IS it possible to be socially embarrassed in a Land Cruiser? I ask the question because somebody told me recently they had sold their premium-badged SUV because they felt too self-conscious driving around in it.
It seems ‘the public’ regard people driving an SUV as morally reprehensible – on a par with stealing puppies from small children.
The Land Cruiser is certainly a 4x4. It dwarfs most other cars, and its carbon footprint is more hobnail boot than open-toed sandal. But it doesn’t seem to attract the ire of the new green crusaders.
I think there’s a reason for this and most of it, as is often the way in the UK, comes down to class. The Land Cruiser just doesn’t have enough flash and style to shout how well-off its occupants are, so people don’t get their knickers in a twist about it. A Range Rover Sport is a designer label, while a Land Cruiser is a wellington boot.
But what a wellington boot it is. Go anywhere in the world where travelling by vehicle is an escapade, and Land Cruisers will be the preferred mode of transport.
It is what the word workmanlike was invented for, because these things have a reputation for being able to take anything that is thrown at them. But don’t think the Land Cruiser is just a tin can with an engine strapped to the front. Toyota claims it has made a number of improvements to make it even more refined than ever, while our LC5 model came with enough luxury equipment to embarrass a premium SUV.
The engine is the same 3.0-litre diesel that has been used in the Land Cruiser for some time, although there are minor changes to bring it to Euro IV standards: power is up 7bhp to 171bhp and, more significantly, torque is increased by around 20% to a peak of 302lb-ft, while fuel economy has been marginally improved.
Toyota has also added some extra soundproofing behind the dashboard and an ‘acoustic windscreen’ to block out more noise.
The result is that the Land Cruiser is a slightly more refined tank than before. Even with the vast list of luxurious equipment in the LC5 version, it still feels a very different beast to many of the other SUVs at this price.
Ours came fitted with air suspension, Advanced Vehicle Stability Control, active limited slip differentials and semi-active automatic suspension that allows you to choose four settings between sport and comfort – although the word sport is used only in the sense of something as active as darts.
This car is not built to handle. It feels big and unwieldy, and the suspension can be adjusted between wallowy and choppy. But then, the Land Cruiser is a serious piece of off-road kit, with low-range gearbox, excellent suspension travel, diff lock, downhill and uphill assisting technology and a sturdy body on frame chassis (rather than a car-like monocoque found in many SUVs).
And this is at the heart of the Land Cruiser. As a tool to do a job, and do it better than almost anything else, it is unsurpassed. You buy a Land Cruiser to use, not to pose.
P11D value: £37,815
CO2 emissions (g/km): 238
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 35%
Graduated VED rate: £215
Insurance group: 14
Combined mpg: 31.0
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £14,150/38%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £650
We don’t like:
YOU certainly get an awful lot of car with any of these four SUVs. Only the Audi doesn’t have leather seats and only the Touareg doesn’t have seven of them. The Discovery and Land Cruiser have much more off-road kit, but the Touareg and Q7 are very useful on-road for their size.
Land Cruiser: £37,815
TWO or more tonnes, four-wheel drive, big diesel engines: this is not a recipe for low emissions, although at 238g/km, the Land Cruiser is impressively low. It is still in the top BIK tax bracket though. A 40% taxpayer would pay £442 a month for it.
Land Cruiser: 238g/km/35%
Touareg : 278g/km/35%
WITH huge tyres, all four cars will be a hefty burden on the servicing budget. Even in the cheapest, the Touareg, replacing the tyres over three years/60,000 miles would cost nearly £1,400. Also, the brakes would result in nearly a quarter of overall costs in some cases.
Touareg: 4.84 (pence per mile) £2,904 (60,000 mile total)
Discovery: 4.95 £2,970
Q7: 5.38 £3,228
Land Cruiser: 5.53 £3,318
IF a driver gets near the Toyota’s official combined fuel economy figure of 31.4mpg, they will have a surprisingly efficient SUV. The other three are less impressive, the Touareg the worst with a combined figure of 25.9mpg, potentially costing £1,600 more in fuel than the Toyota.
Land Cruiser: 13.49 (pence per mile) £8,094 (60,000 mile tota)
Discovery: 15.10 £9,060
Q7: 15.38 £9,228
Touareg: 16.15 £9,690
THE four rings on the front of the Q7, and the fact it is the newest, mean it is likely to depreciate markedly less than the other three, and would be worth 49% of its cost new after three years/60,000 miles. The Land Cruiser comes last, costing around £4,000 more than the Audi.
Q7: 32.17 (pence per mile) £19,302 (60,000 mile total)
Touareg: 36.45 £21,870
Discovery: 36.82 £22,092
Land Cruiser: 38.93 £23,358
SUPERB residuals mean the Q7 is the cheapest to run over three years/60,000 miles, being nearly £2,000 cheaper than the next best, the Land Cruiser. The Discovery puts in a disappointing performance, while the Touareg remains expensive to buy and run.
Q7: 52.93 £31,758
Land Cruiser: 56.45 £33,870
Discovery: 56.87 £34,122
Touareg 57.53 £34,518
IT is very desirable, has easily the most stylish badge and actually costs considerably less than the others: the Audi Q7 wins. A caveat to that is the fact that somebody choosing one would have to spend money getting it up to the same spec as some of the others.
The Land Cruiser is a pleasant surprise with good running costs and although it doesn’t win, for a driver needing a 4x4 that is in its element when getting its feet dirty, it would be a very good choice.