Is it possible to make the Toyota Land Cruiser a viable proposition – unless you work for the UN?


If the Land Cruiser wasn’t so expensive then there might be a sound financial reason to buy Toyota’s enormous off-roader. Unfortunately, there is too much competition to make it a viable proposition.

The Land Cruiser just feels completely outclassed by the Land Rover Discovery – in every department. Everything from the interior to the ride quality is loads better in the Disco.

I didn’t have an opportunity to take the Toyota into the dirt but I’d be amazed if it was better than the Land Rover, even with the four proximity cameras to keep you out of trouble.

If there is to be a next generation Land Cruiser then Toyota need to use the Discovery as a benchmark and produce an equally good vehicle.

Until then, it’s always going to come off second best.


While most of people moved on from permed hair and shoulder pads, the Toyota Land Cruiser seems to have got stuck in a timewarp


You have to look long and hard to find anything about the latest Land Cruiser that screams ‘new’. For us, the big Toyota has all the styling cues of something leftover from the 1980s.

While most of people moved on from permed hair and shoulder pads, the Land Cruiser seems to have got stuck in a timewarp. Compare it to an equally capable Land Rover Discovery and the design looks terribly dated.

Still, the sort of people who should be buying a Land Cruiser (stuck in the Outback of Australia perhaps, or up the side of a mountain in the Alps) won’t mind that.

I just get the feeling that had the design team made the Toyota easier on the eye it could be a more enticing piece of kit…


If the Toyota Land Cruiser is good enough for the UN it might fit your mud-plugging lifestyle too


If the Land Cruiser made a name for itself in one walk of life it would be painted white, trundling across dangerous terrain for the United Nations. The very fact the UN chose the Toyota over a Land Rover says it all about the capability of this rugged workhorse.

We’re blessed with plenty of tarmac in the UK  which means that for most of us there is little opportunity to use the Land Cruiser for what it was originally built for.

Our top spec Invincible model wouldn’t be the best option for serious mud-plugging because it is so expensive to buy. Which is why people who need a genuine off-roader with legendary ability and reliability should look at the entry level Land Cruiser.

It may not have the heated leather seats and media system but I promise you it will take you wherever you want to go…

A minor, Clarkson-sized ‘fracas’ with the rear door of a Toyota Land Cruiser


I’m not sure what the BBC’s definition of a ‘fracas’ is with J Clarkson but I certainly spouted some frustration trying to open the rear of the Land Cruiser today.

Nobody had failed to deliver me a hot steak, messed up my hair or even punched me on the nose – I simply couldn’t find a way to release my hound Malin from the enormous boot.

My fracas almost ended with me reaching for the manual, something we never do at Car Couture. Instead, we believe everything on a car should be well-designed and intuitive.

The handle for opening the side-hinged boot is actually in the recess next to the rear number plate. Ingenious but bloody impossible to find.

Just like those hidden rear-door handles on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, it’s a little trick you can play on any unsuspecting passenger – ‘find the door handle’.

At least when it is open, the boot space is huge. And you can access the space by opening the rear screen and dropping items in.

Let’s just not have a fracas every time we borrow a Toyota Land Cruiser, OK?

‘Geographical conditions may apply’ – every Toyota Land Cruiser sale should come with that tag


‘Geographical conditions may apply’ – every Land Cruiser sale should come with that tag because whether or not you buy Toyota’s go-anywhere monster might well depend on the terrain where you drive it.

Just like the Land Rover Defender (reviewed elsewhere on Car Couture), the Land Cruiser is best deployed in places where conventional roads are few and far between.

Which means that in this country, the Toyota’s on-road comforts are sadly lacking. You expect a lot of toys for £55,000 but no amount of cabin upgrades can hide the fact that this is a 4×4 built for rougher parts of the world.

Compared to the Discovery and even the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Toyota feels dated and old fashioned. Take it off Tarmac and it’s a different story. So, where do you intend to drive yours?


The latest Toyota Land Cruiser is big but I can’t say it’s pretty


After a week in Florida, arriving home to a big 4×4 seemed quite normal. However, you soon realise that in the UK, the Land Cruiser is a very big vehicle indeed.

Yesterday we packed off to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and it wasn’t hard finding the Toyota in the car park afterwards. It’s larger than a Range Rover and very easy to spot.

The Land Cruiser looks like a huge SUV, blinged up with LED lights front and rear and a huge chrome grille. I’d be lying if I said it was pretty. The bug-eye headlights might not be to everybody’s taste either.

The interior is a little more appealing, with leather and luxury trim that shouts ‘old school’ rather than Range Rover Evoque avant garde.

The Land Cruiser rather fills the gap between soft SUV and full-on 4×4. Presumably, Toyota thinks this market is still big enough to justify a vehicle like the Land Cruiser…

Wednesday – Living On An Island


John McTear is the fittest sixtysomething I know. Apart from running a remote beef farm on Flinders Island, he works as a tour and walking guide .

Flinders Island is in the Bass Strait, between mainland Australia and Tasmania. It’s a wild, rugged place with an eastern wind that blows corrosive salt right through cars. It’s nothing to see a field of grass burn by the effects of salt in the air.

His set of wheel is, yes, another Toyota Land Cruiser, although he does operate a Subaru around Durris Farm. This one’s a more modern model compared to the average Australian runabout.

Flinders Island is mostly dirt tracks and Toyota rules. McTear wouldn’t drive anything else.

Thursday – Hidden Gem


Rare to find a hidden gem these days but the GT86 is a thrilling example of what car manufacturers can do – when they don’t concentrate solely on luxury features that water down the joy of driving enthusiastically.

The Toyota may be a tad slow when compared to some of the hot hatchbacks out there, and the interior does suffer from some cheap materials. However, I can forgive that when a car returns so much driving pleasure.

A two-year-old GT86 would be a bargain buy in my book. The coupe has a great warranty and provided you can find one with a full service history – and some rubber left on the tyres – it’s great value for money.

At £25,000 a new GT86 is a steal too. Compared to the Nissan 370Z and Audi TT, it’s more exclusive and will give you just as many exciting moments. Plus, being a hidden gem, very few people seem to know what the GT86 is…

Wednesday – Two Cars In One


Don’t live near a Toyota garage but like the idea of a GT86? There is one option – buy a Subaru BRZ. The cars are identical apart from the badge on the bonnet.

In this era of shared platforms and technology, the two manufacturers have teamed up to create a brilliant coupe. If you are in the market for an Audi TT or a Nissan 370Z, the Toyota is the better value option too.

The GT86 can’t compete with them for outright performance as the 2.0-litre boxer engine is gutless by comparison. However, you can beef up the looks by opting for the TRD model, which has the same performance but has wider wheels, extra body trim and a tweaked exhaust.

You can also opt for an automatic gearbox in the standard car, although flicking through the six-speed manual gearbox is the best part of this brilliant handling 2+2.

Tuesday – The Worst Road in Britain?


In a slightly vain attempt to be objective about the GT86, I should point out that it isn’t totally fault-free. I’ve just driven 192-miles to Southampton and back to interview Sir Nigel Shadbolt – an expert in artificial intelligence – and the trip did expose a few weaknesses.

The journey took in my least favourite road across Wiltshire, the A350 down from the M4, past Chippenham and Wiltshire. It’s a nightmare of a drive, slow moving traffic, poor road surfaces and too many traffic lights. The Toyota didn’t like it one bit, crashing over pot holes and delivering huge amount of tyre noise.

Fuel consumption topped out at 31.2mpg, which probably isn’t that bad considering the circumstances but the six-speed manual gearbox is so high revving that pulling away smoothly from a junction demands a great deal of care.

On the way I took the A34 and the GT86 was loud in the cabin. You can’t mask it with music either because the sound system is on the weak side. At least the sat nav and media interface is simple to use.

Otherwise, I still can’t get enough of the Toyota. I forgive it everything just because it puts a smile on my face every day…