There’s a reason why the UN buys these by the thousands.
If you spend most of your time driving on unsealed surfaces, trekking up and down the country, or hauling more than you really ought to be, you’d likely be a little miffed at how car manufacturers are pandering to the urban set who want to look like they do what you do. The school run is populated almost exclusively with high-riding family cars, a lot of them more show than go should the going get rough. So much so that if you ask a salesperson in a showroom about a low-range gearbox, they’ll just end up confused.
Thankfully, Toyota hasn’t forgotten you. Where other SUVs have gotten plusher and more pliant at the expense of off-road ability, the Toyota Land Cruiser just shakes its head at the competition. There is likely no other car as capable as a Land Cruiser, at least not with one that has leather seats, satellite navigation, and intelligent cruise control. On top of that, you get that badge on the steering wheel that means it’ll never break, which will be of great comfort when you’re tackling the very worst terrain the world can throw at you.
Yes, there are more efficient, more engaging, more shapely SUVs out there, but they’re designed primarily for the road. The Land Cruiser’s sheer infallibility means assured progress no matter what the obstacle, with immense comfort and pliancy when you’re eating up the miles on sealed surfaces every once in a while. Now packing more high-tech features and updated styling, the Land Cruiser makes good on its promise of up-to-date appeal with old-world ability. But is it worth its astronomical asking price?
“Probably the car that gave Red Ken more sleepless nights than anything, and you’ve got to love it for that. Utterly bulletproof luxo-truck. Peace of mind, Baghdad style.” - TopGear
If you’re an American, or you like that kind of brash, in-your-face sort of styling, the Land Cruiser will likely be love at first sight. Where SUVs are growing more curves than Kim Kardashian, the Land Cruiser stands tall, slab-sided and proud, marking itself out as one of very few true-blue off-road capable vehicles. A decade ago, it would have been too utilitarian. Today, it’s refreshing.
The Land Cruiser may have an old-world charm about it, but a smattering of updated bits and pieces see it sit comfortably on today’s showroom floor. There are LEDs on the front and rear, with higher-end models getting fancy multi-beam units replete with full-beam capability to match a collapsed sun, smart alloy wheels, and enough chrome to satisfy the chintziest preferences.
It’s a glorious thing to behold, and it certainly has presence on the road. And you’re definitely not going to lose it in a carpark.
Engine & Drivetrain
“New fuel injectors and revised engine mapping for the aurally-pleasant 4.5-litre DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo intercooled direct-injection diesel V8…” - Loaded 4X4
There are two engines on offer in the Land Cruiser. There’s a 4.7-litre V8 petrol, putting out 228kW of power and 439Nm of twist. No turbochargers here; This is a full-fat, old-school V8 that’ll cruise along lazily all day long. Despite its six-speed automatic, the petrol isn’t particularly frugal, with 13.4L/100k claimed on the standard testing cycle, which is ambitious to say the least.
The better of the two powerplants is the oiler. Measuring 4.5-litres in size and offering a more modest 200kW, the V8 turbodiesel offers a whopping 650Nm of twist from as little as 1600rpm. This engine is far more suited to the Land Cruiser, as you hear and feel very little of it within the cabin, but provides the enormous SUV some proper long-legged ability. Fuel consumption benefits too, with a claimed 9.9L/100km on the combined cycle, a figure that can be easily achieved on motorway runs. It also gives the Land Cruiser the ability to tow a small moon, which is always good.
“The grey-on-grey trim is bland but rugged, and there's a plain Jane presentation to the dash; big buttons and legible controls.” - Drive
When substance comes before style, this is the cabin you get. There are many, many large buttons with markings so clear that you can see them from space, which Toyota says were designed that way so you’d have little issue using them with gloves on. It’s much the same with the big, chunky steering wheel, and equally-enormous steering wheel buttons (on selected variants), all made for usability rather than aesthetics. Of course, it’s not all work and no play, though it’s close: Posher variants get things like wood-grain trim, leather seats, and a big touchscreen infotainment system.
The agricultural Land Cruiser hides its tractor-like roots very well though, thanks to big seats that are incredibly welcoming, with the electric front pews (on higher models) offering endless amounts of adjustment to get things just so. Due to the cavernous proportions of the big Toyota, you can fit up to eight people inside, with the second- and third-row able to accommodate three adults abreast without a fuss.
Behind the Wheel
“Although you’re always are that this is a large off-roader, it doesn’t feel like it weighs nearly three tonnes.” - Autocar
While the Land Cruiser has seemingly bucked the ‘urban SUV’ trend, it has at least gained some road manners over the years. While it won’t set your heart on fire the way a Porsche Cayenne or even a Land Rover Discovery can, it’s pretty accomplished as a motorway cruiser. It’s got great stability, even at speed, though we’d advise that that speed be scrubbed before coming near a corner.
The Land Cruiser’s soft suspension setup soaks up lumps and bumps, and the Kinetic Dynamic Chassis Control (KDCC) that’s available on some models helps with body control, but it still leans around bends more than most. The body-on-frame construction (where the body rests on top of a separate chassis frame) means it isn’t dynamic either, and robs a little on-road refinement, but it’s far from torturous.
Where the Land Cruiser really shines is on unsealed surfaces. That separate frame means the big Toyota is stiffer than most, and once you’ve flicked into low-range and engaged the diff locks, you’re ready to take on the meanest terrain the world can throw at you. Aiding this is the sheer dependability of the Land Cruiser, which will happily take on scrapes and bumps for longer than other cars in its segment, with the grunt of the diesel giving it a real sense of relentlessness on rough terrain.
Safety & Technology
“All Land Cruiser 200s bar the commercial-grade GX rate as Excellent for safety.” - WhichCar
The Land Cruiser might have been designed for work in the bush, but it’s well-equipped to handle the sort of on-road mishaps that can happen. There are at least 8 airbags on all models, with VX and Sahara models getting an additional two to round it up to 10. The extra two are for second-row passengers, that gain thorax-protection from side-on shunts. The Sahara also gets active safety kit, like adaptive cruse control, autonomous emergency braking, and brake assist. There’s also blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert, though all of this is only on the highest-grade Sahara.
All Land Cruisers benefit from a maximum 5-star ANCAP safety rating, thanks to the generous smattering of airbags and a strong, rigid body structure.
All SUVs can trace their lineage back to agricultural roots, but while most have elected to hide that as much as possible, the Land Cruiser seems to cherish it. It’s remained true to form, offering excellent off-road capability with a cabin that’s more comfortable than most living rooms (and larger, too). The Land Cruiser is a true off-roader, and while there are cheaper ways to get this kind of ability, almost none of them pack a powerplant comparable to the thunderous, earth-moving V8 diesel that the big Toyota has. Rather than a luxury car that goes off road, think of the Land Cruiser as an off-roader with luxury kit, and you’ve got the right idea.
The Land Cruiser sits a little uncomfortably in the market, though. With smaller models like the Prado and Fortuner offering similar ability (lacking only V8 grunt), and the Kluger better road manners, the big Land Cruiser seems to sit awkwardly even in the Toyota lineup. That said, if you need to do many, many miles on unsealed surfaces, the V8 Land Cruiser is a difficult proposition to pass up.
The sweet spot in the range is the VX, with its plush cabin and relatively palatable price. Of course, higher end models are nicer still, but steep prices means that you’ll likely end up looking at posher options like the Land Rover Discovery or even the Jeep Grand Cherokee. That said though, if you’re looking for an enormous off-roader that is never fazed, the Land Cruiser is the car for you.
WhichCar - 4.0/5.0 - “The Toyota LandCruiser is as good as it gets if you want to head Outback in a big and comfortable four-wheel drive wagon. Even if Outback travel is not on your to-do list, the 200 Series is surprisingly friendly in the city for a vehicle this big.”
CarsGuide - 4.5/5.0 - “Toyota's Land Cruiser 200 Series is the undisputed king of 4WD wagons in Australia; it's the big kahuna of beach-and-bush adventure. The Land Cruiser, as an Unbreakable brand, has a legion of die-hard fans. And for good reason: it's a handsome, hefty beast offering plenty of room inside, a very comfortable ride, ample towing grunt and stacks of off-road ability.”
Drive - 8.0/10 - “It’s a car pitched as “king off the road,” yet it’s so often confined to the suburbs thanks to seating for up to eight, and the type of king-of-the-road ride that so many love. But the heritage of the Land Cruiser lies very much in Australia’s remote regions.”
Loaded 4X4 - 3.8/5.0 - “As a package straight off the showroom the LandCruiser does it all with indifferent ease; add a couple of diff locks and decent off-road tyres and it’s difficult to imagine where this car could not reasonably go, but you are paying top-dollar for the chance to find out.”
TopGear - 4.0/10 - “Almost literally bomb-proof, and great off road. On it, however…”
Autocar - 3.0/5.0 - “As a long-term ownership proposition, Toyota’s legendary tough build quality means it’s second to none. If you’re in search of the genuine article, this is it.”
CarAdvice - 8.0/10 - “While the LandCruiser 200 GXL isn’t as technologically up-to-date or well-equipped as some of its competition around that 100k mark, it remains a rock solid, tough as nails, capable off-roader that will tackle anything you throw at it.”
Kelly Blue Book - 6.7/10 - “Although it looks and feels nothing like the original Land Cruiser that debuted so many years ago, Toyota’s Land Cruiser remains dedicated to its original purpose.”