A CERTAIN Midlands-based maker of luxury 4x4s might be hogging the limelight, but that doesn’t mean alternative options have disappeared into the shadows. Toyota’s Land Cruiser might not be the choice of fashion-conscious buyers, but those in the know routinely view it as a different sort of icon.
And the reward for such appreciation among the Land Cruiser fraternity is a mild refresh of the car in question. It might be a little ‘blink and you miss it’ but it’s a testament to the Land Cruiser that it was right first time when current model was first launched late in the last decade.
Keen-eyed observers will notice changes to the car’s front bumper and grille, while it’s good to see the inclusion of high-power xenon headlights and LED daylight running lights. On closer examination the car’s side mirrors gain indicator repeaters and the car’s rear light clusters have also changed.
It’s under the skin, however, where the more meaningful changes have been made, with Toyota’s diesel 4.5-litre V8 motor now a cleaner unit. Boasting a useful CO2 drop from 270g/km to 250g/km and a corresponding uplift in the combined fuel economy to 29.7mpg, the big 4x4 should be a little easier on the wallet.
The innovation continues with the inclusion of improved 4x4-centric technology, such as user-adjustable crawl speed settings to help cope with particularly challenging terrain, a power steering system tuned to deliver more driver confidence and a camera system to help you get through tight spaces. Don’t forget, this is on top of the car’s already impressive height adjustable suspension system and solid transmission complete with six-speed auto gearbox.
In real terms this Land Cruiser carries on the brand’s long-standing tradition of being able to go anywhere with effortless precision and peace of mind. In the right hands it feels unstoppable.
On the road no 4x4 this big will handle like a sports car, but this Land Cruiser performs better than you’d expect for something this size. What makes this generation more appealing is the fact that all the previous rough edges have been rounded off to compliment the car’s more luxurious cabin and market positioning.
For the UK there is only one V8 option, essentially a model with almost everything thrown at it. Leather, multi-zone climate control, colour touchscreen sat-nav plus comprehensive entertainment system, cruise control, electric everything, seven seats and more storage space than you’ll ever need.
At the back, the tailgate splits Range Rover-style to reveal a good size boot. When not in use the rear most pair of seats can be quickly folded to one side. Why not fold flat into the boot you ask? Well, in some countries the Land Cruiser can be had with bigger fuel tanks – space that the seats would otherwise occupy. And when you’re in the Australian Outback, miles from anywhere, it’s important to have plenty of fuel.
That said, the rear seats are perfectly suited to children, as is the rest of the car – it’s surprisingly family friendly. Sure, the leather might not be toddler-proof, but there’s no reason why a Land Cruiser couldn’t replace a large estate car if your lifestyle or routine changes. And with such a comprehensive list of standard kit bordering on Lexus levels of generosity, Toyota’s no compromise approach extends well beyond its desire to be an off-road champion.
In light of the competition and the Land Cruiser’s relative low visibility on UK roads, it’s easy to misunderstand Toyota’s flagship 4x4. It’s more than just another premium SUV; it will do all the usual SUV things, but it will also keep going when regular rivals cry enough. And it will do it all with the calm consideration of something sporting a Toyota badge.
For the thoughtful few in search of such a vehicle, the Land Cruiser will be the right one for them. The good news is that the experience is now even better.
FACTS AT A GLANCE Model: Toyota Land Cruiser V8, from £65,195 on the road. Engine: 4.5-litre V8 diesel unit developing 268bhp. Transmission: 6-speed auto transmission as standard, driving all four wheels. Performance: Maximum speed 130mph, 0-62mph 8.9 seconds. CO2 emissions: 250g/km. Economy: 29.7mpg.