Few motoring fans – and even those of a less mechanical bent – will have missed the arrival of the 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser. It had its global reveal in a presentation from the UAE in early June, and the first 50 people in the Emirates who got their advance orders in fastest received their cars in a blaze of fireworks and water fountains in Dubai on Sunday.
It was no surprise the UAE was the place that Toyota decided to make its big unveiling, as this is the country where more than half of all Land Cruisers manufactured are sold these days. Yes, really, it's that many.
And you can see why when you drive it.
There are plenty of more powerful SUVs on the roads, but the Land Cruiser always gives the impression of being, well, rock solid, if that doesn’t sound too cliched. Any vehicle you’d think about taking into a harsh environment, be the territory hot, cold, sodden or laced with peanut butter, would have to be dependable and capable, and the LC300, like its most recent predecessors, doesn’t write any cheques it can’t cash in those departments.
Al Futtaim Toyota organised its inaugural Land Cruiser test drive around some of the Emirates’ most uneven terrain, in Ras Al Khaimah. The tour, with some 15 vehicles travelling in convoy, took in rough roads and rocky inclines, culminating in a swinging tear up Jebel Jais, the country’s highest peak.
The car handled every dip, slip and hanging edge with suitable grace, and it performed as efficiently as any in its class on the hard stuff, too. You get a definite impression of being secure, despite the fact the 2022 model is 200 kilograms lighter than the previous version.
This increased sense of calm is no doubt aided by the newbie’s lowered centre of gravity and suspension upgrade, both of which are a definite help when it comes to minimising the swaying effects that come with cornering.
Jebel Jais was a good test of that. Anyone who has ever driven up that particular peak will know there is plenty of steering to do as you zip up and down.
In fact, Toyota says the LC300 has best-in-class off-road abilities, and you’d be hard pushed to proffer too many arguments on that score.
It’s difficult for manufacturers to achieve any really revolutionary styling in new cars these days. Over the years, different types of vehicles evolved into convenient and logical shapes that suit the purpose they’re designed for. SUVs are no exception.
Toyota has managed to give the new Land Cruiser a shape that is distinctive from its most recent predecessors, though. From the side, the look is more assertive, resembling in some way a particularly rugged, steel toe-capped boot, but in rather more fancy colours (nine, in total) than you might see on the feet of construction workers and others in need of the toughest shoes they can get.
Not, we should hasten to add, that the Land Cruiser has ever adopted a cutesy look in its 70-year history.
The car is functional and comfortable inside, with the posher models having heads-up displays, 360-degree cameras, wireless chargers, 12.3-inch screens and so on. All LC300s have the manufacturer’s Safety Sense package, with the usual driver aids and enough warning beeps to scare you into staying on the straight and narrow.
The car comes in three different variants – EXR, GXR and VXR – with the basic model better equipped than you might expect. You should go for a higher spec model if you’re used to driving around in more recent SUVs, the ones with enough add-ons and gadgets to make your average Rolls-Royce owner look twice.
The two V6 engines are an improvement on what came before, and while you won’t be taking vehicles of this nature drag racing any time soon, the nippiest of the breed will get to 100 kilometres per hour in a very respectable 6.7 seconds.
The only real issue with driving around in a Land Cruiser is one of exclusivity. There are a lot of them on the roads, and that situation shows no sign of abating any time soon. Bear in mind, though, there’s a reason why they’re so popular. They work as you'd want them to and are fit for purpose. And even in these days of automotive innovation, you’d be surprised how many cars still don’t tick either of those boxes.
See Dubai Police take delivery of the new Toyota Land Cruiser 300: