Big 4x4 that makes you feel Invincible
TREE huggers should look away now… but for those who enjoy driving through woodland – or in a vehicle that looks like it easily could – here’s the car for you.
The Toyota Land Cruiser has been a bit of a bruiser ever since the first model was launched in the 1950s. Watch news footage of war-torn areas in Africa and the Middle East and chances are many on both sides are running around in old Toyota 4x4s, with the Land Cruiser being the local warlord’s transport of choice.
So they are tough trucks – in fact the Land Cruiser has for many years been the best-selling 4x4 in Australia, especially in the Outback. To date more than five million have been sold in 176 countries.
Then there is the sheer size of the thing… and as a Defender driver I can tell you size matters in the 4x4 community. I remember seeing my first Land Cruiser in the UK in the mid-1980s and was blown away with the sheer enormity of the thing – we were all running around in Chevettes and Mk2 Escorts which were dwarfed by the big 4x4.
Also a good off-roader has to have a real macho name – Cherokee, Warrior, Animal, Bighorn, Shogun, Maverick, Blazer, Pathfinder, Touareg, Outlander, Jimny… well perhaps not the last one.
So our test car this week, the Land Cruiser Invincible, scores on every level so far.
The current incarnation was launched last year and was the most comprehensive makeover of the model since 2009 – with new exterior trim including a distinctive, redesigned front end with a deeper bumper, ‘heritage-inspired’ grille and new light clusters. There are revised rear lamp units and new alloy wheel designs and exterior colour choices and a redesigned dashboard to make its improved on and off-road drive and suspension systems easier to use.
Also new is a second colour screen in the instrument binnacle with extended functions including a body angle gauge, traction control operation monitoring on each wheel and the status of the differential locks plus tyre pressure warning, headlamp levelling, traction control status and blind spot monitor alerts.
The model’s three-tier grade classifications were also changed in 2014 to Active, Icon and Invincible, bringing the range in line with Toyota’s other all-wheel drive models.
Land Cruisers have surround sound premium audio, triple-zone automatic air conditioning and a Blu-Ray/gaming entertainment package for rear seat passengers with a large flip down screen in the roof… so no more I-spy when you take the little ones on a big trip.
Other improvements include the first use of Toyota’s Touch 2 and Touch 2 with Go multimedia and navigation systems with better functionality, display and features.
Additionalddi i ld advancedd technology gives better handling, safety and driver guidance, including rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitors, trailer stability control a precollision braking system and adaptive cruise control.
The new trailer stability control system (standard on Invincible models) uses yaw rate, steering and acceleration sensors to detect any sway developing in a trailer and initiate deceleration and yaw moment control.
The adaptive variable suspension (AVS) allows the driver to fine-tune the Land Cruiser’s ride and electronic rear air suspension (Invincible models) works with the AVS to give better stability and ride quality, regardless of how many people or the load on board.
Cameras b beneath hh the door mirrors and front and rear bumpers give the driver a view on the dashboard screen of areas immediately all around the vehicle that might be hard to see when going off-road or parking in a tight spot.
Just one engine option is offered on UK models, a 3.0-litre D-4D diesel engine with either five-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual giving 0 to 62 in 11 seconds and a 109 mph top speed.
Mpg is 29 urban, very nearly 40 extra-urban and 35 combined, which considering the size (over 4.7 metres long and nearly two metres tall and wide) is none too shabby.
So there is lots of clever kit for your £53,355 (top of the range Invincible), although Land Cruiser motoring can be had for much less with base models starting at £35,855.
But what’s it like behind the wheel? Well with such size and sheer road presence you feel like a king of the road (and off-road). Like all Toyotas it’s well put together and there are lots of toys... but most importantly it feels as tough as old boots.