Last week, when Al Futtaim Motors (exclusive distributors of Toyota in the UAE) led the new “king of the off-road” to its first public appearance in the region, it came across as a mid-cycle design uplift for most part but for three major technological aspects, which justifies Toyota’s attempt to call the 2012 edition “all-new”.
My only encounter with the Land Cruiser was years ago, during an Oman cross-country escapade. The legendary off-roader had come across as a formidable transporter of people and heavy stuff on challenging terrains, smooth to drive along but just as easy to manage as a road roller when it came to some snappy moves. But the giant did manage to take us on to places where most men or machines fear to tread. It was like almost a part of the terrain itself.
Well, some things don’t change but some things do, and in the 2012 Land Cruiser there are many things that have changed for the better, like the almost luxurious interiors. And some that are totally new, like the Turn Assist System that enables the mammoth to stomp around and almost make a U-turn on its feet, in figurative terms!
The Al Futtaim Motors event was attended by Sadayoshi Koyari, Chief Engineer, Product Planning Group of Toyota, which shows the Japanese brand’s confidence and pride in the innovations that mark the new Land Cruiser. Commenting on the longstanding bond between the adventurers of the land and the Land Cruiser, Simon Frith, Managing Director, Al Futtaim Motors said, “The Land Cruiser has an enduring relationship with the people of this nation. It is actually “The Pride of the Land”. Emiratis have even given the Land Cruiser pick- up a special name Abu Shanab.
The new Land Cruiser is a vehicle that continues its 60 year history of quality, durability and reliability while adding multiple new technologies and features. With sharper design inside and out and advanced handling technologies the car promises exceptional off-road capabilities in the utmost comfort.
Rugged exterior with a modern taste
The exterior has undergone a minor makeover that helps retain the rugged good looks of the Cruiser but adds a premium feel and soft touch of class to it. The front bumper has been redesigned with enlarged overhangs for a powerful visage that is complemented in the finely crafted radiator grille with a much rounder surface. Modifications have happened in the headlamps, wider wheel flares and even the lerger 18” aluminium wheels. The 2012 Land Cruiser also comes with the option of a swing back door, with the aim of enhancing accessibility to the 3rd row seats. Changes in the cabin are aimed at heightening the feeling of luxury and class with even air-conditioned seats. Three new colours have been added: White, Attitude Black and Light Blue.
The revolutionary Turn Assist System, crawl control and multi-terrain mode
With the innovations in the 2012 models, Toyota just made it easier for the Land Cruiser to do what it does best – tackle tough terrains.
The newly introduced Turn Assist works in conjunction with the Crawl Control function. The Turn Assist System enhances turning ability and minimizes the driver’s effort in tight U-turns where K-turns are necessary, by automatically applying the brake on the inside rear wheel. The complimenting 5 mode Multi-terrain select (MTS) that replaces the current 3 mode system and Multi-terrain Monitor is used in conjunction with the Turn Assist to help drivers observe their surrounds through front, side and rear cameras with warning messages.
I guess Al Futtaim’s drive team for the day had carefully chosen dunes that match the size of the off-roader itself. The ride down fearsome dunes and up undulating terrain went pretty light on our stomachs and spinal columns, perhaps due to the revamped suspension of the new Land Cruiser which features a newly designed independent double wishbone type front suspension. Uprated coil springs all round have been inserted to dramatically improve handling both on and off road whilst maintaining riding comfort and tenacity.
Safety and comfort
For the driver and passenger peace-of-mind the new Land Cruiser now has 10 standards airbags: driver and front passenger dual-stage advanced airbags; front- and second-row seat-mounted side airbags; and three-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags with a roll-sensing cutoff switch and new to the 2012 year model, driver and front passenger knee airbags. The vehicle has a back-and-clearance sonar that notifies the driver of obstacles around the vehicle.
Besides current industry standards like keyless entry, USB/AUX/Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control, the Land Cruiser’s luggage compartment has a AC 220 V accessory socket to power household electronics.
Power and Pricing options
The 2012 Land Cruiser will be available in UAE with the choice of 5-speed Automatic or 6-speed Manual on improved 4.0L Engine with 271 HP in Dual VVT-i, and 6 speed Automatic transmission coming with a newly developed 4.6L V8 Engine with 304 HP in Dual VVT-I, and also in 5.7L V8 Engine. The all new 2012 Land Cruiser will be available across all Al-Futtaim Motors Toyota showrooms in three different grades: EXR, GXR, VXR and with prices ranging from AED 195,000, to AED 305,000.
Picture courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors/Sudeep Koshy
Launch and First Drive location: Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club and nearby desert