The latest Toyota Land Cruiser in Dubai. Victor Besa for The National
The latest Toyota Land Cruiser in Dubai. Victor Besa for The National

Road test: 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser



Automotive spin doctors tend to regularly punctuate their sales patter with the dreaded word “iconic”. But every now and then, it genuinely applies to the vehicle being referred to, and one could argue the Toyota Land Cruiser is a case in point – especially in our region. Is there any other vehicle that looks as much a part of the local streetscape or sandscape? I think not.

The rugged all-terrainer has a UAE legacy dating back to 1955 (that’s when the first shipment of 20 Series models landed here), and its robustness and go-­anywhere capability of the Land Cruiser earned it the sobriquet Ship of the Desert.

As proof of the Land Cruiser’s durability and dune-taming prowess, you only need to see how many desert-­safari operators use them as their default vehicle. They can endure the rigours of daily dune-bashing without the need for regular repairs.

It’s very much a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when it comes to the Land Cruiser’s evolution, too, and it has faithfully stuck with the rugged (but heavy) body-on-frame recipe, even as rivals such as the Nissan Patrol, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Range Rover, Land Rover Discovery and all the ­German SUVs (barring the Mercedes G-Wagen) have defected to lighter, more car-like monocoque-­chassis formats.

The latest LC upgrade hasn’t altered the basic formula, but in the case of the range-topping VXR model I’m testing, it has added a new eight-speed auto, 20-inch rims and a “Safety Sense P” system that includes lane-­departure warning and blind-spot alert, as well as radar cruise control, and pedestrian detection and avoidance tech. There’s also a multi-­terrain monitor that uses a camera at each of the four wheels to help you accurately position the vehicle in tight off-road ­situations.

Visually, you will notice the thrusting grille is festooned in a sea of chrome, and it’s flanked by new headlight clusters that endow it with a distinctly American-­esque look. I’m reminded of the Dodge Durango and various GMC offerings. The interior is far plusher than Land Cruisers of yore, and its cabin isn’t too far short of the Lexus LX 570 in the luxury/bells-and-whistles stakes – barring the hard plastic disguised as faux metal.

On the road, the Land ­Cruiser cruises serenely at 140kph and is impressively quiet and refined. The 5.7L V8 ekes out a beefy 362hp and 530Nm, but performance is dulled by the hulking Toyota’s almost-2.7-tonne girth, so acceleration is respectable, rather than sparkling. Its bulk and towering stance (it’s 1,905 millimetres tall) also mean it doesn’t like sharp inputs via the brakes or steering, because this causes it to pitch and roll alarmingly. It’s no match for the Range Rover or ­German luxury SUV brigade in terms of agility or dynamic tautness at speed.

But the tables are turned in off-road situations, because the Land Cruiser can waltz across obstacles that would bring many of the aforementioned rivals to a grinding halt (possibly with one or two bits of bodywork missing) in soft sand or across large rocks.

Its excellence across the rough stuff is largely down to ample ground clearance and the wheel articulation made possible by the solid rear axle and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. The Land Cruiser remains a formidable off-roader, yet it can still accommodate seven occupants in comfort.

The VXR is no bargain-basement special – its price tag puts it in the same ballpark as the premium Euro SUV contenders – but if you actually plan on going off-road on terrain more arduous than gravel tracks on a regular basis, the venerable Toyota still has few equals. It will take everything you can dish out and still not miss a beat.

motoring@thenational.ae

FIXTURES

Thu Mar 15 – West Indies v Afghanistan, UAE v Scotland
Fri Mar 16 – Ireland v Zimbabwe
Sun Mar 18 – Ireland v Scotland
Mon Mar 19 – West Indies v Zimbabwe
Tue Mar 20 – UAE v Afghanistan
Wed Mar 21 – West Indies v Scotland
Thu Mar 22 – UAE v Zimbabwe
Fri Mar 23 – Ireland v Afghanistan

The top two teams qualify for the World Cup

Classification matches 
The top-placed side out of Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong or Nepal will be granted one-day international status. UAE and Scotland have already won ODI status, having qualified for the Super Six.

Thu Mar 15 – Netherlands v Hong Kong, PNG v Nepal
Sat Mar 17 – 7th-8th place playoff, 9th-10th place play-off

UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
WORLD CUP FINAL

England v South Africa

Yokohama International Stadium, Tokyo

Saturday, kick-off 1pm (UAE)

BELGIUM SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels

Defenders: Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Leander Dendoncker, Zeno Debast, Arthur Theate, Wout Faes

Midfielders: Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel, Youri Tielemans, Amadou Onana, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thorgan Hazard, Timothy Castagne, Thomas Meunier

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Loïs Openda, Charles De Ketelaere, Eden Hazard, Jeremy Doku, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard

MATCH INFO

Inter Milan v Juventus
Saturday, 10.45pm (UAE)
Watch the match on BeIN Sports

The Uefa Awards winners

Uefa Men's Player of the Year: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Uefa Women's Player of the Year: Lucy Bronze (Lyon)

Best players of the 2018/19 Uefa Champions League

Goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool)

Defender: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Midfielder: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax)

Forward: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Uefa President's Award: Eric Cantona

Arctic Monkeys

Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino (Domino) 

 

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Zodi & Tehu: Princes Of The Desert

Director: Eric Barbier

Starring: Youssef Hajdi, Nadia Benzakour, Yasser Drief

Rating: 4/5

Results

5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,000mm, Winners: Mumayaza, Fabrice Veron (jockey), Eric Lemartinel (trainer)

5.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 2,200m, Winners: Sharkh, Pat Cosgrave, Helal Al Alawi

6pm: The President’s Cup Prep - Conditions (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 2,200m, Winner: Somoud, Richard Mullen, Jean de Roualle

6.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh90,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: Harrab, Ryan Curatolo, Jean de Roualle

7pm: Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold Cup - Prestige (PA) Dh125,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: Hameem, Adrie de Vries, Abdallah Al Hammadi

7.30pm: Al Ruwais – Group 3 (PA) Dh300,000 (T) 1,200m, Winner: AF Alwajel, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

8pm: Maiden (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m, Winner: Nibras Passion, Bernardo Pinheiro, Ismail Mohammed

Ziina users can donate to relief efforts in Beirut

Ziina users will be able to use the app to help relief efforts in Beirut, which has been left reeling after an August blast caused an estimated $15 billion in damage and left thousands homeless. Ziina has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise money for the Lebanese capital, co-founder Faisal Toukan says. “As of October 1, the UNHCR has the first certified badge on Ziina and is automatically part of user's top friends' list during this campaign. Users can now donate any amount to the Beirut relief with two clicks. The money raised will go towards rebuilding houses for the families that were impacted by the explosion.”

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Stree

Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5

Match info

Karnataka Tuskers 110-3

J Charles 35, M Pretorius 1-19, Z Khan 0-16

Deccan Gladiators 111-5 in 8.3 overs

K Pollard 45*, S Zadran 2-18

Gulf Under 19s final

Dubai College A 50-12 Dubai College B

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

The specs

Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cyl turbo

Power: 374hp at 5,500-6,500rpm

Torque: 500Nm from 1,900-5,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.5L/100km

Price: from Dh285,000

On sale: from January 2022

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

EXPATS

Director: Lulu Wang

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Sarayu Blue, Ji-young Yoo, Brian Tee, Jack Huston

Rating: 4/5

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

THE SPECS

Engine: 4.4-litre V8

Transmission: Automatic

Power: 530bhp 

Torque: 750Nm 

Price: Dh535,000

On sale: Now

Company profile

Name: JustClean

Based: Dubai with offices in other GCC countries

Launch year: 2016

Number of employees: 160+ with 21 nationalities in eight cities

Sector:
online laundry and cleaning services

Funding: $30m from Kuwait-based Faith Capital Holding and Gulf Investment Corporation

SHAITTAN

Director: Vikas Bahl
Starring: Ajay Devgn, R. Madhavan, Jyothika, Janaki Bodiwala
Rating: 3/5

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

Profile of Hala Insurance

Date Started: September 2018

Founders: Walid and Karim Dib

Based: Abu Dhabi

Employees: Nine

Amount raised: $1.2 million

Funders: Oman Technology Fund, AB Accelerator, 500 Startups, private backers