PUTTING IN THE MILES

What the Toy­ota Land Cruiser lacks in del­i­cate grace, it makes up for in Her­culean strength, size and en­durance, says Neil Lyn­don

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

The Toy­ota Land Cruiser proves that big is beau­ti­ful

‘What a beau­ti­ful car!’ ex­claimed our host­ess as I was park­ing the new Toy­ota Land Cruiser in the un­der­ground garage of her apart­ment build­ing in Paris.

Per­haps she was try­ing to be kind. Many terms might ap­ply to the Land Cruiser but ‘beau­ti­ful’ would not be the first on many lips.

‘Im­mense’, would have been acutely fit­ting in the cir­cum­stances, see­ing as the Land Cruiser’s roof, stand­ing more than six feet from the ground, only slid un­der her garage ceil­ing with the width of a match­stick to spare.

Our test car was the lat­est ver­sion with re­designed head­lights and bon­net and up­dated in­te­rior; but, es­sen­tially, it is the same as the ver­sion that was in­tro­duced in 2009. ‘Ex­pen­sive’ would also work quite well for a car that costs at least £35,000 even in its most spar­tan form and goes up to about £55,000 for the five-door, seven-seat ver­sion we bor­rowed with its lux­u­ri­ous, high-tech In­vin­ci­ble spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

How­ever, the word for which our host­ess may have been grop­ing, on see­ing the Land Cruiser for the first time in Paris, is ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate’. No­body could deny the ac­cu­racy of that term. In an age teem­ing with looka­like ‘crossovers’ and ur­ban SUVs which are bought for their looks and their per­for­mance on the road, the Land Cruiser stands apart as a gen­uine mav­er­ick – a true hard­core off-roader that can take any­thing the world might throw at it.

Forg­ing a track into the dark­est Orinoco? The Land Cruiser will get there with­out break­ing a sweat. Cross­ing the Out­back? The Land Cruiser will bring you home safely. Tak­ing the fam­ily to Paris? Per­haps we should be think­ing of some­thing a tri­fle more soigné.

The Land Cruiser’s ori­gins date back to the mid­dle of the last cen­tury and it has re­mained recog­nis­ably much the same for decades. It has been in con­tin­u­ous pro­duc­tion longer than any other Toy­ota model and is sold in more coun­tries of the world than any other car. In the far­thest out­posts of hu­man civil­i­sa­tion on Earth, you will al­ways find a Land Cruiser.

They all have the same com­bi­na­tion of qual­i­ties: a pow­er­ful en­gine, low-ra­tio trans­fer gear­box, four-wheel drive trans­mis­sion com­bined with high ground clear­ance and in­de­struc­tible build qual­ity.

So why did we take one within sniff­ing dis­tance of one of Europe’s most con­gested cities? Well, we were on a fam­ily trip to the bat­tle­fields of the Somme where I oc­ca­sion­ally wanted to forge off the beaten track. And we were also ful­fill­ing a long-stand­ing prom­ise to our daugh­ters to take them to Dis­ney­land Paris. For this mix of tasks, the Land Cruiser was per­fect.

The lat­est ver­sion is at least half-civilised in be­ing serenely si­lent and com­fort­able on mo­tor­ways. It won’t take a cor­ner with­out ten min­utes’ no­tice but its high seat­ing and Lexus-like lev­els of kit and ac­ces­sori­sa­tion make it ideal ac­com­mo­da­tion for the long au­toroute slog from Calais to the Paris pé­riphérique. The six-speed au­to­matic 2.8 diesel in our test car could barely top 30 mpg or ac­cel­er­ate from 0-60 mph in un­der 11 sec­onds but it could cruise at 80mph un­til the end of time.

The mas­sive rear door swings out on ver­ti­cal hinges rather than up, like a tail­gate. With the rear row of seats folded, how­ever, the load­space is big enough for a fam­ily to go away for a year.

In my eyes, it truly is beau­ti­ful.

“It is a true hard­core off-roader that can take any­thing the world might throw at it

Be­low: Big and the bold, the Toy­ota Land Cruiser.

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