Driving test of the new Toyota Land Cruiser 250

Driving test of the new Toyota Land Cruiser 250
Driving test of the new Toyota Land Cruiser 250

Toyota Land Cruiser: wasn’t that already around in Roman times?

You can call it the Land Rover or Jeep of Japan: since shortly after the Second World War, the Toyota Land Cruiser has been the way to continue where other SUVs hang their heads and drip off with their tails between their legs, in Japan and all soon also in the rest of the world. It all started with a Willys Jeep captured during WWII, which was handed over to Toyota to make a Japanese counterpart. Despite the initial lack of success, this BJ Series eventually managed to grow into a sturdy tree that later split into three branches. In addition to the original Heavy Duty line, there was the Station Wagon line from 1967 and the Light Duty line since 1985, which was named Prado in most markets.
It is this car that is about to be replaced by what we drive today, the 250 Series. It is so fresh that the naming has not yet been finalized and we are driving one of only four prototypes in Europe. We managed to get our hands on the light brown copy, the only one in the First Edition, which means that it has the round retro headlights associated with that version. All versions after that get rectangular lighting.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Looks quite retro. Is that also the case on the inside?

The first thing you notice when you climb aboard the Land Cruiser is the dashboard. You could call it outdated, outdated, messy and stale. We are absolutely delighted about it. Because although not everything used to be better, dashboards were. Or at least for those who like to find their way quickly, blindly and intuitively without having to take their eyes off the road. Yes, the clocks are digital and yes, there is a wide infotainment screen on the dashboard, but otherwise it is a feast of physical buttons for all primary, secondary and tertiary functions, on the center console, tunnel and on the steering wheel. You sit high on the throne of the kingdom called the bush and thanks to the low side windows you have an excellent view of everything that lies directly around you in terms of challenges and threats. The engine hood is raised on the sides, so that you always know exactly where the car ends. Anyone who climbs and clambers a lot will sometimes get a bruise or abrasion, and this is no different with cars. The Land Cruiser has panels on the sensitive corners that are relatively easy to replace if a nasty rock or tree trunk hits them.

Electric or hybrid?

Driving a brand new Land Cruiser is certainly not something you do every year, but what makes this experience even rarer is that we are on the road with a brand new diesel. And that just shows how much this car is seen as a workhorse by the importer, because although Toyota does make petrol versions, even with hybrid support, we only get the diesel.
Giving an icon a new look is always a perilous undertaking and it is more often than not successful. But you can also choose to give such a model a new look and it is exactly that courage that Toyota shows with the new Land Cruiser. You will look in vain for modern, smooth craziness on this car and if, in about fifty years’ time, someone says that this was the Land Cruiser of the 1910s, few will raise their eyebrows. Is that bad? On the contrary. Fashion dolls stay on the boulevard, real off-road vehicles have better things to do. It’s bad to walk around on pumps.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Is the Land Cruiser still such an off-road vehicle?

We didn’t travel to the north of Scotland just to cover some asphalt miles. On the northeast side of Glen Tanar there is a fairly challenging 4×4 terrain where we can give our Land Cruiser a hard time. With a slight handicap, because we cannot yet operate the center differential on this prototype. Everything else functions properly, including the detachable stabilizer bar, which allows the car to keep four feet on the ground under extreme conditions. And he needs it, because no matter how good all the other technology is, lugging 2.5 tonnes up steep, muddy slopes starts with a lot of grip. And although this is not exactly the first 4×4 with which I have done things that you feel are barely possible, the Land Cruiser still manages to impress me with the ease with which it gives gravity a big middle finger. The diesel growls softly and contentedly, the automatic transmission in two and the transfer case in low and as long as you keep up the crawling pace, the colossus climbs with the ease of a lift. Thanks to the long wheelbase, high construction and short overhang, the Land Cruiser has an approach angle of 31 degrees and a departure angle of 23 degrees, which takes you a long way. It can ford up to 70 cm without choking. Of course, as a true off-road rider you want to do as much as possible yourself, but for cheaters, Crawl Control is a perfect way to impress those around you. It is a kind of cruise control for off-road use. You choose from five tempos (from walking pace to snail’s pace) and can then fully concentrate on steering.

Toyota Land Cruiser

And on asphalt?

The Land Cruiser is also excellent company there. The conventional eight-speed automatic transmission keeps the revs pleasantly low, where the engine is at its best with its 500 Nm between 1,600 and 2,800 rpm. Shifting is almost seamless and the engine sound remains neatly in the background. Of course, the heavy carriage leans a bit more in bends than an average SUV, but it is not disturbing. It actually fits the character of the car and that also applies to the somewhat light, distant steering.
The cars we drive are prototypes. The new Toyota Land Cruiser does not yet have European homologation, so figures regarding performance, consumption and emissions are not yet known. As a result, prices are not yet known, but the Dutch importer hopes to be able to communicate them before the current year is in half. After that, the new Land Cruiser will actually be available, initially only with this diesel in our country. At a later stage it will receive help from a 48V mild hybrid system. Finally, it is good to know that the new Toyota Land Cruiser can handle a maximum of 3,500 braked kilos.

Toyota Land Cruiser

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Driving test Toyota Land Cruiser


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