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Toyota’s well-priced Disco-crusher lacks little but name-appeal
Steve Cropley Autocar
4 November 2009

What is it?

You’re looking at Toyota’s reply to the recent launch of the new Land Rover Discovery 4.

As before, there’s a two-tier range of full-size Toyota offroaders — the Land Cruiser (formerly Colorado) and Land Cruiser V8 (formerly Amazon) but this new edition of the smaller model is now the Disco’s keenest rival, packed with gadgets and with its dynamic ability greatly improved.

It’s the usual all-steel body-on-frame structure the Land Cruiser has always been, siting on the same wheelbase as before but with a body a couple of inches longer.

What’s it like?

In the UK, the Land Cruiser comes in three equipment levels (LC3, LC4 and the full-house LC5 version we tested). All have the same powertrain: a mighty 3.0 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel that puts its 171bhp and 302lb ft of torque through a five-speed automatic and a full-time four-wheel drive system that delivers a 40:60 power split, front to rear, or 50:50 when you lock the centre diff for some serious off-roading.

The main difference between the LC5 and its lesser brothers (besides The price and lots of cabin gadgetry like on-board video systems and cameras that allow the driver to monitor his wheels via the fascia’s central screen) is a new traction-keeping system called Crawl Control, that allows a driver to choose an appropriate feet-off crawling speed between 1km/h and 5km/h, whether the car is going uphill or down, which frees him to concentrate on the steering.

Toyota’s chassis men claim that they’ve worked “100 per cent” on developing both the off-road and on-road abilities of the new Land Cruiser, rather than settling for a mere compromise between the two.

When you drive the machine, you see what they mean, sort of. The new electronic gizmos (lockable centre diff for all models, plus rear diff for the LC5) give the Land Cruiser amazing purchase and steering authority on treacherous-looking climbs and slopes, and wheelspin is rarely a serious issue. Occasionally the car pauses, while its electronics assess the situation. But it always proceeds, and the Crawl Control keeps its progress steadier in really rough going than a human ever could.


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On the road, this is a very large car, but the driver is saved from being overwhelmed by its enormity by good visibility, light and surprisingly accurate steering and quick-acting brakes that have very strong initial bite.

Sitting miles above the road, there’s some well-tamed SUV bounce (along with the usual comparative freedom from pervading road noise) and the electrically adjustable damping keeps body roll under surprising control in corners taken fast.

The engine is effortlessly torquey and the five-speed auto (which you mainly leave to its own devices even in arduous off-roading) is as discreet as a gearbox could be. Interior hardware is beautifully made and fitted, though the textures and surfaces say “durability” louder than “luxury”. There’s a new seven-seat system for the LC4 and LC5 models that folds more compactly than previous models, leaving a flat loading floor.

Should I buy one?

Get your order in now. Toyota thinks the first year or so of sales (1500 units) will be to the faithful, who know the Landcruiser’s extreme trustworthiness and durability of old. They won’t be disappointed.

Like its ancestors, the new Land Cruiser feels — and is — ready for a 200,000-mile life of trouble-free hard work in a way a Disco isn’t quite.

The Toyota’s foibles (a rather vocal engine which isn’t as smooth as Land Rover’s V6; derivative styling that features yet another big, chrome grin) won’t deter dyed-in-the-wool Landcruiser lovers in the slightest. Not should they.

Join the debate


4 November 2009

What an ugly pile of s##t. It looks like a timewarp 1992 Shogun and as desirable as a ssangyong musso.

4 November 2009

[quote doomngloom]What an ugly pile of s##t. It looks like a timewarp 1992 Shogun and as desirable as a ssangyong musso.[/quote] You want desirable buy a porsche, these are made for work, I bet a serious percentage of Landcruisers are bought and used in a commercial capacity.

4 November 2009

Jeep Grand Cherokee and Disco are both better

4 November 2009

[quote fhp11]Jeep Grand Cherokee and Disco are both better[/quote]

Different I think, not necessarily better. And that seems to be what the review says too.

4 November 2009

I think the Cherokee should not be mentioned amongst these two cars. As ugly as the Land Cruiser might be, its abilities and (above all) its reliability make it a vehicle people not caring for badge or looks will seriously think of buying. Its abilities should be similar with the Disco, though the disco has more style inside and out. But again, it comes down to style vs reliability.

5 November 2009

Sorry but what nonsense - the Disco 4 is a better vehicle in everyway. Just drive one and you'll see. The LC drives like a barge on the road, regardless of what this article says - the Disco is much better.

Disco's general refinement and quality of materials is 1st rate - whereas the LC still has those nasty plastics. The new Disco dash is pure class.

And speaking of the engine the 3.0 V6TD is the Disco 4 outclasses the LC in everyway; it's more smooth, 0-60 is much quicker at 9 seconds vs 11.7 for the LC, the torque is far better at 442lb/ft and with 240bhp for the Disco compared to 171bhp for the LC - there is NO competiton.

To be fair the LC has better MPG at 34.9 compared to 30 for the disco 4.

Autocar need to be improve the quality of their reviews.......

5 November 2009

Yacoob - The most biased opionion I have ever read on this site. Why do you think Landcruiser owners are so faithful? Because they are reliable cars and are great at what they do! [quote Sajid Yacoob]LC has better MPG at 34.9 compared to 30 for the disco 4.[/quote] I thought you said they were better in everyway?

5 November 2009

[quote alexthelion]Yacoob - The most biased opionion I have ever read on this site. Why do you think Landcruiser owners are so faithful? Because they are reliable cars and are great at what they do![/quote]

Too true. Have a look at what they drive when attempting to cross the Australian orAfrican deserts. It will be a Toyota or a Mitsubishi. It will not be a Disco. Now I like the new Disco alot but it is going to take years for the reputation for woeful reliability (of the previous models) is erased

5 November 2009

hmm i wonder why the land cruiser out sells the disco and defender in markets where the dependability of your 4x4 counts as the differance bbetween life and death?

i ll take the landcruiser anyday thank you

5 November 2009

I dont think it is fair to compare the disco and landcruiser as they are targeted at differnet markets. Dare I say it but the disco has gone too posh to be a gnarly semi working vehicle like a landcruiser and all the 4x4 trips to Fraser Island in OZ were using japanese vehicles we were in a V8 landcruiser and boy did that go when the driver put his foot down.

Now if you want something for the school run.......the Dis....oops I've been unfair and compared the two vehicles.


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