Toyota Land Cruiser 2.8 D-4D 204 Active 3dr Auto 5 Seats
Off-road? Imperious. On-road? Nautical. See, the newly-stiffened body-on-frame chassis is the real weak point. Over a bumpy back road, the Land Cruiser is constantly fidgeting and fails to iron out any of the surface imperfections. Something we have quite a lot of in the UK. One positive is that the Land Cruiser doesn’t roll very much through a corner. This is down to a clever anti-roll device that uses hydraulic chambers on the front and rear anti-roll bars to keep the suspension in check. It’s not involving though. Despite clever electronics to keep you on the road, the LC remains slow and wayward. Its largely unstoppable mass, slightly divorced ride quality and sloppier-than-school-dinner steering reaction make it feel more like an ocean liner than a large SUV.
There’s independent double wishbone and rear four-link rigid suspension system. That rigid rear axle makes it beneficial when the tarmac runs out, but your lower back won’t thank you when you’re on the black stuff. Instead of the suspension, the cartilage in your spine will be soaking up the secondary bumps as the LC lacks the absorbancy and sophistication of every other car in the class.
But when you’re off-road the Land Cruiser takes on a whole new personality - all of a sudden you’re at the heart of the action. The engine also makes more sense here, because the low-down torque allows you to simply crawl forward and clamber out of tricky situations. Accept that you’re moving at a slow pace and the Land Cruiser’s comfort is just fine, thanks to big seats and long-travel suspension. But if you’re prone to car sickness, beware.
You can’t argue with the numbers as the approach, breakover and departure angles are deeply impressive. The big LC can be driven at a maximum bank angle of 42°, at a maximum forward or reverse pitch angle of 42° and its maximum wading depth is 700mm. Equipped with full-time four-wheel drive, a Torsen limited-slip differential, four modes for any surface the planet throws at it (Mud and Sand, Loose Rock, Mogul and Rock) as well as adjustable ride height on posher models, you should be able to tottle over whatever spread Mother Nature has laid in front of you.
There’s also Crawl Control. Basically, it’s cruise control for off-road. While in four-low, you can twizzle a knob in the roof to set your speed and then it’ll maraud across pretty much anything. It also works as a hill-descent mode, so you get to dictate the speed you come down the mountain, rather than gravity.
Now that the V8 engine has been binned (sorry pseudo Sheikhs of Shropshire), you’ll have to make do with a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel with 174bhp and 332lb ft. When you apply these figures to a 2.1-tonne kerb weight you’re set for a treacle-like 12.7sec 0-62mph and 109mph top speed. But the 38.2mpg is surprisingly achievable.
It’s OK once you’re up to speed on the motorway, but overtaking anything is tedious and if you so much as breathe on the accelerator it sets up an agricultural racket from the engine bay that you just wouldn’t hear in a Land Rover Discovery.
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