The most noticeable change in the Xtreme version was the large 35-inch all-terrain tyres and the flared fenders that accommodate them. Image Credit: Supplied picture

It's difficult to call something that's been delivering the goods consistently over the past 60 years anything other than ‘legendary'. Continuous improvement coupled with a good sense of delivering what consumers expect are factors that generate and maintain a great fan following. In today's market, it pays to do your homework so your brand is high on the wish list of a potential buyer.

Toyota has been doing its homework in terms of the Land Cruiser since 1951 when it was first introduced as the ‘Toyota BJ' designed for military use. In 1955, the BJ's styling and overall character underwent a few changes. Its handling and comfort levels were improved and the vehicle was rebadged as ‘Land Cruiser'.

The Land Cruiser was intended as a workhorse and it had neither the luxury aspects that the modern models have, nor the gargantuan looks of the new series. It was required to be durable and reliable, and it was.

It did not take long for it to carve a niche for itself - it soon became a favourite of desert dwellers and off-roading enthusiasts, earning their respect for being able to go the distance even under demanding conditions. Sure, it had a lot of competition from the Nissan Patrol, but where's the fun if there aren't any worthy rivals?

The 55 Series long wheel base Land Cruiser that was introduced in 1967 complemented the earlier short wheel base versions and was capable of transporting more passengers and cargo. It also had better off-road capabilities. It was with the introduction of the 60 Series in the Eighties that the Land Cruiser became a household name in this region.

Over the years, the Land Cruiser has undergone several changes - from improvements to the power train and off-road capabilities to additions in terms of luxury - but it always seemed like it was primarily designed for the Middle East. The latest 200 series is no different. It is now available with a 5.7-litre V8 engine besides the earlier 4 litre V6 and 4.7 litre V8 engines.

One cool custom drive

The version I got to test drive was a modified VXR-i 5.7 litre V8 Land Cruiser. The modifications were carried out by Iceland-based Arctic Trucks, which specialises in off-road expedition-type modifications. Having a car modified by such a company ensures it is ready to tackle any kind of terrain.

Although this was not a comprehensively modified vehicle like the other monsters that come out of Arctic Trucks' garages, this Xtreme version of the Land Cruiser has all the modifications for off-roading in this region and it is available with these extras direct from the Toyota dealer.

The car had all the basic adjustments necessary to comfortably and confidently take it off road. There were no changes made to the engine given the fact that it's already powerful enough for most kinds of offroading and on-road needs.

The most noticeable change in the Xtreme version was the large 35-inch all-terrain tyres and the flared fenders that accommodate them. This gave the 4x4 a whole new stance, making it an instant head turner. The side steps were changed to match the flared fenders and this added to the new and aggressive look.

A 40mm lift was added to the suspension using heavy-duty Koni shock absorbers. The stock Bump Stops of the suspension were also replaced with large ones for better shock absorption when it ‘bottoms out'.

Although these modifications are few compared to the ones off-road enthusiasts do to their 4x4s, it must be stressed that the changes made to the XTreme version make little difference in the on-road comfort and handling of the Land Cruiser. The overall ride comfort remained the same as the regular Land Cruiser, except that it felt a lot taller owing to the lift and large tyres. I did not notice any major differences in speed either although the large Pro Comp tyres are quite heavy.

A pleasure to drive

The Land Cruiser isn't really made for great sporty handling like most modern road going SUVs; instead it remains true to its niche, which is primarily offroading. On-road comfort in abundance is just the icing on the cake. Therefore, the difference that the modifications make to its handling is insignificant.

Off-road, the Land Cruiser XTreme was a pleasure to drive. Its large tyres when deflated to 15psi, offered more than enough sand flotation to make the 4x4 slide across dunes with ease. The lift helped clear the otherwise low bumpers of the Land Cruiser away from rocky and bushy terrain. It also made a big difference to the approach and departure angles, making it easier and safer to climb up and head down the sand dunes faster than usual.

While off-road, one thing I noticed was the lack of a 35-inch spare tyre. The Land Cruiser's spare tyre provision and space makes it difficult to carry a large spare except if it's inside the car. This also means drivers need to have a tyre repair kit with them at all times, where the original spare tyre cannot replace the large Pro Comps.

Overall, the Land Cruiser VXR-i has all the modern luxury and gadgetry of the Land Cruiser combined with a additional off-road capabilities. It costs Dh338,000 for a full option car with the modifications.


  • Engine: Modified VXR-i 5.7 litre V8
  • Max output: 362 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
  • Max torque: 540 Nm @ 3,200 rpm