Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara is as luxurious as it is robust, but questions linger around its suitability as an urban commuter
The Toyota Land Cruiser has become an automotive icon renowned for tough mechanicals, unsurpassable reliability and almost unbeatable off-road prowess.
The flagship model, the Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara, has carved a separate niche adding a thick layer of luxury and people-pampering technology along with an almost prestigious cache to the Land Cruiser range.
The diesel version tested is priced at around $120,000 on road and the Land Cruiser 200 Sahara doesn’t have any key direct rivals. Traditionally the Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara has done battle with luxury versions of the Nissan Patrol, but that is now only offered in a petrol V8, which could deter some buyers and then there’s the old Y61 version which is a little old a little redundant.
At the other end of the posh 4×4 spectrum are offerings such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5 but these are predominately road focused SUVs with monocoque chassis. Therefore, there Land Cruiser Sahara is almost a standalone in the marketplace.
What we like:
- Limousine levels of luxury
- Outstanding fit and finish
- Creamy V8 and automatic combo
- Promise of go anywhere ability
Not so much:
- On road behaviour is ponderous
- It’s not cheap
- Rarely likely to venture off-road
- Some visibility issues
Price and Equipment
The Toyota Land Cruiser range starts with the base GX auto from $76,500, the steps up to the GXL, VX and then finally the Sahara. Two engine options are available: a naturally aspirated 4.6 litre petrol V8 from $113,500 and the twin-turbo diesel 4.5 litre V8 as tested from $118,500 plus metallic paint for $550 and on road costs.
Pricey, but the Land Cruiser Sahara is well equipped- there’s everything from dual fuel tanks, a 360 camera, radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, heated and cooled seats, front and rear climate control, LED headlights, DVD entertainment system, satellite navigation and of course a low range gearbox and off-road terrain technology.
Perhaps one of the Land Cruiser’s selling points – along with a majority of SUVs – is its commanding driving position. And from seating in the plush driver’s chair, there’s almost a sense of invincibility. The cabin itself is well-finished, lavishly equipped and there is an authentic feeling of luxury and prestige.
The leather is soft, the seats are very comfortable and seem to be infinitely adjustable. A nice touch is that the climate control can be synched with the front seat heating and cooling – the outermost seats in the middle row are also heated. Rear passengers also get there own climate control panel.
In car entertainment is taken care of by way of Bluetooth audio streaming, digital radio and a DVD system, with screens built into the back of the front seats, which help make long journeys all the more palatable.
Space, as would be expected for a car of this size is more than abundant, and those in the middle row – which will easily accommodate three across – are able to stretch out with limousine-like legroom. Even the third row will be able to accommodate two adults.
Disappointingly, the third row of seats fold upwards and vertically unlike the arrangement in the Prado, where the seats fold into the floor. The arrangement in the Land Cruiser impedes rear visibility and at this price point, the seats should raise and lower at the touch of a button. There is an electrically operated tailgate, though.
The rear cargo area is a maximum of 1276 litres.
Engine and Transmission
The twin-turbo diesel V8 that powers the Land Cruiser Sahara develops 200kW @ 3600rpm and 650Nm @ 1600-2600rpm, figures that are enough to move the Cruiser along surprisingly swiftly. Most importantly, these figures are vital for lugging around caravans, boats and horse floats.
The V8 diesel is also supremely smooth and diesel clatter is almost completely absent from inside the cabin. And there’s also a satisfying V8 growl under acceleration. The six-speed automatic is seamless in its gear changes and kick down is virtually unnoticeable.
Average fuel consumption on a combined cycle during test week was around 13.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
On The Road
The Land Cruiser is a big, heavy, truck-based 4×4. On the city streets, the Cruiserpra’s size and weight is always apparent and under braking, the car’s weight is thrown around the chassis and the steering is vague and woolly, presumably to make rock hopping easier.
Granted, it isn’t all bad news – the ride is well cushioned and is considerably more pleasant than the Prado and the 360 degree cameras – there are cameras mounted at the front, rear and wing mirrors- are useful in negotiating tight spaces as well as avoiding obstacles off-road. There’s also radar cruise control which removes some of the tedium out of long drives, but we did find the system did have difficulty adhering to the chosen preset speed.
Speaking of off-road, the furthest we took our Land Cruiser Sahara off-road was a rutted, rough and washboard gravel track outside a pony club in the Yarra Valley. The reason? Well, we questioned whether if many new Land Cruiser Sahara owners would actually take their new $120,000 luxury off-roader through deep mud and amongst boulders.
The answer was unlikely. However, with a low range gear box, clever suspension and off-road drive settings and 700mm wading depth suggests that the Sahara is more than capable in the rough stuff.
The Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara has dual front, side and curtain airbags are standard, along with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution, front and rear parking sensors and that camera system. There is also blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and a pre-collision warning system.
The Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara is backed by Toyota’s 3 year/100.000 kilometre warranty.
Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara Specs
Make and model: Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara
Engine type: 4461cc, bi-turbo diesel V8
Power: 200kW @ 3600rpm
Torque: 650Nm @ 1600-2600rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Suspension: Front: Independent double wishbone with gas dampers, coil springs and hydro-mechanical semi-active anti-roll bar
Rear: Live axle, trailing arms, coil springs, panhard rod, gas dampers and hydro mechanical semi-active anti-roll bar
Fuel consumption: 9.5 litres (combined)
Dimensions: 4990mm long, 1980mm wide, 1945mm high and 2850mm wheelbase
Steering: Electrically assisted Rack and pinion Country of Origin: Japan
Options: Graphite metallic paint, $550