Our round-up of 4x4s prepared for whatever winter can throw at them kicks off with this leggy Toyota Land Cruiser. The 2004-reg motor has done 203,000 miles but it comes direct from its first owner and has a full service history. The timing belts were replaced at 119,000 miles (the official interval is 100,000) and the turbocharger three years ago. It got a new alternator last year.
So it’s worth a look, along with the other five or so 4x4s that experts say you should also check out. The thing is they know an old ’cruiser can be trouble, but to misty-eyed enthusiasts, the model can do no wrong.
If only that were true. For example, we’ve deliberately sought out a 2004-reg because this and earlier J120s – Toyota’s codename for this generation of 2003-09 Landcruiser – avoided the copper injector seal problems that blighted later models.
Corrosion can be an issue at all ages. The sills and floorpan fare worst but even brake lines can rust through. It’s a heavy vehicle so expect the suspension and steering bushes to be showing signs of strain.
Then there’s the combined engine and gearbox radiators, which can break down, allowing their fluids to mix, and on top-spec LC5 models, the possibility of the high-tech heater controls failing. Go for an LC4: it’s much more straightforward.
It all makes pretty grim reading but it’s best you know so you can avoid the worst and buy the best. Do that and you’ll be very pleased with your big ’cruiser. A cavernous cabin, tough ladder-frame chassis, diffs galore (the LC4 has hill-start assist control at the rear instead) and even air suspension on the LC5: it’s all here.