There is a saying among serious off-roaders that if you want to go anywhere you get a Land Rover, but if you want to get back you take a Toyota Land Cruiser.
That probably simplifies things a bit, in fact a lot, but it made me think behind the wheel of the latest Invincible Auto version of Toyota’s big off-roader series.
Having just tested the 2016 Range Rover costing from £98,000 in my Autobiography trim but with extras setting you back a good bit over £109,000 the Land Cruiser was incredibly good value at under £55,600 including optional metallic paint.
Ok, so you don’t have the image, the presence, the sublime sophistication of the British luxury off-roader but in the Toyota Land Cruiser you have immense understated ability.
The beefy four-cylinder 2.8 litre turbo-diesel engine is a bit slow from getaway and throbs under load but it really pulls well and so long as you remember to move from auto-six to sequential six-speed on the transmission it can be stirred along at a good rate.
The changes are smooth whether going up or down and there’s little hesitation, while the additional console buttons move you from high to low range and lock central differential or permit you to tailor individual terrain modes, while suspension can be set to sport or comfort. Ride height can be selected as well.
All this means the physical characteristics of the Land Cruiser can be carefully tuned to anything under the wheels to get the most out of the tyres’ grip.
Inside the cabin it’s a spacious five-seater but a high step into the leather covered, heated seats or if you want to use the rearmost fold-down pair of seats for children. Once seated you feel well supported and the front pair have a very wide adjustment range and there’s individual controls for heating and rear cabin temperature.
In the back, the boot-floor is high and the shape fairly regular and large, quickly doubling capacity as the rear seats are folded away, raising it from 621 to 1151 litres.
Visibility is good all round with a low waistline and deep windows, sensors and cameras for parking and bright headlights and big wipers for dark and wet days.
A driver may find the simple instruments small, cluttered and the central heating and ventilation display is very tightly packaged over a row of switches. By contrast the infotainment system is large and clear with good displays of functions but the satnav is not particularly intuitive.
Noise levels are mostly down to that hard working four-cylinder engine under load and some road rumbles over coarser tarmac but occasional wind noise intrudes on the motorway.
It covers the ground well and fairly economically and you can amble around town or canter cross country without any effort but in a very easy-going manner.
The last point is particularly significant as the Range Rover had a memorable “gentle giant” character and ability to cover ground in sublime comfort.
The Toyota Landcruiser exudes the same confidence and composure but not the absolute comfort of its rival.
Yet at half the price it’s a compelling alternative which will not leave you stuck and wondering where you go now.
|Toyota Land Cruiser Invincible||Price: £55,595|
|Mechanical: 4cyl 174bhp 2.8 litre turbo-diesel, 6sp automatic 4WD|
|Maximum speed: 109mph||0-62mph: 12.7 sec|
|Fuel consumption: 28.4mpg||CO2 emissions: 194gkm|
|Insurance group: 41A||Warranty: 5yrs/ 100,000 miles|
For: Versatility, room, economy, loadspace, visibility
Against: Performance, engine and road noise.
© Words by Robin Roberts WheelsWithinWales © Images by Bethany Keenan