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.
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.