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.
As with the US company Jeep, the Toyota Land Cruiser comes from a military background. The original Toyota BJ was created during the Korean War, and from 1954 it became known as the Land Cruiser. Over the decades it has grown in size and luxury, but it’s never lost its all-terrain abilities.
Our choice: Land Cruiser Active 5dr
Engines, performance and drive
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 excellent.
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.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
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 and residuals of 52 per cent are pretty good.
Interior, design and technology
Few cars can match the Land Cruiser for road presence. It’s marginally shorter than the Land Rover Discovery, but it’s taller, and while the Land Rover’s distinctive roof line step is a neat design touch, the Land Cruiser is pure SUV, thanks to its ‘two-box’ design and tall ride height.
Bulging wheelarches, chunky roof rails and running boards – essential kit for smaller occupants to get on board – only add to the SUV look, while the 2013 facelift added full LED lamps front and rear. These include super-bright daytime running lights, and when you combine them with the huge five-bar chrome grille the Toyota looks imposing – although you’d struggle to call it pretty. Inside, the Land Cruiser delivers the kind of old-school luxury you’d expect from a Lexus LS 600h. Top-spec Invincible models get plush leather, while wood trim on the wheel and dash is designed to give an upmarket touch, although this looks a bit dated.
Thankfully the beige leather is optional, and it’s best avoided if you plan on heading off-road as it’ll show dirt very easily.
The dash looks a bit messy - there are two air vents on top of the centre console, a bank of buttons and dials for the climate control below the standard sat-nav screen, and a big rotary selector, levers and buttons that operate the off-road modes.
In the back there’s another set of climate controls for the rear seats, while the Invincible gets a standard-fit Blu-Ray entertainment system with a drop-down screen in the roof.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
You can get the Land Cruiser with either five seats or seven seats – 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 their luggage too.
You need lots of space to swing open the side-hinged tailgate, although the separate-opening glass is handy in tight gaps. Rear suspension can be lowered to boost access, but there’s only a 5cm difference between its highest and lowest settings, meaning there is only a 2.5cm drop from normal.
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.
Reliability and Safety
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 an exemplary reliability record, and the Land Cruiser shouldn’t let you down in even the most extreme conditions. If it does, you can expect first-class treatment from your dealer, plus there’s five years’ warranty cover.
There are seven airbags, and off-road settings for the electronic stability control. Other electronics display the car’s body angle, steering direction and power distribution.
The Invincible has lane assist and a rear traffic monitor – handy when reversing such a large car. You can also upgrade to the Safety Pack, which adds adaptive cruise control and a pre-crash safety system for £1,360.