Anyone looking for a hard-working, all-wheel drive van, should consider Toyota’s Land Cruiser Commercial, says Dan Gilkes.
Since the demise of the trusty Land Rover Defender, Mitsubishi has had the 4×4 car-derived van market pretty much to itself, with the Shogun and Outlander Commercials. You can buy a Discovery Commercial if you have deep pockets, while SsangYong has offered Korando LCVs in the past, but the Toyota joins a fairly select group.
Launched at the Commercial Vehicle Show, the Land Cruiser Commercial Utility is available in both short-wheelbase three-door and long-wheelbase, five-door variants. Both follow the normal route of removing the rear seats from an SUV, covering the rear side windows and installing a flat load floor behind the driver.
This long-wheelbase model has a half height steel bulkhead with a steel mesh upper section, half of which can be folded back to allow the transport of longer loads above the passenger seat. Though providing plenty of load area, Toyota has stopped well short of the front seat backs, providing a large hidden storage area behind the front seats but in front of the bulkhead.
Unlike the shorter three-door, the five-door model has the added bonus of side door access, plus you can simply lift the rear glass, if there is not enough room to swing out the huge rear door. In total you get more than 2m3 of load volume and a reasonable 705kg payload.
While Mitsubishi’s Shogun Sport Commercial will be offered in very high trim, reflecting the fact that sales of the previous Shogun Commercial weighed heavily in favour of the range-topping Barbarian model, Toyota has chosen a different path. The Land Cruiser is currently only offered in a hard-wearing utility trim, even extending to sensible 17” steel wheels.
That’s not to say that the driver and passenger are hard done by in the cab. The Land Cruiser comes with electric windows and mirrors, a host of airbags, a tyre pressure warning system, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and automatic lights. The infotainment is rather comically old-fashioned however.
There has been no scrimping on the driveline. The Land Cruiser uses a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel, rather than the 2.4-litre motor in the Hilux. This provides a healthy 175bhp and 420Nm of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and the truck has full-time four-wheel drive, with a limited slip differential and Toyota’s Active Traction Control system.
Off-road it should be pretty much unstoppable, while there is little compromise when driving on the road. It initially feels a bit nautical, rolling in the corners, but the permanent four-wheel drive ensures secure handling and that 2.8-litre engine delivers a surprising turn of speed when requested.
Toyota is already well on the way to fulfilling its initially fairly conservative sales targets for the Land Cruiser Commercial. Don’t be surprised to see higher trim levels at some time in the future though.
For those that require genuine off-road ability, but don’t want to suffer between work sites, the Land Cruiser offers a compelling package.