Toyota Land Cruiser: road test

Posted on February 19th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

A luxury, practical beast… great off-road but wallowy on the highway.

Toyota Land Cruiser: road test

nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image

What is it?

The Toyota Land Cruiser is a tough, capable and capacious go-anywhere seven-seater that feels at home on the high-hedged lanes of the countryside but more than holds its own on longer motorway journeys, too.

How safe is it?

The version we tested boasts an extra rear view mirror for keeping an eye on back seat passengers. There’s also a blind spot warning, Lane Change Assist, 4-wheel Active Height Control and a dashboard reversing camera.

Who should buy one?

Anyone who won’t baulk at the inevitably high cost of buying, running and refuelling something this big. Also, if you’re looking specifically for off-road capability, then this deserves to be a strong contender.

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Toyota Land Cruiser: road test

Once upon a time, the Land Cruiser was a capable but basic go-anywhere vehicle. Today’s version retains all the capability (with a number of features added to enhance its performance and safety in this regard), but takes account of the fact that we want to climb mountains and ford streams in greater comfort. Or probably closer to the truth is the fact that some buyers believe in big, and they’re more likely to be in transit from affluent neighbourhood to school, gym or retail park than across the Sahara, the sub-Arctic or – in our case – rural mid Wales.
Something as big as the Toyota Land Cruiser definitely benefits from a nice light foot to make the fuel go further. Its four-cylinder, three-litre diesel engine is controlled by a five-speed automatic gearbox. Power delivery is smooth and consistent; acceleration is adequate, but not especially responsive; we have driven sprightlier rivals.
The high-up position makes for confidence on rural roads, where visibility can so often be compromised by hedges, trees and foliage.
Although we didn’t formally venture off road during the period of test, we had plenty of opportunity to assess the Land Cruiser’s capability on ice and snow. Grip was excellent, assisted no doubt by the on-board wizardry which includes Multi Terrain Monitors. The low ratio gearbox (with a central differential lock) came into its own on the higher mountain roads that would have been inaccessible to anything less capable. Further evidence of its sure-footedness came from some of the steeper stretches we covered. The Land Cruiser found its way slowly but capably, not once putting a foot out of place.
If bigger is better for you, then give it a try. But, unless you’re going to spend most of your time in its favoured off-road terrain, you are likely to find the wallowy nature of the ride and the imprecise steering a bit too much, especially when compared to British and German SUV rivals.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Toyota Land Cruiser: road test

It’s a big vehicle so there’s loads of space – it stands to reason. Driver, front seat passenger and occupants of the second row will have nothing to moan about. The two electrically powered folding seats that make up the third row also just about pass muster for average-sized adults; taller folks would feel uncomfortable quickly.
Do without the use of the last two seats and you have a capacious boot of 1,151 litres. Visualise that by thinking of all the week’s shopping for a family, or four big suitcases, or several sacks of animal feed… without strain. However, the high position of the boot floor may cause some strain through the need to be lifting higher than you might be used to.
The tailgate is massive. It certainly looks impressive when you haul it open, but don’t get in its way when a strong gust of wind manages to close it (we did and it hurt). Also, don’t assume access to the back will be easy if you’re parking in tight spots (we did and it’s not).

SAFETY
Toyota Land Cruiser: road test

Low predicted sales volumes mean there’s no Euro NCAP crash test rating for the Land Cruiser. However, there’s simple science behind the notion that ‘the big guy wins’ – and something as big as this is going to offer a lot of protection to occupants in the event of a collision. This is backed up by seven airbags, stability control and active front head restraints. Our model included a Safety Pack (£1360), with adaptive cruise control and pre-crash safety system.

EQUIPMENT
Toyota Land Cruiser: road test

The entry-level Land Cruiser LC3 offers Bluetooth connectivity as well as alloy wheels and climate control. Adding further gadgets and toys soon pushes the price up. Our range-topping LC5 included satnav, discreet lighting to door sills, leather seats, driver’s knee airbag, DVD player and reversing camera, as well as parking sensors and rain sensing windscreen wipers. Loads of kit – but if you’re paying £50k-plus, it’s no more than you would expect.

COSTS

Toyota Land Cruiser: road test
Go for the basic LC3 three-door model and you’ll pay £32,765, which we think is reasonable-ish. The five-door version costs £37,015, and could well be the best choice if you’re interested in strength and off-road capability. If luxury is more the determining factor, then the LC4 comes in at £47,465 and the LC5 is £52,915. At this level, the LC5 makes more sense because it offers some extra off-road safety features that are not included in the less expensive models….
WE SAY A luxury, practical beast… great off-road but wallowy on the highway.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £55,410 as tested
Performance: 0-60mph in 11.0 seconds
Economy: 34.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 34E
Tax: Band K (£285 first year)

(Figures for the Land Cruiser Invincible Auto)