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The Toyota Land Cruiser is a truck that has earned its reputation for carrying people across the harshest of terrain for years on end. In the UAE, it’s called ‘The Pride of the Land’, and since you all know how well it performs off-road, we're going to be doing something a little different and judging it on-road for the eight-seater family SUV it’s evolved to be.
Now, the Land Cruiser you see above looks a little different to other Land Cruisers out there and that’s because it's the Grand Touring Sport trim. Essentially, it is a Land Cruiser for the road, with retro-fitted accessories making it the most expensive Land Cruiser you can currently buy.
This being the VXR model (full-option in Toyota’s secret language) started its life out generously equipped, but clearly someone at the dealer thought there was room for improvement and so this Grand Touring Sport trim has been spruced up with a unique grille, LED sequential indicators, unique lips on the front and rear bumpers, 20-inch wheels, underbody lights, and a chrome exhaust tip.
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Unlike the glittering exterior, the interior of the Toyota Land Cruiser Grand Touring Sport is rather subdued. Dark leather and wood trim covers the cabin and although the quality is exceptional meaning you won’t be hearing any rattles or creaks for years, possibly even decades, it does look and feel quite dated.
Being a three-row eight-seater SUV, there’s plenty of space and comfort features in all three rows. The driver and front-seat passenger receive large, power adjustable seats that come fitted with automatic seat ventilation. Essentially the seat coolers start out in full force to cool you down quickly and then gradually reduce as your body temperature goes down. Those in the sliding and reclining second row, benefit from a four-zone climate control system – meaning they have independent control of the A/C temperature from those in the front – 10.1-inch entertainment screens and wireless headphones. And while the last row is where you’d typically seat children or people you didn’t like very much, the fold-down third-row seats in the Land Cruiser offer ample amount of space, making them ideal to carry three average sized adults.
Before jumping into the features, I want to highlight that this generation of the Land Cruiser was launched in 2007, making it 12 years old at the time of this review. Car years are a lot like dog years and twelve years in the automotive industry is a long, long period of time. What you end up with then is an odd mix. For instance, the Land Cruiser Grand Touring Sport comes with a 9-inch infotainment screen, but the resolution is terrible. It comes with adaptive cruise control but cannot keep up with newer systems out there and bring the car to a complete halt. It comes with lane departure alert but no lane keeping. Essentially, it’s stuff that would’ve been revolutionary twelve years ago but just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Having said that, there are some cool features, like the central cool box (see what I did there ;)) a wireless charger, 14-speaker JBL audio system and a multi-terrain monitor with 4 cameras. But by far the most intriguing feature of all is the remote engine starter. You see, most cars when fitted with a remote engine starter have a dedicated button on the key fob, but not the Land Cruiser. In the Land Cruiser, you must tap the lock button twice and then long press it for 3 seconds. How would you ever know that? Well, it looks like Toyota still wants you to read the manual.
Being the very best that Toyota has to offer, the Land Cruiser Grand Touring Sport comes fitted with the biggest engine in the Land Cruiser line-up. The 5.7-liter V8 that hides under the hood, produces 362 horsepower and 530 Nm of torque. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t, not when compared to its main rival, the Nissan Patrol. The Nissan Patrol, despite being fitted with a smaller engine, produces 38 horsepower and 30 Nm of torque more than the Land Cruiser. What that translates to in everyday driving, is that the Patrol feels light and ready to pounce on the car ahead when the accelerator pedal is pressed but not the Land Cruiser.
The Land Cruiser feels heavy and lethargic, much like a tank. Speaking of tank, the Land Cruiser is fitted with a huge 138-liter fuel tank, which would cost you a whopping 350 Dirhams to fill up with the current petrol price. Sadly, while Toyota claims it will average 8.2km/liter, I struggled to get anything more than 4.4km/liter in the real world and believe me, I was driving it extremely sensibly. Credit where credit’s due, however, I will say that the Land Cruiser is phenomenally insulated. Road and wind noise were minimal and the adaptive variable suspension, which controls stiffness and the height of the vehicle, did a great job of absorbing bumps and imperfections in the road. Ride quality is definitely comparable with premium SUVs that cost twice as much.
In addition to three ride heights: ‘Low’ for loading, ‘Normal’ for regular driving, and ‘High’ for off-road driving, the Land Cruiser Grand Touring Sport is fitted with 5 drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport+) which can be used to increase efficiency or driving engagement. In its arsenal of off-road gear, the Land Cruiser is fitted with two special features 'Crawl Control' and 'Turn Assist', both of which come in handy when breaking away from the tarmac. Crawl Control, which is best described as an off-road cruise control, basically controls the brake and accelerator, leaving only steering for the driver when coming down a steep slope or when attempting to get the car out when stuck in sand. On the other hand, Turn Assist locks the rear wheels when off-road and allows the Land Cruiser to take a sharper turn at slow speeds. Would it be particularly useful in the desert? Not really, but it would be immensely help if you were driving on the mountains of Fujairah or through the tight wadis of Hatta in a car as large as the Land Cruiser.
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At 330,000 Dirhams the Toyota Land Cruiser Grand Touring Sport is not cheap. Is it worth the money? Not really. Is it outdated and in need of a major update? Most certainly. But let’s not forget that the Land Cruiser was built to carry people across the harshest of terrain in absolute comfort, and at that, it simply cannot be faulted.