Toyota Land Cruiser 2023 long-term test

I began to question that as I stepped into my behemoth of a seven-seater for the first time, having noted the ladder-frame construction through the gaping gap between 23in all-terrain tyre and bulky body as I jumped from the running board into an ivory leather chair; was met by a dash looking like a hi-fi you would find in Oxfam; touched yet more leather and Earth’s smoothest wood trim; and then read a spec sheet alerting me to the presence of a 2.8-litre four-pot that would get just 29mpg. On diesel. At £1.70 per litre…

I have tested many SUVs, but most of those were front-driven crossovers, and even the Land Rovers I’ve driven have had a monocoque at least. The Land Cruiser is something else entirely, I realised as it grumbled into loud life, sat back on its big bum and floated lazily out of Toyota’s fleet garage, my steering inputs are seemingly taken as more approximations than directions.

Get this, though: I was laughing like an idiot. So homogenous and characterless are many cars these days that I loved finding a new way to drive and seeing controls and features that were totally unfamiliar. How’s a button for manual diesel particulate filter cleaning, an off-roading console or a central bin that can function as a fridge, for instance? I would like the touchscreen’s Apple CarPlay to be wireless for my £64,150, but otherwise Invincible spec (sitting above only Active trim) brings everything any countryside dweller could need.

In terms of old-school luxuries, I have said fridge, electric seat adjustment, a parking camera, parking sensors, automatic headlights, tri-zone air conditioning, powered mirrors, a heated and electrically adjustable steering wheel and comfy chairs with ventilation and heating and upholstered in Ortaka Ivory leather (the same colour as the carpet).

As for off-road features, I have Multi-Terrain Select (five off-road driving modes), cameras looking underneath the car, crawl control (a kind of off-road cruise control), a body angle display, a steering angle display, off-road turning assistance, a rear Torsen differential, a locking centre differential and Toyota’s fascinating Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which senses whether you are on or off-road and then hydraulically optimises the anti-roll bars accordingly.

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