Few SUVs can keep up with the Toyota Land Cruiser on a tricky off-road trail, but it’s noisy on a smooth tarmac road and expensive to run
The Toyota Land Cruiser is a rugged, go-anywhere four-wheel drive SUV with a spacious cabin and a durable diesel engine with plenty of pulling power.
It might not be as upmarket inside as a Land Rover Discovery, but it’s just as spacious. The back seats in five-seat models are wide, soft and supportive and even the rearmost seats in three-row Invincible versions are spacious enough for adults to get comfy.
It’s not just people the Land Cruiser can carry with ease – its boot is pretty spacious, too. There’s room for four large suitcases in five-seat mode and space to load up some camping gear and a pair of mountain bikes with their wheels attached with all the back seats folded.
Sadly, while it’s just as practical as other large SUVs, the Toyota certainly doesn’t feel as high-tech. Pick an entry-level car and you’ll have to make do without any touchscreen infotainment system at all and even the eight-inch display in Active models doesn’t come with satellite navigation as standard. For that you’ll have to pick a high-spec Icon or Invincible model.
The Land Cruiser is one of the most capable off-roaders you can buy – no wonder it’s been around for 65 years and is now sold in more than 190 countries
So it might not feel quite as modern inside as some alternatives, but the Land Cruiser does come with a host of fancy tech designed to make crossing the Namibian desert feel as easy as a Surrey school run. In addition to lockable differentials for extra grip on slippery surfaces there’s a ‘crawl’ feature that’ll help you tackle steep inclines with ease – think of it as off-road cruise control.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel quite as at home on the smooth tarmac roads you’re likely to spend most of your time on. Its old-fashioned suspension might be great at coping with knee-deep mud but it’s less adept at ironing out bumps and potholes around town and you’ll hear a lot more wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds than in a Land Rover, Audi or BMW. The Land Cruiser’s automatic gearbox isn’t quite as smooth or as responsive as in most alternatives, either.
Thankfully, the Toyota’s 2.8-litre diesel engine makes up for the gearbox’s shortfalls. It has plenty of pulling power – ideal if you regularly haul heavy trailers. Unfortunately, this poke comes at the expense of heavy fuel consumption – you’ll be lucky to see more than 30mpg in normal driving conditions. Not great when some alternatives can touch 50mpg.
Similarly, the Toyota doesn’t come with quite as many high-tech features as the Discovery, Audi Q7 or BMW X5, but if you can live with that compromise – and regularly head off road or tow a trailer – it’s definitely worth a second look. And, if you are looking for a 4×4, have a look through our list of The top 10 best 4x4s on sale, or if you need to carry lots of people, try one of The 10 best 7-seater off-roaders.