First drive: 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser in the UAE

First drive: 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser in the UAE

What you are about to read are our first impressions of the 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser, based on a quick lunch-break visit to the showroom as well as a very short spin of a private car on city streets. We weren’t invited to the media launch event held in the UAE, which was seemingly attended only by “agreeable” scribes and influencers, but taking a closer look at one of the most hyped new cars to be launched in the Middle East in 2021 (after the latest Nissan Patrol Nismo earlier this year) gives us some insight on why Toyota is trying to control the messaging so tightly.

First off is the styling. When the first images of the new design leaked onto the internet, there was widespread derision of the 2022 model’s new grille-heavy face. Indeed, the “tear duct” black grille elements under the headlights are ripe for criticism, but seeing it in person on the top-spec models, we got used to it pretty quickly and don’t mind the overall design at all.

Speaking of trim levels, only the top-spec models were on display at the showroom, and you have to buy them with all the optional extras such as tint, insurance and paint protection packages. These VX-R and GX-R versions (identified by chrome or black exterior trim, respectively) all have the lower front bumper which offers a poorer approach angle than a Nissan Patrol, so if you want to do some serious offroading, go for the lower-spec EX-R models or the GR Sport trim, both of which appear to have more offroad-friendly bumpers.

You’d be hard-pressed to tell the external difference between a 4.0-litre V6 VX-R and a 3.5-litre turbo V6 VX-R as they are identical, right down to the 20-inch wheels. The only differentiator is that the turbo model’s tear-duct grille intakes are actually functional, while they’re blocked off on the non-turbo V6. The turbo VX-R also has a tow hook cover in the back, while the non-turbo VX-R gets an exposed hook. That, and there is a twin-turbo badge on the tailgate, which will probably become a popular mod among 4.0-litre owners.

Boasting the exact same 2,850 mm wheelbase since the 1990 model, we’re hard-pressed to believe the claim that the 2022 has an “all-new” body-on-frame platform without speaking to a Toyota engineer. At the very least, this new “TNGA” is a heavily revised version, as the 2022 model has lost 200 kg in weight and apparently the engine/transmission setup are mounted lower and further to the back to achieve better weight distribution. The overall length is similar to the previous LC200 model, after growing significantly over three decades. Cabin space remains about similar to a mid-size crossover SUV, which is no surprise considering it’s shorter in length than a Ford Explorer.

Stepping inside, the design isn’t going to drop jaws, but it does look modern with the wide flat-screen multimedia screen and the crisp upholstery (genuine leather on the VX-R). All the tech features expected from a modern car are present in the pricey VX-R, such as a heads-up display, drive mode selector, smartphone connectivity, four-zone auto a/c, vented front seats, adaptive cruise, 360-degree camera, active safety, etc. The inside door handles don’t feel like cheap plastic any more. We even appreciated the soft-padded glovebox cover on the passenger-side footwell as well as the centre-console sides.

The Lexus-like premium feel ends with the armrests and seats however, as the upper dash and door panels are trimmed with what feels like rubberised black soft-touch materials with fake stitches moulded in. That’s a very cheap way of imitating the Nissan Patrol’s real stitched-leatherette door panels, although we suspect Toyota took this path for durability reasons in long-term usage. And although the trim around the shifter feels plastic to the touch, the brochure says the VX-R has walnut wood trim.

There are several mis-steps on the button-heavy centre console though. For one, there is a big black void behind the shifter that looks like it’s a cover for a storage area, but it doesn’t do anything — it’s just a black plastic panel with a JBL logo in the corner. This means the flat wireless charger is taking up space next to the shifter. We suspect this is only an issue on the top-spec, and base-spec models do get a storage cubby there.

The shifter console itself is mounted high, like in a sports car, thereby reducing the spacious feeling that drivers of big SUVs prefer. There are no extra storage spaces underneath that raised console that we could find. Even the cooler box under the central double-hinged armrest is tiny. In fact, aside from the usual pockets and such, there is a distinct lack of useful storage spaces for a “large” SUV. At least the glove box is massive.

And then there is the biggest complaint from existing Land Cruiser owners — the tighter third-row seating and the discontinuation of the Range Rover-style split-opening tailgate. It seems the new third row has a shorter seat bottom, clearly a side-effect of trying to stuff a fold-flat bench in an SUV that still uses live-axle rear suspension (all its rivals have moved to independent rear suspension). The older model had an awkward split third row that folded up on the sides of the boot, but had more useable space as a result. We don’t know why the split tailgate was removed in favour of a traditional one-piece tailgate, although there is still a faux cut-line to make it look like it’s still there.

Based on our quick spin with a mid-spec 409 hp 3.5-litre turbo, the power delivery seems fairly linear. It offers far better kick than the unremarkable old V8 motors, and feels a bit quicker than the V8-powered Patrol LE. The 10-speed undoubtedly helps as well. Buyers of models fitted with the old 271 hp 4.0-litre V6 6-speed models will see minimal performance benefits, largely due to reduced weight.

Handling remains average, with occasional lumpiness that encourages slow cornering. With the adaptive suspension option reserved for the VX-R only, the ride on all other models is reasonably comfortable, although rear passengers will probably feel that live axle more than the driver.

We didn’t go offroad, but everything you’d need is there, including low-range gearing, high-descent control, crawl control and, surprisingly, three locking diffs on the VX-R (and probably the GR Sport when it’s available). The VX-R offers just enough ground clearance to ride the dunes, but if you try anything resembling a jump, you’ll surely break bumpers.

On a kilo-for-kilo basis, it is hard to justify buying the Land Cruiser over the facelifted Patrol as a daily driver. The Nissan is far larger, more spacious, a fair bit cheaper, has independent suspension, and still retains that sweet direct-injection V8. The Toyota has the edge in terms of a modern-feeling cockpit, is slightly easier to park due to its smaller size, a bit quicker (and probably more fuel-efficient), and — based on previous experience — probably a bit more durable offroad if you get a barebones model with higher bumpers. If we were more serious about offroading with a big expensive SUV, we’d probably buy the GR Sport and get the front bumper painted.

See prices and specs in the Toyota Land Cruiser buyer guide.

Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. I love your work.

    If you ever get to do a more extensive review or have contacts with Toyota mechanics, I’d love to know how the deeper and lower positioning of the engine will impact sand dunes and mud. Are they more prone to getting mud jammed in sensitive areas as opposed to the previous generation? Also, where are the 3.5’s intercooler fans placed? The Raptor’s Ecoboost has fans placed right above the bash plate, and so are prone to eating sand and mud scooped up by the plate. I wonder if Toyota thought about this while fitting their new 3.5 TT engine in this car.

  2. I was in the market for a new car 6-weeks ago. The worst showroom experience was Toyota, very un-sellish attitude by sales people, very like take it or leave it! Based on what!?. I got a brand new Lincoln afterwards.
    The LC300 is a big improvement over the LC200, much better road presence and drive; although not sure why they didn’t opt for independent suspension all round.
    The rumor is Nissan is swaping their 4.0lt V6 on the Patrol to the new 3.8lt used on the 2021 US frontier pickup. It would be fun for them to turbo charge that, give Toyota a nice surprise!

  3. I’ve been on hold for a few weeks but now the Patrol LE V8 makes so much more sense. I also found the driver’s seat fairly tight on the cruiser, which was a real surprise to me.

    I also agree with the previous person about the arrogant and unwelcome showroom experience in Toyota AD.

  4. 3.5 Turbo base prices :

    UAE – 284,000 AED (excl. VAT)
    KSA – 228,000 SAR (excl. VAT)

    AFM has some explaining to do.

    • No explanation is needed when you can read the specs on the car, Saudi market is known to get much lower trim levels for many car.

      • You’re absolutely right. My point was the UAE dealer needs to explain why they can’t offer the barebones KSA spec model for AED 60 K less – is it because they are concerned it will steal sales from the higher margin trims? Possibly.

    • Check the price of the Nissan Armada in the USA!? Around $72k for fully loaded (w/AWD) some 20% higher than the Patrol in ME.

      • True, even considering the extra equipment on the top spec Patrol (HBMC, front/rear locking diffs), it should not be that much more expensive. The base Armada in the US is $49K with the 400 hp V8 – we can’t even get the base 270 hp V6 Patrol in ME for that price.

        The prices here are what people are willing to pay. As long as people do, ME prices will continue to be unreasonably high, especially on desirable models. Can’t really blame the dealers I guess – they will offer more choices only if demand trends require them to do so.

        Giving us folks value-for-money is definitely a luxury they can afford.

  5. Toyota in the Middle East do not really care about customers – which explains why even mid range models barely have standard features.

    King of the road and great resale value – terrible to drive though.

  6. OMG.. you hate Toyota so much for not inviting you guys that almost everywhere yo u try to belittle this new product comparing to Nissan Patrols which develop rattling body noises just after leaving the showroom.

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury Author

      We own a Patrol. We can confirm there are no rattly noises after leaving the showroom.

    • This is so untrue. I currently own a Patrol V8, and with 155k on the clock, no squeaks or rattles anywhere. Before this I had an Altima which I drove approx 200k km over a period of 9 years, no body sound anywhere ever.

      When in the market looking for a full size SUV, I did check LC as well. For me, the biggest turn off was the 3rd row seating in Toyota (and GX/LX too). With the 3rd row up, there is hardly any space for even a stroller. In Patrol, my kids can even sleep with their legs stretched with the 3rd row folded down!

  7. Toyota is shit; Nissan is shitter!!! They both belong to the museum. If you opt for a luxurious bulky offroader, go for American brands as they offer far better value for money for your hard-earned cash. Imagine what you can get for +300k in US brands: You get Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade ,GMC Yokun/Suburban or Chevy Tahoe which offer far better utility as well as great modern look.

    • You must be high.. American cars post 90s are shit. That 300+ mileage comes with a lot of expensive maintenance. given the trend in US is DIY repairs, you can manage. But in GCC, add the cost of mechanic and workshops. suddenly american cars are not worthy..

      • I ment Dhs 300k and not 300k kilometers!!!
        Plus, most people here in UAE sell their vheicles after 5 to 8 years of usage and most of those cars do not even reach the point where you need to spend tons of cash on maintenance..

  8. AFM sales and after sales Sucks with Toyota. Only reason they sell Toyota due to Toyota brand name. When I purchased my FJ Street I tried so many times to get decent information about the mods. No one in Sales team or so called techies were able to assist in any way. After so many attempts I gave up.

  9. Well here comes another offering from AFM the all new Toyota Land Cruiser 2022. Well not much has changed from outside or inside & it is priced much higher than any of its competitors as usual. Toyota LC was outrun by Patrol in the last 5-7 years for sure. Nissan Patrol offers more value for money no doubt. Toyota I guess have to look towards the US Brands like Lincoln & GMC & what they offer @ almost 300K AED. Would definitely give this LC 2022 a pass in favor of its US rivals unless & until AFM/Toyota decide to make its price 80K less which they won’t… 😉 Disappointed by AFM totally.

  10. I would like to by a new car TOYOTA LAND CRUSER 2022 Twin Turbo VXR color Champ.
    It’s possible for you to give me the best price
    Thanks
    M.Challoub

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