Toy­ota Land Cruiser

We try to get it stuck off road

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - MATT PRIOR

MILEAGE 9743 WHY WE’RE RUN­NING IT To see if a util­ity ve­hi­cle is an en­dear­ing ev­ery­day ve­hi­cle

Ihave been off-road. Prop­erly, I mean, not just pootling down a wee green lane in Sur­rey for a few pic­tures, or crawl­ing around a rough horse yard, which was the pre­vi­ous limit of where I’d asked the Toy­ota Land Cruiser to boldly go.

Now, though, I’ve spent a day in a dis­used quarry, work­ing the Land Cruiser’s axle ar­tic­u­la­tion and try­ing, and by and large fail­ing, to get it stuck. This is the prob­lem with the Land Cruiser: you ask it to do some­thing that would seem ex­treme to most SUVS, and it just mooches along like it’s on a trip to the shops – be­cause, in some coun­tries, that’s what a trip to the shops looks like.

Any­way, the re­sult­ing story, which fea­tured the new Suzuki Jimny along­side the Toy­ota, was on these pages and on Youtube a cou­ple of weeks ago, so the re­sult is known: the Land Cruiser will go fur­ther of­froad than a Jimny (which prob­a­bly shouldn’t be a huge sur­prise), although there are ar­eas where, down to sheer ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, life is eas­ier in the tiny, scam­per­ing Suzuki. But with a tight turn­ing cir­cle and short wheel­base, in this three-door form I won­der if the Ford Fo­cus-length Land Cruiser isn’t the next most ag­ile ‘proper’ off-roader cur­rently on sale.

Of course, when you’re a real 4x4 of small ex­te­rior pro­por­tions, much of which ap­pears to be frontal over­hang, there are pay­offs. One is a side pro­file shared with a roller skate, the other is deal­ing with a rel­a­tively small, 380-litre boot when the rear seats are in place. Flip­ping them for­wards and rais­ing that to 720 litres doesn’t take long, but the load cover – which doesn’t have much space to cross be­tween seats and tail­gate – ap­pears to be fit­ted across the widest part of the in­te­rior, so get­ting it in and out of the car takes real dex­ter­ity and is some­thing, if you reg­u­larly take big bags, you have to do a lot. There’s also no easy other place to store it in the cabin, so were it not for my oc­ca­sional need to hide what’s in the boot for se­cu­rity’s sake, I’d just take it out and leave it in the garage.

The rear seat backs, though, can be set to var­i­ous po­si­tions: up­right to max­imise boot space, or more re­clined than is usual in a car – handy for nip­pers who want to doze off on long jour­neys.

They are still the kind of trips I’m giv­ing the Land Cruiser most of the time: reg­u­lar ev­ery­day mo­tor­way drives, on which it’s very com­fort­able, with leggy gear­ing and a re­laxed gait and low noise lev­els, which makes set­tling into a 70mph cruise ex­tremely easy but does leave peo­ple like me open to ac­cu­sa­tions of need­lessly driv­ing a big 4x4. Thing is, like a lot of peo­ple, some­times I need its more ex­treme abil­i­ties, and pre­sum­ably it’s bet­ter, as well as con­sid­er­ably cheaper, to only own a sin­gle all-pur­pose car than two spe­cific-pur­pose ones.

The Land Cruiser is prov­ing so allpur­pose that be­tween spo­radic bouts of ar­tic­u­lat­ing its axles, within three months of hav­ing it, I’ve cov­ered more than 9000 miles and al­ready need to book it in for a mi­nor ser­vice. More on which next time.

Rear seats ad­just to max­imise boot space

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