"Mighty off road ability and total mechanical dependability make the Land Cruiser a top choice for anyone considering a journey to the ends of the earth. However, it lacks the comfort and versatility of rivals like the Land Rover Discovery 4."
Tonka-toy looks and incredible mechanical toughness make the Land Cruiser a popular choice for drivers who are planning big adventures off-road. If it's gadgets galore you’re after, though, you won’t be disappointed, as the cabin is well equipped, with satellite navigation, air-conditioning and electric windows standard on top-specification models. Inside, the interior looks and feels a little dated, but at least there's a new dashboard that gathers together all those easy to use controls in a smart looking fashion. Chunky indicator stalks and heater controls are in keeping with the car's no-nonsense image.
If you step from the driving seat of a car like the Ford Fiesta, the Toyota Land Cruiser will feel heavy, unwieldy and intimidating to drive. The vague steering is another letdown, and there's precious little feedback. Along winding roads the car often feels as though it is lumbering. The addition of electronically controlled suspension reduces body roll, while road and wind noise at motorway speeds is not as bad as you might imagine, given the blunt nose and chunky tyres. A four-cylinder diesel engine offers low CO2 emmissions, but it isn’t as smooth as Land Rover's 3.0 TDV6. Nevertheless, it suits the Toyota's workhorse character.
The Toyota Land Cruiser's rattle free cabin is a testament to the excellent build quality. However, the car is far from perfect. Despite a new adjustable Adaptive Variable Suspension system which is designed to react to - and smooth over - rough roads, the Toyota never seems totally settled. It offers a variety of driver settings. However, in comfort mode it wallows and floats, while in the dynamic setting its body fidgets over the smallest lumps and bumps.
Few cars are built to withstand the abuse you can throw at a Land Cruiser. Owners all seem to agree, there are few cars that will prove so dependable and trouble free. Perfectly suited to life in the extremes (anyone who travels a lot will tell you they are as familiar a sight near the world's hot Equator as it's frigid poles) the Land Cruiser has an unrivaled reputation for toughness. Safety is reasonable, with all cars fitted with driver and passenger airbags, as well as traction and stability control.
On paper, the top specification car's seven-seat cabin sounds extremely practical, but the Land Cruiser's narrow track and large engine and suspension components intrude on the cockpit and make the car feel small inside. What's more, rear seats are not easy to fold flat, like they are in the Land Rover Discovery. We would recommend the five seater.
Value for money
At almost £50,000, the Land Cruiser is far from cheap, however, it is well equipped, and offers value for money - given that second hand prices are relatively strong. According to the latest figures (January 2011) drivers can expect their Land Cruiser to retain about 40 percent of its value over three years - that's as much as some premium models, from BMW and Mercedes.
The big 3.0-litre four-cylinder engine returns up to 34.8mpg - equivalent to 214g/km of CO2. That's comparatively little for such a big engine, and will help keep tax bills low. Insurance is high, but as this car is so reliable you can trust that servicing and maintenance costs will be reasonable. Just make sure you budget for replacement tyres and clutches if you plan on off-roading, or towing. Both activities are sure to wear the car more quickly.