Toyota Land Cruiser VX Limited 2012 Review

Toyota Land Cruiser VX Limited 2012 Review

Toyota’s flagship SUV packs a formidable list of features, but is it taking the traditional off-roader just too far? Starting in 1951 (which makes it the longest running Toyota model) out of a military jeep project, the 40 Series arrived in 1960. Square and coarse, yet revered off road, it sold well.

The Land Cruiser didn’t start to get softened edges until the 80 Series in 1989. More and more interior comforts were added, but the drivetrain could still take a beating.

Think about all those times you’ve seen

news footage of aid trucks in some arid wilderness. If it’s not a Land Rover, it’s most likely going to be a Toyota Land Cruiser. With the 200 Series Toyota has crammed in more electronics, more comfort and more weight. It tips the scales at a substantial 2750kg (with the gross vehicle weight up to 3350kg). Will it still handle the rough stuff, from muddy swamps to rocky plateaus?

There are certainly enough electronics to help it. Even though it’s super plush on the inside it has some off-road smarts that most SUVs lack. The first is the crawl mode in which one of five settings that cater to mud, sand, gravel, loose rock and hard rock. This maintains a constant low speed to let you concentrate on steering through tricky terrain. Part of this feature is multi-terrain ABS, which is joined by Active Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Brake Assist. Nine airbags form part of the last resort should you misjudge something.

There’s a full-time four-wheel drive system that delivers variable torque to the front (up to 60%) and rear (up to 70%) through a Torsen limited slip differential. A low range option is included, too.

Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) features hydraulic cylinders that adjust the front and rear stabilizer bars to help suppress body roll without compromising on wheel articulation that’s useful off-road. Body roll is still quite substantial in this behemoth and bear in mind it’s only standard on the VX Limited and not the VX.

I tried some light duty off-roading – one doesn’t just take a $147,500 Toyota into serious wilderness without first seeking approval from Toyota and second, having a backup plan. It performed admirably on some muddy farm tracks with some moderate gradients. The approach and departure angles are 30 degrees and 20 degrees respectively.

There’s plenty of power from the 195kW V8 turbodiesel. The engine produces a ground trembling 650Nm of torque which gives the Land Cruiser a kick in the backside for overtaking duties. There is a power mode and also a mode called 2nd which starts the vehicle in second gear if it’s slippery.Toyota’s quoted fuel economy is 10.3l/100km. On a trip from Auckland to Dargaville (pelican hunting) and back I got into the 9l/100km range as it was predominantly an open road journey. The mixture of round-town driving and open road resulted in 12.2l/100km. You will go a long while between fills, though, because the fuel tank takes 138 litres.

Many Land Cruisers will find themselves in the city. It’s surprising just how many you see once you’re driving one yourself. Of course, towing prowess (3500kg on a braked trailer) is going to make it great for the boat, but it also provides almost unparalleled visibility over the top of every other vehicle and comes with kid-friendly features like the rear DVD player with individual headphone outputs for two rear passengers. For the larger family there are an extra two seats that will fold down in the boot for a total of seven.

Family comfort is extended with quad-zone air conditioning, heated driver, front passenger and rear passenger seats, cooling fans in the driver and front passenger seats, heated steering wheel and a nine-speaker stereo system.

The driver has a large number of options and controls available via the 8-inch touch screen. This includes the audio system, Bluetooth phone integration, vehicle setup and satellite navigation.

You’re always going to make a compromise with a vehicle like this. Its very presence and design mean it’s going to be soft in the corners; if you don’t like it, buy a Cayenne and then you’ll never take it off the tarmac. However, there is one (and only one) thing that I disliked about it: the climate control was fiddly. It’s a mixture of buttons and touchscreen operation. You can’t quickly turn the fan up or down, and it’s very difficult to do it without taking your eyes off the road.

The multitude of external cameras (front, passenger side and rear) plus parking sensors makes this giant machine bearable in tighter city car parks. But it’s really at home in wide open spaces. Excellent towing capability, a well-specified interior and practical features like the split folding tailgate make the Land Cruiser a practical yet luxurious ride.  If I had to transport a hundred kilos of bullion across the Moroccan desert I would probably do it in a Land Cruiser. It even contains a cool box to keep your drinks chilly.

Looking for a second hand Land Cruiser? Try here.

Price: $147,500


  • Supremely comfortable
  • Capable off-road
  • Loads of interior features


  • Feels very heavy on the road
  • Aircon operation fiddly
Front Track 1640 mm
Rear Track 1635 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 3350 kg
Kerb Weight 2705-2750 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance 225 mm
Overall Height 1960 mm
Overall Length 4950 mm
Overall Width 1970 mm
Tow Capacity Braked 3500 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked 750 kg
Wheelbase 2850 mm


Description Multi-terrain Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Active Traction Control (A-TRC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Crawl Control with Turn Assist & Multi-Terrain Select
Front Power-Assisted Ventilated Disc Brakes
Rear Power-Assisted Ventilated Disc Brakes
Park Brake Centre Floor Type Mechanical Parking Brake
ABS Standard


Engine Model Code 1VD-FTV
Type V Type, 8 Cylinder, 32 Valve, DOHC with Twin Turbo Chargers and Intercooler
Short Description 4.5 Litre Diesel
Alternator 150 Amps
Battery Voltage 12 Volts
Bore 86.0 mm
Capacity 4461 cc
Compression 16.8 : 1
Configuration V Type
Condition Combined
Emission 273 g/km * Laboratory results for comparative purposes only, actual results may vary.
Test Australian Design Rule – 81/01
Fuel Tank Capacity 138 Litres
Fuel Type Diesel
Injection Type Common Rail Direct Injection
Location Front, Longitudinal
Maximum Power 195kW 3400 rpm
Maximum Torque 650Nm 2600 rpm
Starter 2.7 kW
Stroke 96.0 mm
Vehicle Fuel Economy Information*
Fuel Economy Rating 3.5 out of 6
Litres per 100km 10.3
Fuel Cost Per Year $2,760
This data is provided by NZTA for comparative purposes. Your actual fuel consumption will vary from that shown, depending on factors such as vehicle condition and any vehicle modifications, driving style, traffic conditions, distance travelled and fuel price variations. Visit for more information.



18″ Alloy Wheels
Aluminium Side Steps
Body Coloured Exterior Door Handles
Body Coloured Front Bumpers
Body Coloured Rear Bumper with Step
Body Coloured Rear Spoiler
Chrome Plated Front Grille
Chrome Rear Door Garnish with “Land Cruiser” Logo
Electric Luggage Area Exterior Door Handle
Body Coloured, Automatic Anti-Glare with Power Retract, Heater, Auto Reverse Tilt, Memory Function and Camera Exterior Rear View Mirrors – Power Operated with Side Indicator Lamps
Front (2) and Rear (1) Towing Hooks
Front (2) and Rear (4) Parking Sensors
Front and Rear Mud Guards
Front Fog / Driving Lights
Fuel Cap with Tether Anchor
Grey Tinted Side Privacy Glass
UV Resistant Glass
Headlights – High Beam: Multi Reflector Halogen, Low beam: HID Bi-Xenon
Headlight Cleaners with Washer-linked Function
Headlight Levelling
Intermittent Rear Window Wiper
LED High Stop Light
LED Rear Combination Lamps
Radio Antenna Embedded in Left and Right Rear Window Glass
Rear Window Demister
Roof Rails – Black
Side Door Impact Bars
Touch Up Paint
Towing Hitch Attachment Point with Cover
Under Floor Mounted Spare Wheel Carrier
Washer-Linked, Variable Intermittent, Rain Sensing Wipers
Water-Repellant, Tinted, Laminated, Acoustic Windscreen Glass with Dark Blue Top Shade



2×3-Point ELR Front Seat Belts with Pre-Tensioners and Force Limiters
3×3-Point ALR/ELR Second Row Seat Belts with Outer Pre-Tensioners
3×3-Point ALR/ELR Third Row Seat Belts
Adjustable Front Seatbelt Anchors
Adjustable Second Row Outer Seatbelt Anchors
Airbags – Driver & Passenger Front, Knee & Side Airbags and Front, Second + Third Row Curtain Shield Airbags plus Second Row Side Airbags
Child Proof Rear Door Locks
Child Restraint ISO Fixing Points (2) and Tether Anchors (3)
Daytime Running Lights
Driver and Front Passenger Seat Belt Warning Lights and Buzzer
Active type Headrests (Front) – with Height and Tilt Adjustment
Headrests (Second and Third Row) – with Height Adjustment for Second Row and Inner Third Row Seats

Interior Design

Accessory Power Outlets – Front & Rear 12V + AC220 (100W) Volt in Rear Luggage Area
Independent Control Four Zone Climate Control Air Conditioning
Assist Grips – Front Row (4), Second Row (4) and Third Row (2)
Audio – Pioneer AM/FM Radio with MP3/WMA CD/DVD Player, USB port and 9 Speakers
Auto-Off Headlights
Electrochromatic Type Interior Rear View Mirror
Card Holder
Centre Console Compartment
Centre Differential Lock Switch
Cigarette Lighter with Illumination
Chrome Plated Interior Door Handles
Clean Air Filter with Pollen Filter
Cool Box
Crawl Control Speed Selector with 5 Settings & Turn Assist On/Off Switches
Cruise Control
Cup Holders – Front (2), Rear (2) and Third Row (4)
Dash Light Dimmer
Digital Clock
Door Ajar Warning
Door Scuff Plates
Driver’s Foot Rest
Economy Meter
ECT 2nd Start Button
EMV (Electronic Multi-Vision) Display with HDD Satellite Navigation System, Bluetooth Telephone Capability, Audio Controls, Climate Controls, and Reversing Camera
Engine Immobiliser and Alarm System
Front Ashtray
Front and Rear Door Armrests
Front and Rear Door Courtesy Lights
Front and Rear Door Operated Interior Room Lights
Front and Rear Door Pockets with Bottle Holders
Digital Type Heater Controls
Front Personal Lights
Front Seat Back Pockets
Front and Second Row Rear Seat Heaters & Front Seat Ventilation
Front Sunvisors with Illuminated Vanity Mirrors, Cover and Sub Visors
Front Seats with Power Adjustment and Driver’s Side Memory System
Fuel Level Warning Light
Fuel Sediment Warning Light and Buzzer
Leather & Wood Style Gear Lever
Gear Shift Position Indicator on Gear Lever and Instrument Panel
Illuminated Entry System
Key Remind Warning
Lockable Glovebox with Illumination
Luggage Area Cargo Hooks (4)
Manual Idling Control Button for Improved Heating Performance
Multi-Information Display  (3.5-inch color TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) screen) with Twin Trip Meters, Gear Lever Position, Driving Range, Average Speed, Distance Travelled, Current and Average Fuel Consumption, Warning Functions, Steering Wheel Angle Display, Digital Speed Display, Turn-by-Turn Display & Multi-Terrain Select Display
Multi-Terrain Monitor (4 Camera System)
Optitron Instrument Panel
Outside Temperature Display
Park Assist On/Off Button
Power Windows with One-Touch Auto Up/Down and Anti-Jam Safety Function
Power Glass Sunroof with Tilt and Slide Functions
Rear Coat Hooks (2)
Rear Console Box with Cup Holders (2)
Rear Personal Lights
Rear Seat Centre Arm Rest
Rear Seat Entertainment System
Remote Fuel Lid Release
Roll-Sensing Curtain Shield Airbag (RSCA) On/Off Button
Seating (Front) – with Manual Slide and Recline Functions, Driver’s Seat Height and Tilt Adjustment and Power Lumbar Support
Seating (Second Row) – 40/20/40 Split Folding Seats with Slide, Recline and Tumble Functions
x2 Seating Positions Seating (Third Row) – 50/50 Split Folding Seats with Recline, Fold and Space-Up Functions
Leather Seat Material
Shift Lock System
Smart Key System with Remote Central Door Locking, Answer Back & Panic Functions
Smart Start System
4 Spoke Leather & Wood Style with Heater Steering Wheel with Audio, Display, Bluetooth & Voice Control Switches
Engine Stop/Start Button
With Power Adjustment & Memory Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column Adjustment
VSC/A-TRC On/Off Switch


Description Engine Speed Sensitive Power-Assisted Rack and Pinion Steering
Minimum Turning Circle 11.8 m
Steering Ratio 16.7
Turns lock to lock 3.14
Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column


Front Fully Independent Double Wishbone Coil Spring with Stabiliser Bar
Rear 4-line Coil Rigid Suspension with Lateral Rod and Stabiliser Bar
Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS)


Description 6-Speed Super ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Shift Control and Sequential Manual Mode
Type 6AT
Drive Type Full-Time 4WD
Diff Type Torsen Centre LSD (Torque sensing Limited Slip Differential)
Gear 1 Ratio 3.333
Gear 2 Ratio 1.960
Gear 3 Ratio 1.353
Gear 4 Ratio 1.000
Gear 5 Ratio 0.728
Gear 6 Ratio 0.588
Reverse Ratio 3.061
Final Ratio 3.909
Shift Type Auto


Description 8J x 18″ Alloy Wheels
Tyre Size 285/60 R18 steel belted radial ply tyres
Wheel Type Alloy
Full Size Alloy Spare Wheel


Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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