Think of the ultimate off-roader, and the Land Rover Defender springs immediately to mind. However, 4x4 aficionados can name a rival that’s been going nearly as long as the Defender, and is possibly even more capable in the rough: Toyota’s Land Cruiser. The Japanese 4x4’s been around for 60 years, and while early cars mirrored the Defender’s workhorse nature, the Land Cruiser has grown in size and moved away from its utilitarian roots.
The latest model is packed with luxury kit and a raft of off-road extras, and with prices starting from £34,995, it now rivals the largest Land Rover – the Discovery. We’re big fans of the Disco thanks to its family-friendly luxury cabin and superb off-road ability, while constant development has kept it at the front of the 4x4 pack. Here we pitch the flagship Land Cruiser Invincible against the Discovery HSE to see if the new Toyota can claw its way to the top.
These cars use a raft of electronic aids to boost their off-road ability. Both get switchable air-suspension, hill descent control, low-range gears plus rear and centre diff locks, while the Land Cruiser has surround cameras as standard.
In use, the Discovery’s Terrain Response system is easier to navigate – simply press a button to suit the terrain you’re on. The Toyota’s buttons, switches and large dial are a bit messy.
The Toyota has an electrically folding third row of seats, which is easy to use. Its rival’s seats require more effort, but the levers feel robust and are more spacious. Tall adults can sit comfortably in the back, and access is easier with the middle row folded forward, too.
Both cars’ stability control systems are designed to work with trailers. The Land Cruiser has a maximum towing capacity of 3,000kg, while it’s 3,500kg for the Discovery. A tow bar costs up to £650 on the Toyota and £510 on the Land Rover.
Constant development means the Discovery still leads the premium SUV pack. It’s spacious, comfortable, smooth and refined on-road, and its off-road ability has to be experienced to be believed. It’s well worth the extra outlay over the Land Cruiser.
The Land Cruiser is a supremely capable performer in the rough, and very well equipped, but it feels like it’s from a different era to the Discovery. The cabin seems dated, while the soft, bouncy suspension and underpowered diesel spoil the on-road performance.
|Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 HSE||Toyota Land Cruiser 3.0 D-4D Invincible|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£53,750/£54,750||£52,495/£54,555|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£31,336/58.3%||£27,140/51.7%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£3715/£7,431||£3,627/£7,255|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£2,544/£4,240||£3,339/£7,255|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||39/£595/K/£280||38/£716/K/£280|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£397/£567/£408||£179/£269/£179|
|Peak power||253/4,000 bhp/rpm||185/3,400 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||600/2,000 Nm/rpm||420/3,000 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||8-spd auto/4WD||5-spd auto/4WD|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||82 litres/£185||87 litres/yes|
|Boot capacity (7/5/2 seat modes)||280/543/2,476 litres||104/553/1,833 litres|
|Approach angle/departure angle||32/27 degrees||32/25 degrees|
|Breakover angle/wading depth||23 degrees/700mm||22 degrees/700mm|
|Turning circle/min ground clearance||11.5 metres/185mm||11.6 metres/215mm|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unltd)/1yr||5yrs (100,000)/1yr|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||16k miles (1yr)/130||10k miles (1yr)/181|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||25th/15th||9th/3rd|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||4/4/1 (pre-2009)||N/A|
|0-60/30-70mph||8.4/8.5 secs||10.9/11.9 secs|
|30-50mph/50-70mph in kickdown||3.3/5.3 secs||4.5/7.6 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||112mph/1,700rpm||109mph/2,100rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||67/46/57/65dB||65/49/57/69dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||29.4/6.5/530 miles||22.4/4.9/429 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||257/213g/km/35%||338/213g/km/35%|
|Auto/stability/cruise/hill descent ctrl||Yes/yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes/yes|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes|
|Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go||Yes/yes/yes||£700/LEDs/yes|