The hard-core Land Cruiser has a legendary reputation for toughness, reliability, durability and go-anywhere capabilities whether its jungle, desert, mountain, war zones, peace keeping and humanitarian aid, holiday tour operators taxi service, farming or even coping with the demanding requirements of the fashionable SUV image loved by sporting families.
SUV sales are booming and as we know cater for a third of all new cars sold in the UK and Europe. It’s their styling that is fashionable rather than any pretentions of being hard-core off-roaders. But the Land Cruiser is different, it remains one of those diminishing number of tough and uncompromising large 4x4s.
The current generation model was introduced in 2009 and has been regularly updated since then and now the 2018 model range for the UK market has arrived. The range gains a new entry level Utility grade in three and five door body styles in addition to Active, Icon and the high technology Invincible grade. The Utility versions have five seats, the Active five or seven seat options whilst Icon and Invincible are seven seater models. Prices range from £33,435 up to £52,855.
Whilst the specification differs considerably between grades, core to all models is the engine and drivetrain. They all use a 2.8-litre D-4D turbodiesel DOHC 16-valve unit which develops
174bhp at 3,400rpm with 450Nm of torque available from 1,600 to 2,400rpm with the six speed automatic gearbox. In this configuration it will accelerate from zero to 62mph in 12.7 seconds, and on to a maximum 108mph. Official combined cycle fuel consumption is 38.1mpg with 194g/km CO2 emissions. The engine is also available in the Utility version with a six-speed manual gearbox where the maximum torque of 420Nm is available from 1,400 to 2,600rpm. Acceleration to 62mph takes 12.0-seconds, while the benchmark figures for fuel economy and CO2 emissions are unchanged for the five-door and marginally lower for the three-door at 39.2mpg and 190g/km.
Catering for a wider range of potential customers the expanded 2018 Land Cruiser range, the new Utility grade three and five door models have 17-inch steel wheels, roof rails, front fog lights, air conditioning, dusk-sensing headlights, cruise control, smart entry and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, Bluetooth, Aux-in and USB Port. A six-speed manual transmission can be specified for the five-door version and is standard on the three-door model.
The Active grade is a five door model available with a five or seven-seat interior and has 17-inch alloy wheels and adds rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, leather steering wheel trim and the Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen and nine-speaker audio system.
The five door, seven-seat Icon version adds a number of new features including Toyota Safety Sense active safety systems, 19-inch alloys, leather upholstery and front seats
with heating and ventilation functions. As previously it comes equipped with LED headlights and front fog lights, an entry lighting system, rear privacy glass, rain-sensing wipers and the Toyota Touch 2 with Go package with navigation and enhanced connectivity options.
The top of the range Invincible five door, seven seat, version is equipped with advanced technology features as standard to improve handling and stability both on-road and off. These include a locking Torsen rear differential, Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, Multi-Terrain Select, Multi-terrain Monitor, Crawl control and a 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor with an under vehicle terrain view. The safety specification is boosted by the addition of a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
All versions are covered by Toyota’s five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
With the first official Land Cruiser, known as Colorado, sales began in the UK in 1975 and 81,526 have been sold since then. In 2003 the model became Land Cruiser and has sold 25,157 units since launch but despite the SUV market growing the vehicle is a minority player with just 566 sales in 2017.
Whilst the majority of SUVs these days are of monocoque construction, the Land Cruiser for toughness and durability retains is body on a ladder frame chassis design. The downside to that of course is its 2,125kg kerb weight and it doesn’t have the same on-road handling agility and nimbleness of its similar sized Audi Q7, Range Rover, Land Rover Discovery or BMW X5 competitors. But with improved sound insulation and the rear electric suspension and adaptive variable suspension specification fitted to the £52,855 Invincible version I tried ride comfort was first class. Even with its large 19-inch wheels it was the most accomplished vehicle I’ve driven for a long time in terms of absorbing impacts from even the deepest of potholes. The downside was that the adjustable suspension in Comfort mode dulled the handling qualities on winding country roads but it’s not a vehicle for speed so I was happy to enjoy the comfort, the view over the hedge rows and with Eco driving mode selected the vehicle returned an impressive 30.4mpg overall for a extended period of test driving. On higher speed motorways it was easy to maintain an effortless 70mph cruising speed with little engine or road noise entering the very roomy cabin. Matched with the six-speed automatic gearbox with manual mode and with permanent four wheel drive, it was an accomplished performer and despite its size and bulk, easy to live with. The only downside was the side hinged rear door which needs lots of parking space to be fully opened. The overall length without the rear door open is 4,840mm with a width of 1,885mm and it high at 1,835mm
The drivetrain has lots of settings, most push-button types to select the high and low ratios and the other various settings that turn the Land Cruiser into a serious off-road vehicle when needed. Perhaps not as intuitive as say the Range/Land Rover dial operated system but once it became familiar it worked easily enough, let’s just hope all these electronics remain durable and reliable in years to come in less sophisticated operating environments. Using the electronic height adjustable suspension system raises the 215mm ground clearance enough to provide a 700mm wading depth for those adventurous off-roaders.
Inside this top spec model the fit and finish and quality of upholstery and the layout of controls was good, not as posh as a Range Rover but not as expensive either. Storage spaces are numerous and there is lots of room throughout and the seating felt comfortable and supporting. The middle row of seats is divided 40-20-40 and these can be individually folded flat as can the rear two seats. With all the middle and rear rows of seat backs folded down there is a huge load carrying area providing up to 1,934-litres of space or with the seats raised its still 621-litres. For those that need a heavyweight towing vehicle the braked towing capacity is 3,000kg.
Overall in the UK the latest Toyota Land Cruiser is not going to be the large SUV to meet the needs of most customers, it’s too capable unless you need a hard-core, go anywhere 4×4 for serious off-road work and are willing to pay the high tax costs.
MILESTONES: 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser Invincible 2.8-litre, 4WD, 7-Seat SUV. Price: £52,855. Engine/transmission: 2.8-litre, 4-cylinder D-4D turbodiesel, 174bhp, 450Nm of torque from 1,600rpm, 6-speed automatic, 4WD with high/low ratio and locking rear differential. Performance: 108mph, 0-62mph 12.7-seconds, Combined Cycle 38.1mpg (30.4mpg on test), CO2 194g/km, VED road tax Diesel First Year rate £1,760, Standard rate £140 + £310 supplement for 5-years as the vehicle costs over £40k, BiK company car tax 37%. Insurance group: 41A. Warranty: 3-years/100,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,840mm, W 1,885mm, H 1,835mm, load area 621 to 1,934-litres, braked towing capacity 3,000kg. For: Proven durability and longevity in the harshest of motoring environments, hugely capable off-road, high specification, advanced road safety driving support technologies, imposing exterior styling, very roomy interior, very comfortable ride. Against: High running and tax costs, sluggish engine for acceleration, off-road performance capabilities restrict its on-road handling performance. Miles Better News Agency