From its humble beginnings when Kiichiro Toyoda tried reverse engineering a Bantam GP, to the off-roading legend that it is today, the Toyota Land Cruiser has come a long way. It has proved its grit on every imaginable terrain on earth, from the Arctic plains to the Arabian deserts and the Australian Outback. While there are a handful of other brands that are equally capable in the wilderness, the Land Cruiser’s status as the global benchmark for dependability is unmatched. It has truly earned its ‘King of the desert’ title. Self-assured in the knowledge that there is no dune high enough, no steep craggy enough, or no swamp muddy enough to stop the mighty Land Cruiser in its tracks, Toyota now wants to position it as equally adept at taking on the urban jungle. Enter the 2019 Land Cruiser Grand Touring.
The Grand Touring designation can lead you into believing that this is now the top-spec variant in the Land Cruiser range. But it is not. The good old 5.7 VXR is still firmly in control of that position. So what exactly is this new model? It is a city-oriented trim based on the mid-level GXR grade available with either a 4.0-litre V6 or a 4.6-litre V8 engine. Toyota says it has been designed to make city driving “even more fulfilling than ever before.” Well, if you expect significant mechanical changes, you’re in for some disappointment. The changes are mostly cosmetic, including a redesigned three-bar front grille, smoked headlights, sequential indicators in the front and rear, chrome package that adds sheen all around. The GT also gets special 20in alloy wheels, powered tailgate, integrated roof rails and sunroof as standard. The cabin boasts a number of features, including Optitron speedometer with a 4.2in TFT display, a new 10in infotainment display with Bluetooth connectivity etc. All the other features that are standard in a GXR, such as leather and wood trimmed steering wheel, wood grain interior package, powered seats finished in plush leather, wireless charger, illuminated front and rear door sill scuff plates, cruise control, centre console cooler box, and side curtain airbags are all available in the Grand Touring as well.
The 304 horsepower, 434Nm 4.6-litre V8 produced more than enough power for any imaginable use in an urban setting. The progress is smooth and stately as in a much pricier Range Rover, and the cabin is extremely quiet and insulated with the only occasional intrusion being the distant grunt from the V8. The ride is extremely comfortable, and the GXR GT feels as solid and planted on the road as a vehicle of this size and weight can be.
Obviously, it’s more of a marketing positioning exercise than anything else. However, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the Grand Touring edition as a mere gimmick. In fact, if you are someone looking for a large, comfortable, and powerful seven-seater SUV, and you do not intend to do heavy off-roading with it, the GXR GT is a great option. It lets you enjoy all the convenience and safety features of a high-end Land Cruiser without being saddled with unnecessary off-road biased gear like Multi-terrain system, variable adaptive suspension system, Active height control suspension, or a thirstier 5.7-litre V8. And the pricing is also reasonable, with the GXR Grand Touring 4.0-litre costing Dh249,900 and the GXR Grand Touring 4.6-litre priced at Dh275,900. These are significantly lower than the asking prices of the GXR 5.7-litre and the VXR 5.7-litre, which are Dh299,900 and Dh329,000 respectively.
And being a Land Cruiser, it will always be ready to handle the toughest test you can put it through in case you happen to veer off the beaten track once in a while.