so consumers can recognize it. If people can find their way home at night in the dark, you’d think they’d be able to distinguish a new design in the vehicle they drive to that ho se.

Land Cruiser needs a makeover and one is coming. A major redesign is in the works for shortly after the first of the year, which means a remake for the Lexus LX450 as well. The Lexus reportedly will be designated the LX470, signifying an engine change from the 4.5-liter to a 4.7-liter, which would mean Land Cruiser will get new power as well.

Land Cruiser needs fresh styling, more interior room, improved mileage and revised interior layout so you can reach a cup as easily as you can a quarter and can lay a sheet of plywood on the floor without it getting pockmarks from the metal-seat fasteners.

A redesign and upgrade of features and equipment is even more important now that Mercedes-Benz is coming out with its stylish, roomy, comfortable, fuel-efficient (17 m.p.g. city/21 m.p.g. highway with a 215-h.p. 6) and technology-/gadget-laden ML320 sport-ute starting at $35,000, which compares with a $41,068 base for the Land Cruiser before the $5,549 anniversary package is added.

>> 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Wheelbase: 112.2 inches Length: 189.9 inches Engine: 4.5-liter, 212-h.p., 24-valve 6 Transmission: 4-speed automatic EPA mileage: 13 m.p.g. city/15 m.p.g. highway Base price: $41,068 Price as tested: $49,492. Includes $5,549 for 40th Anniversary package with automatic climate control, leather power seats, slide-open rear quarter windows, privacy glass, leather-wrapped steering wheel, bodyside moldings, 40th anniversary badging and floor mats and alloy wheels; $945 for premium AM/FM with cassette/CD and nine speakers; $825 for front- and rear-locking differentials; and $1,105 for power tilt/slide moonroof. Add $420 for freight. Pluses: A yacht that can haul a yacht. Full-time four-wheel-drive. Potent 4.5-liter engine. Stands high for down-the-road vision. Suspension cushions vertical movement to reduce cabin harshness. Rear seats store in side wall when not needed to increase stowage room. Dual air bags and ABS standard. Minuses: With full-time 4WD and potent engine it thirsts for fuel. Stands so high you feel top heavy at times, like in turns. Rear seats along side walls thump in corners and turns in the raised position. In need of styling remake. >>

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.7
  • Interior design 3.9
  • Performance 3.6
  • Value for the money 3.7
  • Exterior styling 4.0
  • Reliability 4.0

Most recent consumer reviews

4.6

Amazing vehicle!

Owned my 1997 Land Cruiser for 12 years. Never felt me stranded, very reliable. The three factory installed lockers are great for driving in snow, ice, mud, etc. Repairs are expensive compared to a Corrola, but much less than a BMW or Mercedes. Not sure why people complain on a $800 Land Cruiser valve cover seal replacement but are ok to pay $4000 for the same job on a BMW at the dealers. The Land Cruiser will last for ever. Hold its value. Many have reached the 300,000 miles. I have seen a Land Cruiser with 750,000 miles, original engine and transmission. Says a lot about its quality and durability.

4.6

Best vehicle I have ever owned!

I live in TN, and flew to CA to buy my LC. It was a one owner that took care of it and I drove it home. Now 10 years later, it looks & rides great. Now I take care of it, but it takes care of me. At 278,000 miles and going, it's never any trouble. Just regular maintenance and it will last forever. My LC is in mint condition and I hope to keep it to the day I pass. The only 2 draw backs to this truck is the mpg and back seat room. The mpg. It stinks! 13/14 in city and 15/16 on highway. The best I ever got was coming out of Denver with a wind behind me at 17.5 mpg. My model is 4WD at all times. So this is why the mpg suffers! The back seat might be good for most, but with boys at 6'6 and 6'9 what can accommodate them! Great truck if you can find one well taken care of regardless of the miles. The 6 cylinder- inline engine is ironclad solid. You can't hardly tear them up! Just take care of them once you get one, they're rare here is the states, as I was told that many were shipped to the Middle East by eager buyers during the so called gas shortage many years back here in the states.

1.3

headgasket headaches

These vehicles are lemons, all of them. Cut your losses and sell it to some kid who will roll it over trying to climb a four foot tall rock.

See all 8 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Toyota
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
7 years/less than 85,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12, 000 miles
Powertrain
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
160- or 174-point inspections
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors

1998

Land Rover Discovery

$35,000

starting MSRP

1999

Lexus LX 470

$56,205

starting MSRP

1996

Lexus LX 450

$47,500

starting MSRP

See all 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser articles