– Excellent build quality
– Huge interior
– Great offroader
– Tough to park
– Poor fuel economy
– Getting too common
The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the most refined and comfortable premium sport utility vehicles available in the Middle East, with true go-anywhere, do-anything capability that traces its heritage back a half a century. The Land Cruiser was significantly redesigned in 1998 and has hardly been changed for the past seven years. Resale value is strong, as evidenced by high used prices.
The top-model Land Cruiser comes equipped with all the amenities expected in a premium 4×4, comforting its occupants with such luxuries as power-adjustable and heated front seats and independent rear automatic climate control systems. The Land Cruiser comes standard with the safety benefits of an anti-lock brake system (ABS) and airbags.
The lengthy list of available equipment also includes a leather-trimmed interior with seating for eight, up to ten seats in some models, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rear seat audio and steering wheel audio controls. A full-size spare is standard.
The Toyota Land Cruiser provides a high level of safety that family buyers demand. Airbag sensors accompany dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags and available front and second-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensor and cutoff switch.
The Land Cruiser is powered by a choice of either a 250 hp 4.7-litre V8 or a 240 hp 4.5-litre inline-6 engine. With more than 400 Nm of torque available at low rpm, both Land Cruiser models make an excellent tow vehicle. There is also a weak 135 hp 4.2-litre 6-cylinder diesel engine.
The Land Cruiser is built on a tough chassis with nine crossmembers set into box-section side rails. The resulting chassis stiffness translates into a smooth ride and the ability to handle rough driving conditions. The double wishbone independent front suspension and four-link rear axle with coil springs balance smooth on-road driving with the ruggedness needed for off-road driving. A variable rack-and-pinion steering system helps make Land Cruiser easy to maneuver in tight places. Tooth spacing on the gears of the rack becomes wider toward the end of the rack, reducing steering effort at high steering angles.
The Land Cruiser is equipped with full-time four-wheel drive plus an array of dynamic handling systems. The full-time four-wheel drive system divides the power evenly between front and rear wheels and works in conjunction with traction control (TRAC) to handle rough going, on- or off-road. Pushing a button on the console will lock the centre differential, allowing the Land Cruiser to traverse especially rough or slippery terrain. The driver can shift into low range to negotiate steep off-road inclines.
With solid ground clearance and generous approach, departure and ramp break-over angles, the Land Cruiser can tackle tough trails with confidence. Steel skid plates protect the front suspension, transfer case, and fuel tank.
The four-wheel ABS operates even in low-range four-wheel drive. As road surface roughness increases, ABS intervention decreases. The system responds to steep slopes, as well, preventing early activation to allow the driver more control.
Later models have an Electronic Brake-force Distribution feature that optimises brake pressure at each wheel for greater control under braking, especially when cornering. The Brake Assist safety system is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking. If the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to engage the ABS, the system supplements the applied braking power until pedal pressure is released.
The Vehicle Stability Control system in newer models help maintain directional stability during cornering by manipulating engine torque and individual wheel-braking influence when it detects tire slippage. The system’s traction control feature helps reduce tire slippage during acceleration.
The roomy Land Cruiser seats up to eight passengers in top trim, with nine or even ten tight seating positions available in some models. A reclining 60/40 split second-row seat and a foldaway/removable 50/50 split third-row seat ensure versatility for just about any need. With the third seat removed and the second seat row folded, the Land Cruiser provides a lot of cargo room. The third-row passengers benefit from rear power quarter windows, and dark green privacy glass helps protect against the sun’s rays.
For all its rugged capability, the Land Cruiser is an extremely civilised highway vehicle. Asphalt sheeting used throughout the cabin structure helps to ensure low noise levels, making it all the more pleasurable to listen to the optional premium sound system. The 3-in-1 AM/FM/ETR/cassette/CD audio system includes an in-dash six-disc CD changer. Its maximum output of 300 watts plays through seven speakers.
In addition to the major comfort features, the top GXR and VXR Land Cruiser models provide a host of standard conveniences, including steering wheel audio controls, one-touch up/down power windows with jam protection, power door locks, a multi-information display, heated exterior mirrors, automatic on/off headlamps with daytime running lights, cruise control, multiple 12-volt power outlets, and a security system with engine immobilizer. Like the windows, the power tilt/slide sunroof has a one-touch open/close control with jam protection.
However, the Land Cruiser is not perfect. It is huge on the outside, and difficult to park in tight shopping mall spaces. Also, fuel economy is a concern in these days of rising petrol prices. Add to all this the fact that there is one on every street, and it also loses its exclusivity, no matter how expensive it is. And competition like GMC and Nissan have more powerful models for a lower price. The Land Cruiser has somewhat slow acceleration, even though the initial jump in speed due to its immense torque makes people think it is “fast.”
The Toyota Land Cruiser is the top selling four-wheel-drive in the Middle East, topping the competition with a combination of reliability and capability. It is the premier choice for both serious offroaders as well as status-conscious commuters.