Toyota Land Cruiser V8

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Toyota Land Cruiser V8 Car Review | December 21, 2007

Driven December 2007

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Never has the phrase 'slow-in, fast-out' been more appropriate, though. Let's just say that on-road, the new Land Cruiser feels better than the old Land Cruiser, but not as good as pretty much anything with a 'modern' monocoque layout. In that I include the Range Rover, the Touareg, Merc's GL, Audi's Q7 and last but by no means least, BMW's glorious-handling X5. Sounds pretty damning, but we're not finished yet.

You see, the United Nations have bought some 12,000 Toyota Land Cruisers over the years, and you'll invariably see one on any Middle-East crisis newscast, storming cheerfully down a desert track or prowling through a village Swiss-cheesed with mortar fire.

They get painted Daz white, hammered to hell and back, and still the UN has an insatiable passion for this full-size SUV from Toyota.

Why? Because they never break; there's a reason why the outback is littered with the carcasses of old Land Rovers and not broken Toyotas.

There's a reason why, every time you trek to some inaccessible part of the world using helicopters and specialist equipment, you will arrive to find a family having a picnic on the tailgate of their 1980s Land Cruiser. It's true. Travel to the Earth's core and there will be a fossilised Land Cruiser down there somewhere. Put some diesel in it, slap on a new battery and it'll probably start.

That reputation is pure gold. It comes from a long history - the first Land Cruiser was in 1954, and it was pretty much the car that Toyota itself was founded on. Luckily, that proud heritage is kept right on inthe new car, because when it comes to out-and-out reliability, off-road ability and manufacturing quality, the Land Cruiser is seriously good.

Somehow, a big Toyota doesn'tmake you flinch when you hear the underside bang and scrape like you do in a Range Rover. There's a real feeling of inevitability to the whole thing - you are in a Land Cruiser,so nothing short of actually getting strafed from space is going to stop you getting there.

Adjustable ride height (AHC - Active Height Control) keeps you off the rocks, sensors at the wheels assess what surface you might be on (mud/sand/slope etc.) and enables adaptive ABS if a wheel spins.

There's even that variable adaptive suspension (AVS) that, as well as attempting to iron out any road-wobble, tries as hard as possible to use the Cruiser's impressive wheel articulation to keep the tyres in contact with the floor and maintain forward progress.

But you wouldn't know - you just sit there and look at the view unfolding. Here, in its more natural element off-road, the Land Cruiser makes infinitely more sense. The car clicks and bumps and grumbles, but never, ever feels like stopping.

It even has pads around your knees should you bump a little too violently. And all you do is sit back, listen to the stereo and fiddle with the heated seats. I tried to get it stuck. Short of driving it off a cliff or into the sea, it was impossible.

As you'd expect for a throat-tightening pricetag, the Cruiser comes equipped with pretty much everything; four-zone climate, 14 airbags (yes, you did read that right), six-disc CD, reversing camera, leather, satnav, cooler box in the centre console, the whole nine yards.

We're only going to get one version in the UK, and that means top-spec and V8 diesel, which is fine, as Toyota is only planning to sell about 500 in the next year to rich people who really don't like what the proles are doing to Land Rover's brand image.

Let's face it, this is the anti-Range Rover Sport - no bling, little drive-by street cred, but the big daddy to those who value getting there over looking good and who couldn't give two hoots about street racing or what the neighbours think. It's a good car. Not for everyone and the last of a dying breed, but still good.

Tom Ford


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