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Toyota Land Cruiser 2006 Review

But for full-sized, go-anywhere capability, there is no substitute – size matters.

Whether it's serious off-road work, towing or kid carting, the LandCruiser is up to a wide range of tasks. Toyota has had the 4WD market covered for decades, and only Ford's Territory has made a dent in its medium-sized SUV sales in the past 18 months.

But for full-sized, go-anywhere capability, there is no substitute – size matters.

The new-update Toyota Sahara measures 4890mm long, 1940mm wide, up to 1900mm tall, has about 210mm of ground clearance, weighs around 2500kg and sits on a 2850mm wheelbase.

The Sahara range-topper comes with either a turbodiesel or V8 powerplant, and we're road-testing the latter. It generates 170kW of power at 4800rpm and 410Nm at 3400rpm, which is more than enough grunt for most chores.

While the bent-eight is far from ideal when you're paying $1.20-plus a litre for fuel, it has a nice note and propels the two-tonne-plus off-roader quite nicely.

Working with a five-speed gated-shift automatic, the Sahara quickly becomes an easy vehicle to drive despite its physical bulk but, as Dirty Harry said, a man's got to know his limitations.

Don't hurry it around corners, because even though this new Sahara inherits the Lexus adjustable suspension, it still handles a bit like a boat.

The electronic suspension tidies up the body roll quite a bit but it's still a compromise. But for those of us who grew up rattling teeth with leaf springs, there's an artificial detachment from the road that's a little unsettling.

Long trips on highway bitumen can be achieved quickly and easily, but get off the bitumen, lock the centre differential in and the Cruiser makes plenty of sense.

The Sahara covers rough ground with a confident, almost arrogant, disdain for the irregularities.

The low range is a crawler, offering decent engine braking downhill and easy hill-climbing skills, with the compromise road-rubber the only thing reducing the grip.

The crunch comes when the trip computer is consulted – 20.7 litres/100km is a hefty drink, a thirst which could frighten anyone looking to tow on a regular basis. If life depended on getting back from way down the beaten track, perhaps only the more frugal turbodiesel Cruiser would be a better option.


Luxury feel

THE Sahara's features list has inherited much from its Lexus cousin, so there's no shortage of equipment on board.

The Sahara gets DVD-based satellite navigation, which is run using the touch screen that also controls an MP3-compatible in-dash four-disc CD changer sound system.

The cabin is luxurious, with seats and door inserts trimmed in leather, with a centre console cooler box, woodgrain inserts on the dash, a sunroof and climate control.

The driver gets variable gear ratio steering, stability and traction control, 17in alloy wheels, ABS brakes, front fog lamps, power-adjustable reach-and-rake steering and a suspension system with active height control and adjustable dampers.

Sales slip

LANDCRUISER sales last year were one of Toyota's highlights. The big wagon sold 12,017, which was down from 13,917 units in 2004. But the news wasn't all bad – it was an increase in its share of the declining segment to 63 per cent, with the Nissan Patrol its nearest competitor on 6636 units and 34.8 per cent.

Pricing guides

Based on 55 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

(4X4) 11 Seat 4.2L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN 4X4 $33,880 – 40,370 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser 2006 (4X4) 11 Seat Pricing and Specs
(4X4) 3 Seat 4.2L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN 4X4 $36,520 – 43,450 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser 2006 (4X4) 3 Seat Pricing and Specs
(4X4) 4.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN 4X4 $23,210 – 28,600 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser 2006 (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Muster 4.2L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN 4X4 $15,620 – 20,020 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser 2006 Muster Pricing and Specs
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