Toyota Land Cruiser Review
The Toyota Land Cruiser builds on almost 70 years-worth of off-road experience but feels more agricultural than modern SUVs
Strengths & weaknesses
In the 70 years that the Toyota Land Cruiser and its predecessors have existed, they have made it to the base camp of Mount Everest, been driven across all seven continents, and remained a firm favourite of the United Nations.
It makes the Nissan Qashqai look as tough as a fluffy kitten. But the Land Cruiser's position as one of the most rugged and reliable off-roaders that you can buy does come at a cost: it's not as smooth, comfortable or quiet as most of its modern-day rivals.
At a price of around £34,000 before discounts - which rises to £40,000 for a seven-seat car and £52,000 for a top-of-the-range model - there are plenty of alternative tall and rugged sport utility vehiles (SUVs). These include the cheaper Skoda Kodiaq; the similarly priced Hyundai Santa Fe; and the pricier Volkswagen Touareg or Land Rover Discovery.
And although you'd want the Land Cruiser (or the Land Rover Discovery) when trying to cross a fast-flowing jungle river, any SUV with four-wheel drive will cope with unmade tracks and muddy fields, which are the toughest tests that most owners will face.
Once on tarmac, the Land Cruiser is left behind by the competition. Despite some improvements made to 2018 cars, it feels more agricultural than most other large SUVs, bouncing over potholes and leaning in corners instead of remaining flat and steady.
The diesel engine doesn't help matters, as it's noisy under heavy acceleration. That said, its pulling power is ideal for towing and it can pull a maximum 3,000kg, which is more than adequate for many caravan and boat owners. Trailer Sway Control helps to keep your load in line.
A trailer might be essential if you're planning to fill the car with passengers, though. The optional seven-seat layout leaves minimal boot space when all seats are in place, but adults will be fairly comfortable in all rows.
With the rear row folded into the floor, the 620 litre boot is larger than a family estate car. The side-hinged boot door makes access a bit of a pain in public car parks, as it requires a huge amount of room to open fully, but the window does open, so you can drop smaller items in, as long as they aren't too fragile.
The Land Cruiser's interior was improved as part of a 2018 update, which also tweaked its exterior styling, but the dashboard still looks like it has been built from parts bought at Halfords, complete with an overly-complicated touchscreen. You'll need to look elsewhere for any sort of wow factor or style - such as the Volvo XC90 with its minimalist, leather-clad interior, or the optional high-tech dashboard of the Audi Q7.
The Land Cruiser is a functional space, designed logically, with hard-wearing, but shiny plastics. Chunky buttons and dials are clear and easy to use while driving, enabling you to quickly activate the off-road technology found on top-of-the-range Invincible cars. This includes an under-vehicle camera, multi terrain select for optimum performance on different surfaces; crawl control for slow and steady progress on rugged ground; and different suspension modes for extra comfort or stability.
If you do need a car that will sweep you across boggy, rutted and undulating ground, then you'll probably be willing to forego a glossy touchscreen and soft-touch plastics for the sheer toughness of the Toyota.
It can climb, from level ground, straight onto a 31-degree climb without even brushing on the ground, while it will wade through water 700mm deep. Only the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport can really compete in terms of size, price and hardiness; the Land Rover Discovery requires rather more cash.
Viewed as an off-road vehicle that also features some upmarket mod cons and plenty of roominess, it's a formidable machine.
- December 2009 Current-generation Land Cruiser arrives in Britain with a 3-litre diesel engine, auto gearbox and trim levels LC3 (entry-level), LC4 and LC5.
- January 2014 An update to the Land Cruiser introduces a higher-resolution dashboard screen as standard, supporting drag and swipe gestures, small exterior changes and extra safety equipment including blind spot alert. Trim levels are renamed Active (entry-level), Icon and Invincible
- August 2015 The 3-litre diesel engine is replaced with a more efficient 2.8-litre engine, which has a similar amount of pulling power.
- January 2017 Top-of-the-range Invincible X trim level is introduced, with full leather seats, black alloy wheels and extra exterior chrome.
- January 2018 The Land Cruiser is updated again with more exterior design tweaks, a larger touchscreen (8in instead of 7in) and a cheaper entry-level Utility trim. Some comfort and stability improvements also made.