Toyota Land Cruiser gets more tech and an 8-speed auto for 2016

The current-generation Toyota Land Cruiser is celebrating its eighth birthday this year. To keep it looking fresh, Toyota has given the body-on-frame behemoth a mid-cycle facelift that brings a long list of upgrades inside and out.

Updated 8-18-2015 by Ronan Glon: Added U.S. market-specific information, pictures.

The bulk of the visual changes are found up front, where the Land Cruiser gets a brawny chromed grille with horizontal slats, more modern-looking headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, as well as a revised lower bumper that gains a strip of chrome trim and small fog lights. In select markets, notably the Middle East, buyers willing to trade off-road prowess for a sportier look can order a full body kit at an extra cost.

Out back, the changes are limited to a revised rear bumper and new-look LED lights. New door handles, two new paint colors called Copper Brown and Onyx Blue, respectively, and additional alloy wheel designs wrap up the exterior modifications.

For 2016, Toyota has made its flagship SUV even more posh by adding more soft-touch material throughout the cabin, a wireless phone charger and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 10-inch screens. Finally, a new center console integrates a cooler box, cupholders and an additional USB port.

The Land Cruiser is safer than ever thanks to new driving aids such as Frontal Collision Avoidance, Front Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Alert, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, automatic high beams, a rear-view camera and adaptive cruise control. All of the aforementioned features come standard.

Bucking the auto industry’s downsizing trend, the 2016 Cruiser is powered by a time-tested 5.7-liter V8 engine that makes 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a full-time four-wheel drive system, but last year’s six-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a new eight-speed unit. A standard Towing Package allows the off-roader to tow up to 8,500 pounds.

In Australia, one of its biggest markets, it carries on with either a 4.5-liter twin-turbocharged diesel-powered V8 engine tuned to make 268 horsepower — six more than last year — and a volcano-awakening 480 lb-ft of torque, or a 4.6-liter, gasoline-burning V8 rated at 304 ponies and 323 lb-ft of twist.

The updated 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser will go on sale across the nation before the end of the year. Pricing information will be published in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date.

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