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Toyota Lander Cruiser serious off-road 4x4 bruiser

12:03 18 February 2016

Toyota Land Cruiser is a rugged, go-anywhere 4x4 that is now more capable on road.

Toyota Land Cruiser is a rugged, go-anywhere 4x4 that is now more capable on road.

Toyota

Toyota’s Land Cruiser has a reputation for rugged reliability over six decades but this workhorse has also developed into a niche lifestyle vehicle, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

I have a relative Down Under who ventures into the Outback, camps near crocs and pits man and machine against Western Australia’s 1,850km Canning Stock Route – the longest historic stock route in the world.

He drives a Toyota Land Cruiser. Ask him why and he answers: “So I don’t die”. He puts his trust in the Land Cruiser’s go-anywhere ability in the roughest, inhospitable terrain to get him there… and back.

That’s why more than five million have been sold worldwide since 1955.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Price: Toyota Land Cruiser Invincible 2.8 D-4D auto £54,895 (three-door £35,895; five-door from £37,695)

Engine: 2,755cc, 174bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 12.7 seconds; top speed 109mph

MPG: Urban 30.7; extra urban 44.8; combined 38.2

CO2 emissions: 194g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 33%

Insurance group: 41A (out of 50)

Warranty: Five years or 100,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,780mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,885mm; H 1,890mm

Monster motor

There’s nothing subtle about this 4x4, particularly the five-door, seven-seat model. It’s big, bulky, boxy and built to be a tough, dependable and long-lasting workhorse.

This ninth-generation range was given a mid-life facelift a couple of years ago but you wouldn’t call the three and five-door models pretty.

And, despite a host of technology, gadgetry and off-road wizardry, the Land Cruiser is still a traditional 4x4 with the body built on to a durable ladder chassis which is at the heart of its off-road prowess.

Under the bonnet

There’s still only one engine – a new 2.8-litre, four-cylinder unit. Despite being a little less powerful than the old 3.0-litre – 174bhp is also down on most rivals – it has more low-down pull with the new six-speed automatic version delivering a hefty 450 Newton metres of torque from 1,600 to 2,400rpm – what you need for hauling a 4x4 weighing up to 2.4 tonnes up a slippery hill.

Compared to silky, six-cylinder prestige sport utility vehicles, the Land Cruiser can seem a bit rough and uncouth but that is the nature of the beast.

It’s not fast but cruises comfortably at motorway speeds but, despite better economy and emissions, I saw 25mpg running around with a best of 33mpg on a run, evening out around 28mpg.

How it drives

The Land Cruiser’s heavy-duty suspension was always going to be a compromise on road. Toyota has tried to make progress as compliant as possible with mid-range Icon and Invincible models’ dynamic kinetic suspension system electronically optimising the anti-roll bars to suppress body roll, improve steering and absorb poor surfaces. It copes quite well but body control becomes a little wayward and floaty at speed on undulating roads.

Invincible gets adaptive variable suspension with comfort, normal and sport damping modes but even in the softest setting there’s a lot of feedback from the road surface.

At the wheel

You’ll love the commanding driving position but the fascia feels dated, not helped by wood trim, but the Land Cruiser is a workhorse and this is the office so it’s important everything is easy to reach and use when you want – even if I did have to look up what some of the controls do as the Invincible is fully loaded.

There are buttons and knobs for low and high-ratio four-wheel drive, locking the centre and rear differentials, raising and lowering ride height, multi-terrain select to maximise traction and grip be it on mud and sand, loose rock or rock with a monitor to show hidden areas immediately around the vehicle and you can even set the off-road crawl speed so you can take your foot off the throttle.

In the cabin

The five-door Land Cruiser is a spacious seven-seater – you can even carry small adults in the two rearmost seats for short trips. The 40/20/40 split middle row seats slide through 135mm to vary the legroom bias and, with those 50/50 third row seats electrically folded flat into the boot floor, load space. With all seven seats in use load space is limited to a handful of bags of shopping but five-seat mode opens up a 621-litre load bay, albeit with a high floor and 1,151 litres with all seats folded.

Some trim and plastics feel no better than in a Toyota a third of the price but they are hard-wearing.

Final say

At nearly £55,000, flagship Invincible is as serious an outlay as the Land Cruiser is a 4x4. Take into account the generous equipment, off-road hardware, go-anywhere ability and legendary reliability and it doesn’t seem quite so steep.

And if you’re in the Australian Outback, and want the best chance of getting home safely, you may consider it a small price for peace of mind.

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