First drive: Toyota Land Cruiser 2012 in the UAE
It isn’t every day that a new Toyota Land Cruiser comes out. It still isn’t that day. The last time a new one debuted was in late 2007. Before that, it happened in around 1998, if what our grandpa says is true. Today, we took a look at the 2012 model, a facelifted version of the existing model, at an event in Dubai.
Changes for the 2012 Toyota Land Cruiser, at least externally, are limited to a new grille, redesigned front bumper, new bi-xenon HID headlights with LEDs, new tail-lamp clusters and, optionally, new 18-inch wheels as well as a “sporty” body kit. In the UAE at least, there are three official trim levels – EX-R, GX-R and VX-R – although, there is also an ultra-basic version that will quietly be marketed to fleets and safaris. There is also a redone engine line-up, with an upgraded 4.0-litre V6, an all-new 4.6-litre V8 and a carryover 5.7-litre V8.
There are also new fancy-pants offroad features, such as four cameras to look over cliffs, an electronic multi-terrain selection system, adjustable suspension, five-speed crawl control and a new turning assist function that can lock the inner rear tyre while taking tight turns so that the turn can be taken more tightly. But don’t worry about all that, because they’re all reserved for the top VX-R that no one can afford anyway.
What we drove was the new V6-powered model. The new 4.0-litre gains Dual VVT-i, whatever that is, and therefore makes 271 hp, an increase of 31 horses, with 385 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm. Mated to a 5-speed manually-shiftable automatic and all-wheel-drive with low-range gearing, this is probably the version that will see the most offroad action. It lacks the electronic gimmickry of the higher models, but also has the right front bumper and wheels for the job. That’s all it really needs, as we found out.
We drove out of the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club in convoy and didn’t really push the V6 engine to any real degree. It drives fine when you’re loafing around on the highway. The ride is still a bit truck-like, with the occasional bump and the obvious body roll, but is still largely comfortable and quiet at speeds under 100 kph.
It does well on the dunes too. Slip the triptronic shifter into manual, bump it down to first gear, and it stays there all day. There is even a button to turn off the side airbags, in case they go off on inclines. With the centre diff locked and the tyres deflated, there was nothing else to do but drive everywhere without bogging down in most cases. We didn’t chart any course that required a steep climb, but the Land Cruiser feels capable enough to find alternate routes if you couldn’t drive straight up the dune trying to chase some V8 truck. The ground clearance seems to be good, with good approach angles, at least in GX-R form.
So there isn’t anything new left to be said about the “new” Toyota Land Cruiser. It is still the spacious go-anywhere vehicle that it always was, even without the optional electronic aids. With prices solidly starting beyond Dhs 200,000 now though, it has truly moved into the premium segment.