Life begins at 60 for Toyota's new Cruiser
The Toyota Land Cruiser is synonymous with what we still call "the good times".
Though status symbol SUVs such as the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport were de rigueur in nouveau riche land, the Land Cruiser continued to be the vehicle of choice for the serious developer with things to tow and building sites to negotiate.
We all know what happened next, and the property market implosion appeared to take the majority of large SUV buyers with it.
Sales figures can be boring, but I think it's worth pointing out that Toyota sold a startling 78 per cent fewer Land Cruisers in 2009 than it did in 2008. It sold about 67 per cent fewer again last year.
Now, and not a moment too soon, there's a brand new version on sale in Ireland.
It's good to see Toyota with a competitive offering once more -- especially given the close proximity of the latest Land Rover Discovery in terms of price.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Starting price: €61,995
Tax band: F
Fuel consumption: 8.1
Power output: 188bhp
Rivals: Land Rover
Discovery, Mitsubishi Pajero
We like: Improved refinement,
We don't like: Still an
The big news with the Land Cruiser is its much more efficient 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine. Power and torque (you use the latter for towing, basically) are both up, but emissions are just 213g/km, putting the big SUV into Band F with annual road tax of €1,050.
Toyota is also more generous with the standard equipment, including seven airbags, cruise control and Bluetooth.
Perhaps just as importantly, the Land Cruiser retains its rugged, unbreakable feel, while being more comfortable and refined than before.
Commercial models will account for a good chunk of sales as ever, but the passenger versions start at €61,995 for the short wheelbase GX model. There's a long wheelbase variant too, and the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes.
While the new Land Cruiser undoubtedly improves on the model it replaces, it's still not really comparable to a conventional car -- not that its buyers seem to mind. They'll be back in numbers soon enough. In its 60 years, the Land Cruiser has seen it all, and will again.
Sunday Independent Supplement