For the great indoors
Big as a block of flats, the ’Cruiser will take on the Outback and more
IT PAYS to take the arrival of a “new LandCruiser” with a grain of salt.
Not a lot changes over the years with Toyota’s off-road stalwart. The last genuinely new model launched in 2007, yet there’s still no sign of a true next-generation ’Cruiser.
Instead, Toyota has tweaked the range, focusing mostly on its flagship Sahara, which catches up on industry advances in safety, driver assistance and emissions technology.
The tweaks include four cameras that can provide a
bird’s-eye view of the car, as well as an underfloor view that allows drivers to pick their way over tricky terrain. The front camera will also rotate so the horizon on the screen stays level — giving an idea of how much the vehicle may be tilting.
New safety gear includes blind spot monitoring, automatic high beam, lane departure warning, rear crosstraffic alerts and radar cruise control that automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to match the car in front.
The engines now meet Euro5 emissions regulations and are more fuel efficient. The turbo diesel V8 has an extra 5kW of power, bringing outputs to 200kW/650Nm. It now has a particulate filter, while official fuel consumption has dropped by 8 per cent to 9.5L/100km
There have been subtle changes to the exterior of the car — including two new colours — and the cabin has more soft-touch materials and better quality instrument graphics. And a $5000 price hike for the diesel.
The changes across the rest of the LandCruiser range are smaller, so we borrowed a diesel Sahara to see if the big Toyota can still cut it among a host of new prestige SUV arrivals.
The first thing that hits you about the LandCruiser is its sheer size. It’s a real climb into the cabin, especially for smaller children. But once inside, it’s like an executive lounge on wheels. From the driver’s seat you immediately notice the new instrument panel, which now has a digital readout between the speedo and tacho. The needles and dials have a Lexus look about them.
There’s also more leather on the surfaces you come into contact with, including a padded section next to driver’s left knee. The perforated leather on the seats feels and looks high quality, while the woodgrain highlights are tastefully done.
All the driver assistance technology operates unobtrusively in the background but it’s not as advanced as in some rivals. There’s no automated emergency braking for city driving and no steering assistance in the lane keeping feature.
It might not be the most technologically advanced vehicle on the road but the LandCruiser spoils its occupants with space and quality appointments. There’s a big nine-inch centre screen and bigger DVD screens for the second-row passengers, who are spoiled for leg and headroom.
The third row seats are big enough for adults on short trips. They’re also easy to get into and leave decent luggage space when in place.
ON THE ROAD
There’s no getting around the size of the LandCruiser, particularly in town where it requires vigilance in carparks and on narrow streets. Thankfully, the parking aids — including front and rear sensors on the Sahara and VX — ease the stress a little.
The engine hasn’t had any significant change since it arrived in 2007 but still shifts the two-and-a-half tonne ’Cruiser without fuss.
It is also impressively quiet — apart from a distant ticking when idling at lights, it rarely makes itself noticed.
We got respectable fuel consumption, despite the lack of a stop-start function. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, not sparing the horses when taking off at lights, we logged low teens.
On the freeway the LandCruiser lopes along effortlessly, with luxury car levels of noise suppression. The suspension does a great job of isolating occupants from the road surface, although it can float over bigger bumps at speed. It also won’t stop or change direction in a hurry — it’s more draft horse than quarter horse.
It’s easy to see the LandCruiser’s appeal among those who love the great outdoors and like to use four-wheel drives for what they are built for. It’s comfortable, spacious, bulletproof and impressively refined. Resale value and reliability are top notch. But you can’t help feeling it’s been a little spoiled by success. Toyota hasn’t had to try too hard to keep sales ticking over and it shows.
It doesn’t have the technology it should for the price. For $5000 more than the previous model, owners are entitled to expect more.