The Land Cruiser is fresh and new; here in time for the greater outdoor season. The legendary dune basher that boasts Toyota reliability is keeping pace with time through a brand new 8-speed transmission, a wireless charging pad, a highly practical interior configuration that Toyota calls a ‘life control layout’ and the Toyota Safety Sense P.
Since the first BJ models landed in 1955, Al Futtaim Motors have sold more than 320,000 Toyota Land Cruisers in the UAE. It is more like a page from the history of this land, but the latest edition couldn’t have come early enough. Even though I didn’t think the Land Cruiser itself was crying out loud for change, the formidable SUV’s ardent fans have been. They obviously didn’t want to be left behind by the design boost that archrival Patrol received, especially in this market where sixty years of prizefighting can’t just come to an empty-quarter!
Stance and style
The Land Cruiser has always been imposing. The new version carries forward the stance and the semblance. The favourite stallion of serious off-roaders has spent its gym-time on a protein diet before showing up – it has some impressive bulges to show off, like the sculpted biceps on the bonnet. The moustache that Toyota sported on the new face of the Yaris too has grown thick, and is suitably trimmed for the more aggressive face of the new Land Cruiser.
The chrome-plated sparkle of the grille and the option of 20” alloy wheels add to the ‘macho’ of what has almost become the modern-day equivalent of the Arabian stallion. Agreed, the hood bumps and all that complicated looking braces in the face might look like Land Cruiser is trying too hard, but the hard fact is that even if the overzealous Toyota design team landed a few degrees south, this off-roader is capable enough to find its way back into the hearts of adventurers.
The hood-line is higher but the profile is rather close to what we are used to seeing; it is the rear that has the most pleasant change of all. Those warty lamps are gone and in their place, you will find smooth and polished tail lamps that could easily belong to the derriere of a Lexus.
Comfort, gadgetry and safety
Did I name something luxurious? It could well be the interiors of the Land Cruiser with its genuine leather and metal-texture finish. There is enough space back there even in the third row. To make things convenient for storage, the tailgate is power-operated and the upper part can be opened independently for convenience. The four-zone temperature control assures ample airflow through a total of 28 vents and ducts. Temperature can be controlled for both sides separately even for the rearmost seats.
The high-tech that is essential in a 2016 cabin include a wireless charging system on the centre console for supported mobiles, Google search supported POI navigation and rear entertainment with screen mirroring capabilities, that let you watch videos from a mobile.
The enhanced safety featured in the new Land Cruiser has been ambiguously called the Toyota Safety Sense P, but aren’t we happy that it translates to cutting-edge driver assistance features! A Pre-collision System, which warns the driver of a probable collision, radar cruise control for keeping a safe distance, Lane Departure Alert and Blind Spot Monitor for safer lane keeping and lane changing respectively, Automatic High Beam for excellent night-time visibility and Rear Cross Traffic Alert system to warn you while backing up.
The prowess and the price
If the most important ‘un-changed’ is the engine – the 4.0L V6, 4.6L V8 and 5.7 L V8 – then the most significant change is the eight-speed transmission that graces only the top grade V8. The V6 ride with a 5-speed transmission and the smaller V8 with a 6-speed.
My first drive of the VXR seemed to be all the more smooth and poised for the new eight-speed shift but to gauge the benefits it brings to the ride and scope of the Land Cruiser, we will have to wait for a longer and more lively outing with the Land Cruiser. The Land Cruiser retains its advantage over Nissan Patrol in terms of engine options (Patrol offers only a 5.6 L V8) but the Nissan flagship makes up by offering transmission choices including a manual one. Starting prices for Patrol variants range between 165k and 210k.
Top-spec four-wheel capabilities: For those who have set their eyes on the Mars exploration mission, the 5.7 L VXR come equipped with ‘Turn Assist’ that is integrated with the Crawl Control function (which allows the driver to focus on the steering and not controlling speed at very slow yet slippery crawls), Multi-Terrain Select, Multi-Terrain Monitor (including under-floor view) and Tyre Angle Display. AED 325,000 is further justified by Active Height Control and Adaptive Variable Suspension that further equip the vehicle for off-roading.
The 2016 Land Cruiser will be available in three grades – EXR, GXR and VXR starting at AED 209,000, 229,000 and respectively 249,00 respectively. A full package costs AED 325,000. The new Land Cruiser models can be bought with an optional 30,000 km service package.