£33,905 - £59,140 Price range
5 - 7 Seats
34 - 39 MPG
The Toyota Land Cruiser is a large, rugged off-roader disguised as a road-going SUV. Its rivals are the Land Rover Discovery 4, Volkswagen Touareg and Mercedes GLE, but arguably none offer the Toyota’s durability.
After a facelift in 2015, the big Toyota got a new engine among other, less significant, updates. It’s smaller in capacity and less powerful than the one it replaces, but has improved running costs and more pulling power.
Inside it’s not the most modern of interiors, but Land Cruiser buyers tend to prioritise durability and robustness over technology and the Toyota has them both in spades. Interior space is plenty and the boot is big, too, making the Land Cruiser a very practical 4×4.
Out on paved roads it’s outclassed by all of its competitors with lots of body roll and wind noise, but when the going gets tough, few can match the off-road prowess of the Land Cruiser. No matter the quality of the road or the lack of it, the Toyota drives on.
Since the 2015 facelift, equipment levels have improved and entry-level Land Cruisers come with cruise control, air-conditioning and a rear-view camera is just about all that is noteworthy.
For the driver, operating all of the equipment on the move is a rather haphazard affair – there are switches scattered all over the place, and the materials look and feel like Toyota has only focussed on the durability and toughness of the interior. It falls quite a way behind some competitors that feel more expensive and luxurious – making them more special places to be.
However, most Land Cruiser buyers aren’t looking for VW-style piano-black lacquer or an Audi-style virtual cockpit – an interior that can withstand years of abuse is what they want and, in that regard, the Land Cruiser is hard to fault.
Toyota Land Cruiser passenger space
The interior is vast, sturdily built, and five adults can be transported with plenty of personal space to call their own. With the two extra seats in place, it’s fair to say that seven adults can still travel in relative comfort.
Toyota Land Cruiser boot space
With 621-litres of space, a wide-opening boot and no loading lip to carry groceries over, the seven-seater Land Cruiser is very practical. There’s more luggage space than in the VW Touareg (580 litres), for example. If you opt for the seven-seater Land Cruiser and use all of the seats, there is still around 150-litres of space, which is below average in class, though. Go for the three-door model and boot space drops to 380 litres.
The Land Cruiser has a commanding driving position that allows the driver to plot a course with confidence, aided by the light steering. The car is happiest when you turn off the beaten track, where testers say it becomes surprisingly intuitive – some even say it has more ability than most owners will ever need.
The superb off-road chassis does nothing for the ride on-road – most models have three suspension settings available, but reviewers were hard pressed to find any real differences between them. Manoeuvring the car around a town centre is daunting in itself because of its sheer size.
Toyota’s newly-developed 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel replaced the larger 3.0-litre diesel after the 2015 facelift and improved smoothness and refinement – but it’s still not on the level of the latest six-cylinder engines in rivals. The Land Cruiser weighs 2.5 tonnes, and with 177hp you’ll find that overtaking isn’t a particularly nippy experience. The engine is rattly at high revs, although engine noise is generally kept out of the cabin at a cruise.
Again – and there is a theme developing here – it’s much better off-road, where the huge low-down torque is appreciated and its crudeness is forgotten in favour of its bomb-proof reliability. Regardless of where you go, you’ll be filling the gargantuan 87-litre fuel tank more often that you’d like – few owners will see more than 25mpg in normal use, although on a long steady run this figure may move closer to the official fuel consumption figure of 38mpg. With the new engine CO2 emissions have also gone down.
There are no Euro NCAP crash test results for the Land Cruiser, but it has a stability control system and seven airbags as standard. Even the extra two passengers in the rearmost seats are protected from side impacts by curtain airbags.
On top of the usual standard safety tech such as traction control and ABS, the Land Cruiser also has passive safety features including an emergency braking system that warns drivers behind you when the vehicle is slowing sharply by flashing the brake lights.
If you opt for the £2,635 Safety Pack you get adaptive cruise control, lane assist and rear cross traffic alert, which warns you if a car is approaching when you’re backing out of a parking spot. Furthermore, a 360-degree view of the surroundings can be displayed on the car’s screen, which Toyota calls Multi-Terrain Monitor.
Aid agencies and the United Nations choose the Land Cruiser because it has earned an enviable reputation as one of the most reliable and competent four-wheel drive vehicles on sale. The reassurance that the car is about as dependable as one could hope for means for some, it represents excellent value for money.
Toyota Land Cruiser Active
The basic Land Cruiser is good value – it significantly undercuts European rivals – but this cheapness is reflected by the fact that it does not have the sophisticated electronic suspension aids and locking rear differential that the top-of-the-range Invincible has. The Land Cruiser Active does, however, come with fog lights, air-conditioning, DAB digital radio, keyless entry and a touchscreen multimedia system called Toyota Touch 2.
Toyota Land Cruiser Icon
The middle-of-the-range Icon trim is, in our eyes, the best value. As well as front and rear heated leather seats you also get a powerful JBL stereo system, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers and keyless entry.
Toyota Land Cruiser Invincible
The Land Cruiser Invincible is expensive, but it’s an utterly unstoppable off-roader. It still has a rather underpowered engine and uninspiring interior, though. You still get the typical expensive SUV luxuries such as climate control, a DVD player for rear-seat entertainment and all of the optional safety systems from the Safety Pack mentioned above, as standard.
The problem the Toyota Land Cruiser has is the Land Rover Discovery, which beats it hands-down in every area except reliability – where the British SUV still has some significant ground to make up.
For most people, the Land Cruiser is perhaps too off-road biased to make sense as everyday transport, and more expensive but refined rivals like the Discovery or Volkswagen Touareg are better options.
However, for those living in the middle of nowhere, with no access to dealership facilities, who need a dependable, go-anywhere off-roader that’ll work more or less forever, a Land Cruiser is one of the few choices worth considering.