What is the Toyota Land Cruiser?
The Land Cruiser is Toyota’s staple SUV, in production for more than 60 years. Today’s car remains defiantly old school, with a body-on-frame chassis and a live rear axle, even though it was renewed from stem to stern in 2009. There’s nothing old school about the price, though: even the meanly equipped entry-grade LC3 version costs £32,745. If you want leather seats and kit such as sat nav, you’ll need to spend £47,445 on the LC4. A yet more expensive LC5 model dripping with drop-down DVDs and all sorts of clever off-road equipment is available for those happy to drop £52,895 into a four-cylinder Toyota.
This Land Cruiser is not to be mistaken for the full-sized and quite magnificent Land Cruiser V8, which is an entirely different car at an entirely different price, known in former generations as the Amazon.
It’s almost as if Toyota is making no attempt to match the dynamic virtuosity of rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery. This is a car with bigger fish to fry, aimed at countries where dependability is everything, and handling and performance entirely unimportant. That is why a 3-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine is the only available powerplant; while it’s gruff and coarse, it feels as though it would drive to the moon and back without missing a beat. At least the five-speed automatic gearbox, standard in LC4 and LC5 cars, is smooth.
If anything, the chassis sets even lower standards. Ride quality is poor, the steering vague and handling absent by any standard an enthusiastic driver might recognise. Will that bother those who drive these cars in sub-Saharan Africa or the Australian outback? It will not, because they know the Land Cruiser is not only almost unstoppable off road but pretty much unbreakable too. Those qualities might count for little over here, but over there they explain why the Land Cruiser has largely come to replace the Land Rover.
In a car costing this much, the cabin should really be better than it is. Many materials would seem out of place in a car costing half as much, and the dash is a mess, with certain switches apparently slotted in wherever there’s space.
It is, however, a roomy car, even for those travelling in the third-row seats, which are conveniently raised and lowered electrically at the touch of a button.
What to look out for
There hasn’t been an official recall of the Toyota Land Cruiser since 2006 and then it was only if you were going to drive it at a rock, which could potentially break the steering. By any measure, that’s an impressive record. In far-flung places the Land Cruiser is the only vehicle people trust with their lives and for good reason: whether delivering aid in war zones, or delivering Rupert on the school run, it’ll always get you home.
The one to buy
Toyota Land Cruiser 3.0 D-4D LC4
- £47,445 (correct at first publication)
- 2982cc, 4 cylinders
- 188bhp @ 3400rpm
- 309 lb ft @ 3000rpm
- 5-speed automatic
- 0-62mph in 11.7sec
- Top speed:
- 34.9mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- L 4760mm, W 1885mm, H 1890mm