crankandpiston welcomes its latest troop-carrying armada, a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser.[Not a valid template]
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Regular readers of crankandpiston will have noticed that, amongst the sporty goodness of our Management Fleet, we normally have one car that stands out more for utilitarian purpose than hooning pedigree. And this, ladies and gentleman, is the newest addition to that long and illustrious line of troop carrying, load-lugging, camera car workhorses: our new Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
In many ways, our requirement for at least one practical and spacious SUV on fast fleet – taking priority over a flashy sports car alternative – is similar to the painful decision made every day by folk in the real world who have family requirements. Sure, you want that two-seater in the driveway but strapping the kids to a luggage rack is still illegal in many countries. It also creates drag.
Our crankandpiston family requirements are just as pertinent. We need a vehicle that can carry troops into action, haul gear to the front line and house turret and rear-mounted photographers firing volleys of shots from their Canons. A McLaren MP4-12C just doesn’t fit the bill. At all.
When Lexus pulled the rug from under our feet – by prematurely selling the awesome LX 570 before its allotted time with us – we were in a world of hurt and up a wadi without an SUV. Fortunately, parent company Toyota stepped in to fill the void with the Land Cruiser Prado. As it has only just arrived, we haven’t had the opportunity to challenge it just yet with our peculiar requirements. First impressions, however, are a little bit of a mixed bag.
The interior is spacious with proper seating for five fully-grown adults. It also has a third row of fold-in-to-floor seating for an extra two bodies of not quite fully-grown stature. Its troop-carrying ability and equipment-lugging prowess therefore meets with our full approval. We also won’t be slumming it in economy class either as it is quite a high-specced example with leather seats. It also has that all important, on-board refrigerator (situated between the driver and front passenger seating) for keeping our beverages nicely chilled.
Visually, the Land Cruiser Prado sits noticeably high when unladen and it wouldn’t be our first choice of car to tackle hard-cornering track day duty at the Dubai Autodrome. Conversely, its soft, absorbing suspension is perfect for our photography needs as it soaks up all but the biggest ruts in the road which helps with steady hand photography.
I have noticed something that might be a slight problem, however. Unlike the Lexus LX 570, the Land Cruiser Prado has a side-hinged rear door. Perhaps not an issue for normal SUV usage, but with the door open and a photographer lying down in the back, this has the potential to swing shut and lamp said photographer on the noggin. We are going to have to MacGyver a fix for that or risk bruised heads in our quest for automotive pictorial perfection.
|4.0-litre / six-cylinder / 24 Valve / DOHC / Dual VVT-i
|267bhp @ 5600rpm
|281lb ft @ 4400rpm
|Four-link type with Lateral Rod
|17-inch front and rear
|265/65 R17 front and rear