Toyota Land Cruiser review
The Toyota Land Cruiser is the ideal car for when the going gets tough, and is cheaper than its rivals, too
The Toyota Land Cruiser is a very capable and reliable 4x4. If you’re one of the few who genuinely need off-road ability, then it is still a great choice, and this update makes it marginally better than before. However, for everyone else the changes don’t go anywhere near far enough. Compared to modern 4x4s like the Land Rover Discovery, the trusty Toyota Land Cruiser is simply too agricultural.
Our choice: Land Cruiser Active 5dr
The Land Cruiser is a big car with a high-riding stance and chunky looks. Toyota has given it a mild up date to help make it feel slightly more up market and more of a match for modern SUVs.
The most noticeable update is a more outlandish grille design flanked by new upswept headlamps. Unfortunately, these give the boxy 4x4 the surprised look of an ageing Hollywood starlet. The lights are placed higher than before to protect them while off-roading, while the front bumper is raised, too, in a bid to improve the Toyota’s approach angle. Inside the Land Cruiser gets Toyota’s easy-to-use Touch 2 Multimedia system, some new bits of interior trim, a revised driver display and a dial for the off-road settings. But even the mid-spec Icon model which has full leather, still feels nowhere near as luxurious as a Land Rover Discovery. On the plus side, the car does feel very well screwed together.
There's just one engine in the Land Cruiser line-up – a 3.0-litre diesel with 187bhp. The smooth unit does a good job of lugging around the huge weight but it never feels particularly brisk.
It's also feel quite rough compared to the smoother six cylinder diesels you get in off roaders from Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW. Its not particularly brisk either - acceleration from 0-62mph takes 11 seconds.
Through corners the Land Cruiser feels like a tall, heavy car. There's a fair amount of lean and the steering could do with being a bit sharper. Comfort is generally good, but the car does fidget around on rough surfaces and doesn’t glide up the road in the same way a Land Rover Discovery does. It's worth mentioning though, that off-road the Toyota is a match for the Land Rover.
It has a low ratio gearbox and lockable centre differential for improved traction. Plus Toyota’s legendary reliability means that you can depend on the Land Cruiser to not only take you into the wilderness but also get you back out of it.
Euro NCAP hasn't yet crash tested the Land Cruiser but it's worth assuming it would perform incredibly well because of its seven standard-fit airbags and stiff body. Toyota has built itself a reputation for reliability and is renowned for having a great dealer network should anything go wrong. Plus there is the firm’s excellent five year warranty should anything go wrong.
You can get the Land Cruiser with either five seats or seven seat – in the case of the higher specification models the rear most road can be operated electrically. There is plenty of room in the second row thanks to large footwell, impressive leg room and a high roof. You can slide the second row forward to free up space for those in the rear. In fact there is sufficient room in the back two seats for adults – though only for shorter journeys. Trouble is, with the rear seats in place the capacity of the impressive 620-litre boot is almost reduced to that of a Fiat 500, which means that while you can carry seven people you can’t carry there luggage too.
Practicality is further hampered by the side hinged rear door which swing outwards and makes loading in tight car parking spaces awkward. Aside from missing leather seats, the base model still comes with plenty of kit, including cruise control, keyless go, air-con and Bluetooth. Go for the range-topper and you'll get heated seats, TV screens in the rear and parking sensors.
Big cars come with big running costs and the Land Cruiser is no exception. The diesel engine manages 34.9mpg combined while CO2 emissions are 214g/km. That means hefty road tax bills. On the plus side however, Toyota does offer a fixed-price servicing plan.