With seven seats and a flood of off-road driving aids, the Toyota Land Cruiser is as versatile as it is big.
Buyers are getting a whole lot of size and capability with no small amount of technology crammed in …
Toyota’s Land Cruiser is the preferred mode of transport in some of the world’s harshest environments, so it’s a safe bet that it will be up to most of what UK buyers can put it through. A raft of high-tech features on the latest model are designed to improve its manners on the tarmac where it will spend a lot of its time, but entry level cars do without much of this, not to mention the clever seating system.
Versatility is a trait to which lots of cars lay claim but for a true decathlete of the automotive world, the Toyota Land Cruiser is hard to see past. Solar eclipse generating dimensions and all-wheel-drive trickery have seen Toyota’s family-size off-roader sell five million units in almost 180 countries over a tenure spanning six decades. The latest model attempts to install yet more flexibility to the Land Cruiser’s hulking frame but at a time when new cars are being designed to fill more specialised roles, is this one-size-fits-all behemoth quite as relevant?
Most 4x4 vehicles will happily cover terrain that’s far more hazardous than the average owner would ever countenance driving over. The fact that the average Laud Cruiser owner could be anyone from a Kenyan safari guide to a Siberian mining contractor is a good indication of just how adept the big Toyota is when the going gets muddy/sandy/icy/snowy/rocky (delete as appropriate). Of course, opportunities to put a car like the Land Cruiser to the test off-road are less commonplace in the UK, so today’s Land Cruiser also incorporates a spacious seven-seat interior bristling with creature comforts as well as specialist technology to brush up its manners on boring old tarmac.
There’s one engine, a 3.0-litre D-4D diesel that’s matched to a five-speed automatic transmission. This four-cylinder unit is not new to the Land Cruiser, having been the main power option in the previous generation car, but it is tough, reliable and packing lots of torque. There’s 171bhp to call upon which isn’t a whole lot in something this large but the 410Nm maximum torque is available from 1,600 to 2,800rpm, so the Land Cruiser should feel livelier than its 11.7s 0-60mph time and 109mph top speed lead you to expect.
Attempting to produce a car that’s good on the road and off it is a major challenge for automotive engineers. The ground clearance, absorbent suspension and wheel articulation that are necessary in the rough aren’t conducive to a nimble feel on the blacktop where a low centre of gravity, composed ride and resistance to body roll are paramount. To get around this, all bar the basic Land Cruiser models employ the advanced KDSS Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that adjusts the vehicle’s anti-roll bars to suit the driving conditions – increasing rigidity on the road or cutting the Land Cruiser some slack when negotiating big obstacles.
The vehicle’s body itself is 11 per cent stiffer than that of the previous generation model and top spec versions also benefit from Toyota’s AVS self-levelling air-suspension system that lets the driver select from a series of ride height and damper settings according to the terrain.
The Land Cruiser’s size (4,760mm long and 1,885mm wide) means that while owners are driving theirs to the ends of the earth, they can take lots of people with them. The vehicle can be specified with five seats or as a seven-seater with the Toyota Easy Flat Seating system that’s used on the marque’s MPVs. On Easy Flat models, the second row is split 40:20:40 with reclining seatbacks and the capacity to slide up to 135mm back and forth to adjust the legroom. The lowering action of the outermost seats is powered by electric motors to make access to the rear more straightforward.
The Land Cruiser isn’t about to win any prizes for design innovation. It’s pretty much your typical large 4x4 - bluff fronted and imposing with few concessions to elegance. Distinctive flat-topped wheelarches, a bold sill line and powerful haunches catch the eye. In the cabin, the build is predictably robust and a lot of attention has been paid to the storage options which include a large box in the centre console that can be fitted with a fridge unit.
Land Cruisers are expensive things but buyers are getting a whole lot of size and capability with no small amount of technology crammed in – even on the entry-level versions. Climate control, cruise control, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth compatibility and 17" alloy wheels are amongst the features on the ‘basic’ LC3 models. There’s also safety kit that runs to an advanced traction and stability control system, seven airbags, ABS and active front headrests.
The LC4 models look more appealing with the KDSS dynamic suspension, leather trim, satellite navigation and the seven-berth Easy Flat seating system as standard. At the LC5 level, the air suspension option is standard, along with a rear seat entertainment system and Multi-terrain Select, which is Toyota’s answer to Land Rover’s popular Terrain Response system.
Multi-terrain Select applies different settings to the Land Cruiser’s various systems to optimise performance on the kind of terrain the vehicle happens to be crossing. The integrated Multi-terrain Monitor feeds images from four cameras back to the central display screen to enhance the driver’s view of the surroundings, helping prevent unintended interfaces with said terrain.
Nobody is going to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser expecting miracles on the running costs front but the vehicle’s 35mpg combined cycle fuel economy and 214g/km emissions should come as a pleasant surprise. Toyota’s D-4D common-rail diesel engine technology has helped the marque establish itself as one of the leaders in the low CO2 field recently and it seems that even the mighty Land Cruiser is benefiting.
It’s not easy to create a vehicle that’s good to drive on the road and extremely adept off it. So much so that, many manufacturers have given-up trying, pushing their 4x4 products in a more road-biased direction instead. Toyota’s Land Cruiser remains intent on doing it all and the latest model employs a glut of technological trickery to help. Healthy worldwide sales figures throughout its 60-year history indicate that Toyota knows what it’s doing with its big 4x4 but there are questions over how many UK residents really need this kind of towering capability. Whatever the answer, it’s certain that very few cars will do what a Land Cruiser does better than a Land Cruiser.