Lebanon, Iraq, Bosnia The Congo, these are the voyages of the starship Land Cruiser, to boldly traverse the worlds most dangerous conflict zones like no other 4×4 in history. If a bomb is detonated in an alley way in some far reaching civil war and you just happened to be in a Land Cruiser your journey would be unhindered. Legendary for its robustness, reliability and domineering off road abilities the Land Cruiser is master of earth, wind & fire because where ever there is a mountain peak the Land Cruiser will scale it.
The Land Cruisers’ beginning, somewhat ironically, began in a conflict zone, the year was 1941 and the combat arena was the occupied territory of the Philippines. There the Imperial Japanese army found an abandoned American Jeep, they commandeered it, shipped it back to Japan and systematically copied it, no record of the AK10 exists. Now 72 years later its spiritual successor, the Land Cruiser, continues its unstoppable march, ferrying aid to those who need it, protecting diplomats or perfectly adapting to the rigors and demands of urban, civilian life.
The UK spec Land Cruiser is available in three trim levels and features one diesel engine for the entire range, a 3.0 litre, 4-four cylinders in-line unit which outputs 188bhp and 420Nm of torque and has a top speed of 109mph and does the 0-62 dash in 11.0 seconds. Prices start from £32k for the entry level LC3 and up to £52k for the LC5. The Land Cruiser is visually a big vehicle, it doesn’t look as elegant as say the Range Rover, the exterior design is more imposingly functional and that trend continues inside. The interior build quality is faultless but again errs on the side of functional.
The central media hub looks like an after market job rather than one sinuous flowing design. The top of the range LC5 spec gets wood inserts, leather trimmed seats and all the kit Toyota could throw in, however it doesn’t offer the lush, design studio experience offered by one of its key rivals, the Land Rover Discovery.
The Land Cruiser is a Ladder on Frame construction which in layman’s term is a bit like making a car out of Lego, such a construction has advantages and disadvantages, torsional stiffness being one of such disadvantage. Whilst the Land Cruiser is apt at cornering its safe to say that it will never be a drivers car. However Toyota have loaded the Land Cruiser with more technology than NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover. Adaptive Variable Suspension with its sport and comfort setting alters the stiffness of the suspension at the touch of a button. You feel a slight improvement, a sharper steering input which feels more energetic on turn in, a slightly stiffer suspension but in truth the Land Cruiser has a soft ride no matter what mode you select, and by no means is this a disadvantage in any way.
Make no mistake the Land Cruiser LC5 is a proper 4×4 off-roader with a limited slip differential, low-range gear, a center and rear diff lock and a variable front to rear torque distribution of 50:50 to 30:70 percent. Then there is Multi-Terrain Select, a four mode program which is designed to cope with a variety of surfaces from mud/sand/loose rock, external camera’s give you an almost 360 degree vision, viewed via the on board monitor, great for off-road better for car parks. The technology bonanza doesn’t end there five crawl speed setting’s ensure off-road wading is maneuvered gracefully. Downhill Assist Control and traction control all this technology is number crunched by the computer, its a type of artificial sixth sense which controls your off-road deficiencies and all you have to do is just drive.
LC5 spec actually translates into seven seats, this is probably the Land Cruiser’s party piece for the third row seats lift into position by the push of a button, no more clever folding seats to lift just unlimited push button power. Being a big car the Land Cruiser is naturally spacious, there is no point quantifying boot space its huge with the seats up or down. All of this machinery is lugged around via the power of the 3.0, diesel its powerful enough, quite on the move, smooth and fairly refined for a 4 cylinder engine as is the case with the 5 speed automatic but its fair too say Land Rover’s V6 diesel is marginally more refined and quieter. Fuel consumption averaged around 28mpg on a combined cycle if driven sensibly, but decide to increase the pace then average fuel consumption can dip too around 22mpg.
With 60 years of continuous development the Land Cruiser has 4×4 credibility, its a functional vehicle with a nod to the ”premium crowd”. The Land Cruiser is like the Terminator of the 4×4 world, packed full of off-road technology its ability to tackle this green and pleasant land should not to be underestimated. There is almost an indestructible quality about the Land Cruiser, it may not have the style but it has the off-road and urban credibility and one could even say there is beauty to be found in functionality.