What are you driving?
The updated Toyota Land Cruiser, one of the few traditional 4x4 workhorses still in production, so it's a car that we're slow to call an SUV. This generation was first launched in 2009, but it has received a makeover for 2018 to keep it fresh. The facelift extends to the exterior and interior as well as to the safety equipment and technology package.
Prices start at €43,950 including VAT, which is for the two-seat, three-door GX Commercial variant. That's available as a five-door vehicle, too, and is the only trim line offered with a manual gearbox. Above that are the Business and Platinum five-seat, five-door models and topping the line-up is the luxurious seven-seat Land Cruiser Passenger. Here we test drive the five-seat Business model, sold exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission and Toyota's well-proven 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. Standard equipment on the Business model includes leather upholstery; electric adjustment, heating and ventilation for the front seats; satnav on a new eight-inch touchscreen; 17-inch alloy wheels and a full-size spare mounted under the car; side steps; keyless entry and start; a leather multi-function steering wheel; rear-view camera; climate control; DAB radio and Bluetooth; and auto lights.
Name its best bits
You can't help but admire the no-nonsense attitude of the Land Cruiser. The nameplate has been around for over 65 years and so far, despite the arrival of more technology and sophistication, Toyota has resisted turning the Land Cruiser into just another wannabe luxury SUV. It's undoubtably a working vehicle first and foremost. Saying all that, this updated model is more refined and comfortable than ever, and the updated technology and interior are welcome.
Speaking of the cabin, it's simply vast. There's stretching room in all directions no matter which of the five seats you're in and plenty of space for three child seats on the back bench as well. Shame the seven-seat variant is so expensive, but in return, there's a ginormous load bay in the five-seat Land Cruiser, which can easily be extended by folding the back seats out of the way.
To get some of our photographs we took the car onto a steep grassy mountainside and for a moment worried about whether it would be able to get back onto the road, but we needn't have fretted, as it took it all in its stride and didn't even need to use some of the more serious off-road settings. There's a reason the Land Cruiser is used throughout the world in some of the harshest environments.
Anything that bugs you?
There are, unsurprisingly, a few compromises to put up with in return for the Land Cruiser's crushing ability, including 'ponderous' on-road dynamics. Thankfully, it's quite comfortable most of the time, though certain types of ruts can send shudders through the whole car. Also, while the engine has plenty of low-down torque that's useful for towing (up to 3,000kg of braked trailer) and going off-road, on the open road it feels quite flat and unresponsive.
Finally, the side-opening tailgate isn't the easiest to use in a tight parking space. Fortunately, the glass section can be opened independently if you just want to pop something small and light into the boot.
And why have you given it this rating?
Put simply, the Toyota Land Cruiser is fit for purpose. Sure, it's more sophisticated than ever before, but there's no denying that this will be bought, for the most part, by people that need it rather than those that fancy how it will look on their driveways or in the golf club car park. There are few genuine rivals that satisfy the same remit.