There will be some people who, as with other areas of the Toyota Land Cruiser’s endeavour, will love the way it delivers its performance. They will spot an honesty in its gruff power delivery, a lack of pretence, a sense that this is a car making no attempt at all to be something that it is not.
It is a view with which we have a certain sympathy. If you live in the Australian outback or the African bush, there can be few sounds more reassuring than that of an engine which may not have multi-cylinder smoothness but which would need a thermonuclear device inserted into its sump to put it off its stride.
In these less challenging climes, however, the Cruiser’s grumbling, growling motor comes up somewhat short of the mark expected of cars in this class. It doesn’t matter whether your measure is qualitative or quantitative; the painful truth is that its European rivals leave it for dead. It lacks both power and smoothness and therefore delivers performance that is broadly unsatisfactory.
But the Cruiser’s case is helped somewhat by its transmission. It’s actually a pleasantly smooth gearbox and the Cruiser’s reserves of torque, coupled with its modest top speed, means the ratio spread actually covers the performance requirements quite well.
Toyota says the unit incorporates artificial intelligence that learns driving styles and adjusts its strategies according to terrain. Our one quibble is that if you’re suddenly in a hurry (a condition best avoided in this car), it can be slow and hesitant in delivering the right ratio at the right time.
Stopping distances may be longer than those of a conventional car, but given the Land Cruiser’s weight it stops adequately in all conditions. The pedal is also excellently weighted and progressive.