Toyota Land Cruiser (2003-2009) review
Toyota's most important model world-wide after the Corolla, the Land Cruiser has built up a tremendous reputation for reliability and strength in its 50 year history.
Toyota's most important model world-wide after the Corolla, the Land Cruiser has built up a tremendous reputation for reliability and strength in its 50 year history. That left Toyota with something of a problem when introducing this model. The car needed to continue to appeal to buyers who depend on its rugged ability, without alienating drivers in other markets who are becoming more used to road-biased 'SUVs'. Retaining the ladder-frame and separate body construction underlines Toyota's need for durability and strength, but they've also put a lot of emphasis on the styling and interior. Designed for the first time in Europe, it's hoped that the rather smart styling inside and out will attract customers with whom the off-road ability of the Land Cruiser is second consideration after style and space.
Available in three and five-door versions, with four different trim levels, all offer a generous specification. ABS with Brake Assist and EBD, eight airbags, a CD player and air conditioning feature across the entire range, the five-door model coming with eight seats. There are two engine choices; a 3.0-litre D-4D turbodiesel and a 4.0-litre V6. Two transmission choices are available, the manual being rather reluctant, though still preferable over the auto in the diesel as it allows you to avoid the rather noisy upper rev range. The ride is good, though body control is poor when you start to push on, with roll, pitch and dive - more so on the five-door version than the three-door. It's difficult to criticise the Land Cruiser for its on road performance though, as it was never going to be able to compete with the likes of the BMW X5 - and off-road none of these road-biased rivals will be able to touch it. That's important given that world-wide around 30% of an average Land Cruiser's life will be spent off the tarmac. Space inside, in either model, is ample, while the interior feels well built, with even a few Lexus influences making themselves apparent in the smart instrumentation. A tough model for Toyota as it has to be so many different things for so many different people the overall effect is rather good. It's stylish inside and out, spacious, utterly dependable and has the go-anywhere ability that road-biased rivals cannot hope to match, just don't expect to keep up with them on the tarmac though.