Apart from that rather famous British brand, there are few 4x4s that have heritage like the Toyota Land Cruiser. The current version – which has been updated for 2014 – builds on more than 60 years of Toyota off-roading history and can rival the very best when it comes to venturing into the rough stuff.
What is it?
What’s new then? Well, Toyota has taken its 2011 model Land Cruiser and given it a bit of a mid-life refresh. So there are new headlamp units at the front with integrated daytime running lights (DRLs), a larger, more brash grille, new rear lights and re-designed bumpers to help stop damage to those snazzy headlamps while off-roading. Inside there are some nicer plastics and a new 4.2-inch multimedia touch screen. It’s nothing major and, if anything, does nothing to make the Land Cruiser look any more attractive or feel more like a premium product.
What’s it like to drive?
This is where the Land Cruiser really starts to lose ground to the competition. It only comes with one engine – a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that develops 188bhp, and 420Nm of torque. While it gets to 60mph in a just-about-acceptable 11 seconds and returns a decent 34.9mpg, it’s a noisy unit that lacks refinement and is more at home off road than on, where it feels incredibly underpowered and strained – hardly surprising, as it’s a four-cylinder unit pulling a 2.4-tonne car.
The car’s road manners aren’t much better either. While the gearbox is smooth, the steering is lacking in precision and the whole car fidgets and bounces around. The Land Cruiser isn’t a ‘wafter’ like a Land Rover Discovery or Mercedes-Benz ML. But serious off-roaders can take comfort in the fact that the 2014 Land Cruiser remains true to its mud-plugging heritage as it has a low-range gearbox and a lockable centre differential – not to forget its all-round rugged character.
What’s it like on the inside?
The cabin is comfortable, spacious and a pleasant place to sit if you can look past the odd switchgear, and Toyota’s ‘Touch 2 Go’ multimedia touchscreen system is a delight to use. However, there’s none of the quality and style like you’d find in a Land Rover Discovery; the interior seems peppered with scratchy plastics and just seems so unimaginative – there are no nice design details for instance. That said, it all feels well put together and would likely last decades of abuse.
Is it practical?
You can have your Land Cruiser with five or seven seats and with three or five doors, although the best combination is probably the latter options, as unlike some 4x4s, the Land Cruiser can actually seat seven people in comfort thanks to that high roof. Just don’t expect to be able to carry seven people’s luggage – when the rearmost seats are used boot space shrinks from 1,151 litres to 626 litres.
Should I buy one?
If you think cars like the Land Rover Discovery are too bling and lack that killer agricultural instinct, the Toyota Land Cruiser will be ideal for your needs – it’s large, built to last and is famed for strong reliability. To be honest, the 2014 modifications have done little to warrant consideration from new car buyers; our advice would be to opt for a used version of the current generation.
Toyota Land Cruiser Icon Auto
Price: £48,195 (as tested)
Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged diesel
Top speed: 109mph
0-60mph: 11.0 seconds
Fuel economy: 34.9mpg (combined)
Emissions: 213g/km CO2