Toyota Land Cruiser: car review
A sensible choice if you need a practical and strong off-roader… and can afford it.
What is it?
The Toyota Land Cruiser is a big beastie. You’ll quickly get the sense that it will take you anywhere. Our test drives took us, largely in appalling weather, up and down steep country tracks in west Wales, where the Land Cruiser provided a sure-footed performance at all times.
Would it help me stay safe?
Yes. There are seven airbags and active front head restraints. Its sheer size is, of course, a significant advantage.
Who should buy it and how much does it cost?
Anyone looking for practicality. OK, the Land Cruiser won’t get close to some of the big luxury 4x4s, so don’t expect a five-star first-class interior and smoothness. But if you need to go anywhere, then this is unlikely to let you down. Range starts at £32,745.
Our review: Good Motoring, Winter 2012
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Getting to and from west Wales gave us plenty of motorway and main road test time; here we found the Land Cruiser a big hit in terms of space, comfort and straightforward practicality. However, driving it economically took a lot of work. For something this big, we were pleased with the fuel consumption (everything is relative, of course) that nudged 30mpg.
In general terms, there has been criticism of the single 3.0-litre diesel engine, on the grounds that it’s simply not powerful enough for a car this big (we’re talking two and a half tonnes here).We understand this point, but are inclined to disagree, and can report that its capability at the lower end of the range is excellent. That includes its ability to negotiate tough inclines and slippery field surfaces. Higher up, then it may lack the poke of some of its rivals, but we don’t think anyone would be buying it for motorway agility.
One big thing in the Land Cruiser’s favour is of course the high, commanding driving position. You’re nicely high up, you can see ahead and around – and that’s a distinct advantage. Steering, for something so big, is light and precise.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
We made full use of the vast amounts of interior space. Seats go down in any configuration, so you’re sure to find exactly the right capacity and shape for your needs. No car manufacturer yet as succeeded in creating space where there is no space, so we need to accept that activating the third row of seats will seriously reduced the boot space.
The Land Cruiser’s size makes it a relatively safe place to be. Added to this, there are seven airbags and active front head restraints. The vehicle is alarmed and there’s also a sensor system that detects if glass is broken – and warns accordingly. The stability control system will intervene if it senses you’re pushing the car beyond the limits of safety.
Every bit of kit on the Land Cruiser feels built to last. With young children included on the passenger list, you won’t be surprised to know how much of a hit the electric folding and unfolding rear seats proved. The array of switches and dials for the driver is a little daunting, but it’s something you get used to fairly quickly. Just make sure you familiarise yourself with some of the dials and switches hidden beyond the steering wheel.
Inevitably the Land Cruiser is going to be expensive. The entry level model comes in at just over £32,000, but you need to add another £20k for the top spec version. The four-cylinder diesel engine means fuel economy is less painful than you might have feared. A five-year warranty is good to have, but if you buy one, you’ll probably want to keep it working for years and years –gloomy re-sale values will encourage this.
A good choice if you need a practical and strong off-roader.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £32,745 to £52,895
Performance: 0-60mph in 11 seconds
Economy: 34.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 31
Tax: Band K (£270)