Toyota Land Cruiser vs Land Rover Defender
The new Toyota Land Cruiser is cleaner than ever, but we get it dirty in a bruising test against legendary Land Rover off-roader
Now that winter is upon us, what better time to test two of the best 4x4s in the business?
The Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover Defender are steeped in history and have traded on their unstoppable off-road ability for decades. However, these cars have taken very different paths to where they are today. The Land Cruiser has moved from functional 4x4 to luxury off-roader over the years, and the most recent update means its 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel is cleaner than ever.
In contrast, the Defender has stuck to its utilitarian roots, but time is catching up with it and the end of production is looming. To see the 4x4 off in style, Land Rover has launched the Celebration Series - three models designed to showcase its versatility. The Autobiography is the upmarket version, the Heritage nods to the car's history, while the Adventure tested here highlights its off-road prowess.
So which of these cars delivers a superior driving experience on and off-road? We headed for the hills to find out.
Head to head
Land Cruiser has a host of electronics to keep moving off-road, but while it's very capable, it does feel huge and has limited ground clearance compared to the Land Rover.
The narrower body and steeper approach and departure angles make the Defender truly unstoppable, yet the shorter wheelbase 90 is better still.
Neither car is easy to get into, but the Land Cruiser has grab handles and running boards to boost access. You get to the rearmost seats in the Toyota by clambering past the second row.
In the Defender, you need to get in via the back door, although there is a step to help you.
While the Defender is cheaper than the Land Cruiser to buy, it costs more to run. Road tax is a hefty £505 a year (Toyota buyers face a £265 bill) while 23mpg economy on test was nearly 12mpg behind its rival. At least the Defender's insurance prices are lower.
First place: Land Rover Defender
In every measurable way, the Defender 110 is outperformed by the Land Cruiser, yet what it lacks in performance, economy and running costs it more than makes up for with character. This Adventure model makes you feel like a survivalist even on a trip to the shops, and while its a physical car to drive, it's also immensely satisfying. Plus, it's likely to be an appreciating asset.
Second place: Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser is one of the few luxury SUVs that can still perform well off the beaten track. Its size means it's spacious for seven, and the level of standard kit is good enough to rival the best from Range Rover. But the cabin design looks and feels dated, while the on-road driving experience is soft and wallowy. Its diesel engine is more efficient than the Defender's, but it's still a slow car.
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Price: £25,000 (est)
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 180bhp
Not so much coming soon than coming eventually is the Defender's replacement. Land Rover has revealed a number of interesting design studies, but the car will need to be very special to match the outgoing model's legendary status.
|Land Rover Defender 110 Adventure
|Toyota Land Cruiser D-4D Invincible auto
|On the road price/total as tested
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel
|75 litres/full size
|87 litres/full size
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)
|Turning circle/drag coefficient
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery
|Service intervals/UK dealers
|12,000 miles (1yr)/130
|10,000 miles (1yr)/181
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th
|4.9 secs (kickdown)
|50-70mph in 5th/6th
|8.8 secs (kickdown)
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph
|Approach angle/departure angle
|Breakover angle/wading depth
|Minimum ground clearance
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket
|Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control
|Climate control/leather/heated seats
|Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go