The Land Cruiser is geared up for any challenge no matter how tough. And it’s a credit to the vehicle’s staying power the number of older models seen on the roads today. Driven by a powerful engine and boasting great safety features, this is an instant contender for the king of the road crown.
The goodBig, beefy and has go-anywhere capabilities
The badFierce competition from rivals these days
Toyota Land Cruiser Utility 2.8 Diesel Auto (five-door, five-seat)
It’s not very often you take a week’s holiday and have a carefree glint in your eye when severe storms with flood warnings are forecast. But it’s not every day you are driving the unassailable Toyota Land Cruiser either.
That was my scenario for a break in Devon as storms swept the west coast of England. But flash floods, torrential downpours and gale force winds couldn’t put the dampers on the holiday thanks to the hard-core SUV with ‘proper’ off road capabilities.
The new 2018 Land Cruiser boasts a more robust exterior and also has improved quality throughout the car. And the line-up now features a back-to-basics model aimed at commercial customers that is stripped of many creature comforts. And that’s the model we clocked up 900 miles in during our week-long break.
The new entry-level Utility version in five-door guise (there is a three-door version) is priced at £37,090, although metallic paint added a further £700 to the cost of our test car. Like the rest of the line-up, it was powered by a 2.8-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine delivering 177PS of power and 420Nm of torque. Despite its larger-than-life dimensions, the performance figures are quite impressive with a 0-62mph sprint time of 12.1 seconds, maximum speed of 108mph and combined fuel economy of 38.1mpg with carbon emissions of 194g/km.
One glance in the direction of the Land Cruiser will leave you in little doubt that it means business and is a go-anywhere vehicle. It boasts a bold, muscular stance, tinted rear windows, a blacked-out grille, sweeping light clusters, roof rails and chunky wheels.
You literally have to climb up into the cabin (there are grab handles to assist) and the interior is neatly designed with practicality in mind. There are lots of wipe-clean, hard-plastic surfaces that would look cheap on a soft-roader, but are just perfect for the Land Cruiser. Other features include Bluetooth to connect a smartphone, along with a six-speaker sound system and air conditioning. Our car also had a CD player which is quite rare these days.
If, however, you like to surround yourself with luxury and lots of techno treats then simply move up the four-trim scale to Invincible for the likes of Toyota Touch 2 with Go for a full navigation set-up including real time traffic updates and speed camera warnings, a 14-speaker JBL sound system, a rearview camera, plus front with rear parking sensors and triple zone air conditioning.
Despite its bulky dimensions – the Land Cruiser measures 4.8 metres in length and is 1.8 metres wide – it doesn’t take long to get confident behind the wheel and feel comfortable with the way the vehicle handles. The Land Cruiser weighs 2.2 tonnes so it’s not exactly a lightweight model to throw around bends, but it can be pushed along at quite a click. Motorway driving is effortless and the engine is happy cruising at national speed limits. And thanks to its size it won’t be fazed by any sudden gusts of wind.
Out on the twisting country lanes, the high-seated driving position offers a commanding view of the road ahead and above the hedgerows. Any sharper bends need to be treated with a degree of respect as there is a fair amount of body sway if attacked too eagerly, but generally the road-holding is very assured.
Then in busy town centres, the Land Cruiser proved deceptively agile and easy to manoeuvre. The lack of any parking sensors or a rearview camera takes a little getting used to, but it’s worth remembering this is the entry level model.
On the practicality front, the Land Cruiser is a winner with ample space for five adults to travel in comfort and they can bring all the luggage they want too. That’s because the boot can swallow 640 litres of kit – a limit that increases to 1,270 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. The boot is accessed via a side-hinged door that is fine unless someone parks too close behind you. Elsewhere, there are deep door pockets, cup holders, a glovebox, a dual-compartment central bin and some trays.
Although we didn’t venture away from the Tarmac apart from some muddy tracks on this occasion, the Land Cruiser will not be deterred by any of Mother Nature’s more destructive mood swings. It can wade through water up to 700mm deep, has ground clearance of 215mm, can climb at 42 degrees and it can also tow a caravan or trailer weighing up to three tonnes.
On the safety front, the higher up the trim grade you go, the more equipment you get. Our Utility model featured electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, vehicle stability control, trailer sway control, active traction control, multi-terrain ABS, Isofix settings and numerous airbags. The higher grades get the Toyota Safety Sense system which includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist and automatic high beam.
All in all, the Land Cruiser is excellent fun and a vehicle you feel almost indestructible in. And with prices ranging from £34,690 to £54,040, a choice of four trim levels, manual or automatic transmissions, three-or five door body styles and five or seven seat versions, there is a model out there to suit all needs and budgets.
Toyota Land Cruiser LC5 3.0 D-4D 5dr
There’s no denying it – the weather is getting worse every year and even the UK is being subjected to some truly dreadful wintry driving conditions.
And while it may not be the most environmentally-friendly vehicle on the planet, there is one thing that is guaranteed if you drive a Toyota Land Cruiser – a few inches of snow will not interfere with your day to day lifestyle.
You see this monster of a vehicle comes fitted with bumper-sized tyres and all the off-roading credentials you could dream of to take on the toughest and roughest terrains possible.
It’s a fact, the Land Cruiser will not leave that many vehicles standing at the lights but it does boast a top speed of 109mph – although it could take some time getting there.
But that aside, the Land Cruiser is quite a deceptive model and surprisingly handles with great agility and the excellent all-round visibility makes manoeuvrability very easy. Although, it has to be said, the parking sensors do make life a lot easier in tight parking spaces.
There are plenty of creature comforts throughout the cabin including cruise control, sat nav, an excellent sound system and even UV-protecting glass.
And the designers have given plenty of consideration to the positioning of all the dials, controls and levers which are all within easy reach so there is very little distraction to the driver.
The spacious cabin can comfortably accommodate eight people thanks to two rear seats that can easily be swivelled and folded away when not in use to open up a vast storage area.
But, for me this vehicle is rather like a caged animal that dreams of its release into the wilder terrains and when Mother Nature plays her part and drops a foot of snow on us, you can almost hear it purr with delight as you start the engine.
Basically, the Land Cruiser can tackle anything that’s thrown in its path with ease and to be perfectly blunt, the tougher the challenge the more fun you can have.
Loaded with a massive list of safety specifications such as anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, eight airbags and the world’s first hill-start assist, the Land Cruiser really is a vehicle for all seasons… particularly the tougher ones.