D he Toyota Land Cruiser J15, the flagship of the brand in Germany after the end of sales of the mighty V8, makes its debut in a significantly revised form for the 2018 model year. In addition, the Japanese have redesigned the off-roader, which can look back on almost 70 years of ancestry, quite extensively. The facelift carried out for the 2014 model year, with its extroverted headlights, even die-hard cruiser fans had certain difficulties understanding, has now been put aside.
New look for the 2018 Land Cruiser
Instead of the LED 'bags under the eyes' with the glazing pulled down far, the new headlights are lower, and the grille with a bold chrome rim and solid-looking struts underlines the new look . As a result, the appearance is much more elegant and modern than with the Asian baroque look of the previous model. In addition to the complete renewal of the front, the bonnet with the sheet metal surface lowered in the middle, which, according to Toyota, should improve the front view. The quite radical redesign of the front section also brings a technical increase in length for the Land Cruiser, which relates solely to the body dimensions and does not result in any changes in the interior. The headlights are based on LED technology, depending on the equipment level, the rear lights now have LED light as standard.
The technical basis of the new Land Cruiser corresponds to the model that was completely overhauled in 2016, when the new engine - /transmission combination was introduced, which will also move the new J15: In Western Europe it is exclusively equipped with the 2.8 liter four-cylinder diesel, which releases 177 hp and 450 Newton meters. In view of the curb weight of up to 2.4 tons, depending on the equipment, the driving performance remains at a cruiser level corresponding to the name: Vmax 175 and a sprint time of 12.1 (six-speed manual transmission) or 12.7 (six-speed automatic) seconds .
Noble, renovated interior
Major renovations also took place in the interior. The availability of three interior colors is almost a revolution for the decidedly conservative Toyota conditions, in addition to black and black /brown there will also be a classy beige in the future. In addition, practically the entire front landscape has been redesigned. This includes, among other things, the middle area of the fittings with the multimedia monitor. Here, the air conditioning is still operated in the traditional way with individual controls instead of a graphic submenu. The extremely extensive terrain technology has its own control panel. Here, among other things, the reduction gear, the differential locks, the chassis height and the automatic terrain crawl control can be controlled.
The revised look is completed with the redesigned steering wheel, new bezels for the Optitron instruments, a new one Shift lever as well as the ambient LED lighting with numerous light sources. The Toyota Safety Sense System with camera and radar has a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection, an adaptive cruise control system, a lane departure warning system and a high beam assistant. The 360-degree camera system has been expanded to include a view of the ground for off-road use.
This is how it drives new Land Cruiser
The first contact with the new generation is the meeting with an old friend. The massive, towering and opulent shape of the Toyota flagship arouses confidence in the fact that it can be used immediately to go around the world. However, the environment makes it clear that this is no longer as easy as it was a decade or two ago. We are testing the Land Cruiser in the middle of Namibia. Here the terrain with a surprising variety between sandy desert, scree slopes, tricky passages in mountain formations and swampy wetlands is as if made for the robust off-roader. But the brand new diesel engine introduced in 2016 for Land Cruiser standards is a gourmet when it comes to diesel quality because of the exhaust emissions that are now prescribedIn many parts of Africa it is not (yet) available at the petrol pumps.
The redesign of the dashboard is only noticeable if you call to mind the predecessor. Because actually everything looks like it has always been this way and not different. The usability especially of the individually selectable terrain options such as the central lock or the various driving programs has won, whereby Toyota continues to hide individual switches somewhere in strange places, as is customary for the brand. For example, the button for the new camera perspective on the right behind the steering wheel. The door slams shut, with the typical starter chant that has been known for decades (this is how you can recognize a Toyota off-road vehicle at 100 meters), the large diesel takes on its work and then immediately becomes quiet. h3>
During the overhaul, a revision of the transmission software was obviously not on the plan. The big car slowly sets in motion, Baloo the bear from the 'Jungle Book' inevitably comes to mind: Try it with comfort. Really spontaneous is definitely different, but you could live with that if it weren't for the unnecessarily long and unnecessarily frequent involvement of the torque converter in the transmission. Although the high engine torque is available early and generously at attention, the transmission control relocates unnecessarily, especially in the range below 100 km /h, to a switching logic that presses the four-cylinder engine into high speeds. The torque converter lock-up is opened even with slight movements of the accelerator pedal.
However, the performance is completely okay, whether it is more than twelve or more than 13 seconds until the speedometer needle passes the 100 mark is completely secondary. If you want to free the left lane of the motorway, you will find sufficient alternatives at European SUV manufacturers. The Land Cruiser is about that you arrive, not how fast, that has not changed over the decades. And also that he likes to be a bit of a sailor in curves, especially changing ones - free.
A real off-roader
The real qualities of the Land Cruiser, which is still fitted with a solid ladder frame, come into play when the tarmac ends. Even on more or less paved slopes, it makes it clear with a stoic driving behavior with complete freedom from rattling where it really is at home and where the modern power SUVs should stay outside. The rougher the course, the more fun it seems to give the Grand Cruiser. With very good articulation and fine suspension comfort, it makes kilometer after kilometer. New to the 2018 vintage are some adjustments to the terrain technology. The automatic off-road system, dubbed “Crawl Control”, can now be adjusted to different speeds, but it continues to be a nuisance with its very loud working noise.
The adjustable terrain programs, for example for rock or mud, can only be selected with the terrain reduction activated, which is not really makes sense - especially in deep sand, but also on snow you are better served with the road translation. What is also noticeable: The switchable rear axle differential lock has at least disappeared from the German price list; it is replaced by a less efficient automatic lock.
The Land Cruiser with its strong character has lost none of its fascination in the revised version. As a reliable companion for difficult tasks, it remains a benchmark, in the dynamic road SUV league it does not want to play at all. It is a shame, however, that it is only allowed to tow 3,000 kilos. The comfortable and occasionally illogical automatic has remained with him, whoever relies on more spontaneous reactions should use the manual transmission. However, this is only available in the two equipment variants below.