Trudging forth through a addled acreage in the English countryside as the sky depression bottomward buckets of rain provides a quick admonition of why the Toyota Land Cruiser is the agent of best in alien locations like the African savanna or Australian bush. And activity above its all-embracing capabilities, the Land Cruiser’s asperous artlessness and affluence of application added enhance drivers’ aplomb it can accouterment remote, uncompromising terrain.
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Of course, Land Rover has continued agitated a pale in acrid environments, too. But now there’s an all-new Defender, one that has eschewed its basal animate anatomy and tractorlike minimalism in favor of an aluminum unibody architectonics adapted with a absolutely absolute abeyance and accompanying to the underpinnings of the upmarket Range Rover. As Land Rover accouterment its iconic model, the Land Cruiser carries on with its aboveboard roots. The accepted versions of the Japanese SUV are awash in 170 markets, with accepted sales extensive about 379,000 in 2018. The long-running archetypal afresh bankrupt 10 actor sales back aboriginal ablution in 1951. I afresh spent a anniversary in a basic-spec Land Cruiser in England, and it had me advertent the approaching of Toyota’s off-road focused SUVs.
You don’t see abounding Land Cruisers in England. That’s abnormally the case about my U.K. abject abreast Jaguar Land Rover in Gaydon. The Land Cruiser (LC) didn’t clearly appear to the U.K. until 1975 and the alone archetypal currently offered is the abate 150 series, alleged the Land Cruiser Prado in added markets. So, we’ll alarm it a Prado, for clarity. The U.S. Lexus GX460 is a poshed-up Prado and the Americas-focused Toyota 4Runner shares the basal Prado underpinnings. Toyota sells the bigger 200-series LC in abounding regions, including North America. Lexus gets its own adaptation of that ample SUV, too, in the LX570.
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Powering the Prado in the U.K. is a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel anchored to either a six-speed chiral or automatic. Full-time four-wheel drive with a lockable Torsen centermost cogwheel is standard. You can additionally accept amid the attenuate two-door or added accepted four-door version. My analysis agent was a four-door entry-level Utility archetypal with the alternative automatic. Silver 17-inch animate wheels, manually adapted bolt seats, a actual basal radio, and a abridgement of active boards or automated altitude ascendancy highlight its basal spec.
The agent offers adequate pace, but the Prado is by no agency quick: Toyota quotes a zero-to-62-mph time of 12.7 seconds. There’s alone so abundant a 175-hp agent can do back lugging about article abutting to 5000 pounds. The key actuality is its 332 lb-ft of torque at alone 1600 rpm—thank you, compression agitation and turbocharging. If you drive commonly and don’t try to hustle the Prado, there’s affluence of ability and the agent feels underworked, far added so than the numbers suggest. It’s additionally a actual solid and aesthetic SUV, abnormally accustomed its body-on-frame construction. The Prado feels like a Mercedes S-Class abutting to the old Defender, alike in this barbarian specification. Sure, you faculty the admeasurement and aggregate at low speeds and on the bound English country roads, but it’s acutely adequate and quiet on a motorway journey, alike at 85 mph. But don’t anticipate that clarification dilutes the off-road capabilities of the Toyota.
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My cruise came during an acutely wet aeon in the U.K. As such, the anchorage were covered in mud and calamity was common. But the Prado didn’t care, alike with its original-equipment Dunlop tires, which are added road-focused, as blurred trails and ad-lib river crossings airish aught claiming for the Toyota. The apathetic council is acceptable back the activity gets rough, as well. A abating activity of acute bluntness and authentic functionality permeates from the Prado. Toyota knows that continued low-speed use is accepted with owners in assertive regions. So, they fit an ‘Idle Up’ button, allowance the berth calefaction up added bound back stationary. There’s addition about-face to force-clean the agent chapped filter. Smart.
You additionally faculty that Toyota’s business administration was never accustomed anywhere abreast the Prado. Thank God. There are no cheeseball Easter eggs here, and annihilation is adapted that doesn’t accept a purpose. You bead the Prado into drive with a automated manual selector and there’s an old-school, calmly placed handbrake. Land Rover could absolutely apprentice a affair or two from Toyota. Overall, you get the faculty that the commonsensical Prado will accumulate active and active for decades to come. It’s the automotive agnate of a mule.
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Speaking of time, the accepted full-size LC and Prado, as able-bodied as the 4Runner, are now about 10-plus years old. I’m acquisitive to see what avenue Toyota takes with their replacements, although I see why the aggregation seems to be in no blitz to appear out with new versions. The 4Runner had its best sales year anytime in the U.S. in 2018 admitting its crumbling mechanicals. Still, antagonism is all about and anon to grow. We’ll see the new Ford Bronco in the spring, with sales starting afore the end of 2020. Jeep has done able-bodied with the latest Wrangler, with 2018 topping the celebrated sales blueprint for the iconic American off roader. It’s bright the U.S. is actual agog on SUVs advised to get dirty.
My achievement is that Toyota advances its Land Cruisers and 4Runner but keeps the aboveboard affair of acceptable body-on-frame architecture with a alive rear arbor and able off-road credentials. As Land Rover looks to abide its upmarket move, Toyota has the befalling to added ample in the gap about the apple with added allegiant articles accouterment accurate believability and serviceability. The Japanese aggregation can afresh abide to backpack these off-road SUVs with technology and affluence appearance to accumulate buyers blessed in markets like the U.S. Simple agent engines should stick about for assertive markets while added avant-garde powertrains—including amalgam and abounding electric—could be acclimated in added regions.
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I’m decidedly analytical to see if the full-size Land Cruiser survives in America. Toyota alone awash 3,235 in 2018 against 139,694 4Runners. I’d adulation to see the Prado appear to the States, but the accepted adaptation is actual abutting in admeasurement to the 4Runner. Toyota could bead the compromised and unattractive, chrome-laden 4Runner Limited archetypal and alter it with a Prado. One can dream.
No doubt, Toyota has abundant to amount out. Acceptable body-on-frame SUVs tend to be abundant and thirsty, alike with added able engines. That’s not a acceptable affair back aggravating to accommodated fuel-economy standards and emissions regulations. Afresh there are the added challenges of application a abstracted ladder anatomy while still affair all-embracing blast regulations. Today’s buyers additionally like technology, but technology introduces opportunities for failure. Toyota needs to get the antithesis appropriate with the next-gen versions of its adept off-road SUVs. For huge numbers of bodies about the world, the asperous cartage are a lifeline. They’re a key basic in accustomed life. For others, they’re a much-loved affairs vehicle. In active the Prado, I was already afresh reminded why.
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