Toyota Land Cruiser
We try to get it stuck off road
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