2018 Toyota Land Cruiser: Driven

That Toyota sells way more Land Cruisers to the United Nations and NGOs than it does in the UK tells you a reasonable amount of what you need to know about its big 4x4. The new Land Cruiser remains a body-on-frame off-roader, capable of towing three braked tonnes and equipped - in the UK, anyway - with a 2.8-litre diesel engine of only four cylinders. That only makes 177hp, but also 331lb ft, so it isn't fast, but it can haul.

It is, then, all it has recently been; the default choice, worldwide, for those who need what it can offer: off-road approach, breakover and departure angles on a par with a Land Rover Discovery, a low-range set of gears, a 700mm wading depth and the kind of reliability and durability that makes Toyota the dominant vehicle manufacturer in places that don't have shiny premium dealerships and where they value cars that don't trouble the warranty.

What's new now, then? The body/chassis combo is 11 per cent stiffer than it was, the suspension - double-wishbones at the front and a four-link setup mounting a live axle at the rear - has been made stronger and tuned for more stability. The hydraulically-assisted power steering gets a new tune and a Torsen limited-slip differential has become available, too, adding to a pretty bold raft of off-road attributes.

A mild redesign of the interior that wouldn't give an Audi Q7 much to worry about has mostly been done to make the Land Cruiser's off-road systems easier to use (an Audi interior redesign would probably make something like booking a restaurant easier, so context is all). As well as the low-ratio 'box, then, there's a locking centre differential, still a lockable rear-differential (an open one or the top-spec Torsen are the three options there), a crawl-control (low speed cruise control, effectively, but it's also very good at freeing the Land Cruiser from rest when you think it's otherwise stuck), a button to make it start in second gear, one to raise the body and a dial for 'Multi Terrain Select'. That helps the traction and stability control, ABS and throttle modulation do you whatever favours they can off-road: so in Sand and Mud you get more wheel slip than in rock, for example.

Anyway, beyond all of that you can spec air suspension (it wouldn't lift otherwise), adaptive dampers, hydraulic links between corners to keep the body flat, and so on. All of this stuff is standard on the 'Invincible' variant, the UK's top spec model, which retails in 5dr automatic form at £52,295 and doesn't want for much else. Most UK buyers opt for this.

But being a body-on-frame design, and what with the Land Rover Defender having disappeared from sale, Toyota hasn't failed to spot another opportunity, so the new Land Cruiser gets a new Utility spec - coil sprung and steel wheeled, at not much more than £34,000 for a five-door manual. Which I think has quite a lot of appeal.

So do the more expensive versions, mind, so long as you remember what this car is about. Given the solid rear axle, high centre of gravity and the knowledge that most people around the world wouldn't look twice at the kind of 4x4 that dominates the UK sales charts, it's unreasonable to expect the Land Cruiser to feel as sophisticated on Tarmac as those road-biased luxury SUVs.

But it's quiet enough (even considering it only has four cylinders), rides comfortably, the 'box shifts easily, the view out is imperious, and the chairs are huge and comfortable. Given it's also a 2,430kg, 1.8m high, 4.8m long off-roader with an unimpeachable reputation for standing up to the harshest environments on the planet, then, it's rather difficult not to like it. There's an honesty to it, huge integrity too, and unlike a lot of SUVs, it doesn't say a great deal about you, beyond the fact that you've obviously bought it because you need it. You're not just buying a car that looks like the real thing, it is the real thing.


Engine: 2,755cc 4-cyl diesel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 177@3,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 331@1,600-2,400rpm
0-62mph: 12.7sec
Top speed: 108mph
Weight: 2,430kg
MPG: 44.8
CO2: 194g/km
Price: £52,295











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Comments (71) Join the discussion on the forum

  • romac 02 Feb 2018

    Having joined the Toyota clan a year ago (Auris Touring Sport Hybrid), I find myself strangely drawn to the Land Cruiser. Reliability, capability, honesty, etc. Still remember that TopGear HiLux! Can't help thinking Land Rover have missed a huge trick here, especially the Defender going out of production before having a suitable replacement.

  • Ocellia 02 Feb 2018

    Just got around to persuading self that (after your article) I don't want a Pajero Dakar 4X4....you produce THIS! At least it might be possible to lpg this one (Pajero too small)!! (Whoops!! It's a diesel....)
    Nothing like a reliable car in these days of ever more complex (and problem prone) things.
    Remember the old 2CV ad that had no features......NOTHING TO GO WRONG! was the slogan.

  • Bibbs 02 Feb 2018

    Only engine options I can see are a 4.5tt diesel, or a 4.6 petrol. I'd take the petrol any day.

    Glad I'm in Australia to get the proper options.

    Edit to say, ignore me. It's not the 200 but the baby LC.

    Edited by Bibbs on Friday 2nd February 14:23

  • nicfaz 02 Feb 2018

    I wonder what the rustproofing is like though - I had one and whilst the mechanicals kept going, the underneath did not like the British winter combination of water (lots) and salt (also lots). Hopefully they are better now.

  • Tidybeard 02 Feb 2018

    I really want one of these - they're much better than they are given credit for and are brilliant all-round vehicles (if a little expensive now).

    The last couple of times I've changed cars I've test driven one and liked everything about it except...the engine. It can barely get the car moving and it's totally gutless. Feels like it needs at least another 100bhp. That leads you to the V8 variant, the most recent of which are at least two years old now and fetching £55k vs new list price of £60k. Bugger.

    Drop the V8 diesel in this version (or even a gutsy petrol engine) and it would be the only car I would ever need. Please do it Toyota.

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