Driven: Toyota Land Cruiser Commercial LWB

Pickup trucks might dominate the commercial market but, sometimes, what you really need is a van that can go anywhere. While there are vans with a four-wheel-drive system from the likes of Mercedes and Ford, Toyota’s Land Cruiser Commercial takes a different route and converts its all-conquering off-roader to commercial specification.

Launched in 2018, the Land Cruiser was kitted out with as few bells and whistles as possible, leaving the rugged off-roader available in a short or long-wheelbase Utility trim level. Toyota has now added the Active specification to the Land Cruiser, bringing a touch of luxury to the workaday ambience.

Land Cruiser Commercial: Exterior

You’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between the Land Cruiser Commercial and any other Land Cruiser, at least at a glance. The windows in the rear doors and beyond have been covered in black plastic, looking just like very dark tinted windows, but that’s about it.

There’s even a smattering of chrome details on this Active spec, such as the vertical bars of the grille and its surround, while the SUV also gets 17-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured wing mirrors. It’s not much, but it makes quite a difference when it’s parked up alongside Range Rovers in the supermarket car park.

It’s a bulky vehicle, too, measuring 4,840mm from bumper to bumper – large by SUV standards, but helpfully more compact than any pickup truck. However, the five-door long-wheelbase model tested here is also joined by a short-wheelbase three-door model that’s a compact 4,395mm long – that’s about the same as a Ford Focus.

Land Cruiser Commercial: Interior

Suggesting the interior has had a luxurious makeover is perhaps going too far, with the only visible update being the infotainment system. This is now a larger 8.0-inch system that houses the DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and the optional navigation system. It’s not exactly cutting edge, and doesn’t include anything as advanced as Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but it does the job and is easy enough to use.

Keyless entry and start will make life easier for those jumping in and out of the cabin frequently. The steering wheel gets a more comfortable leather cover, there’s dual-zone climate control in place to keep you cool, and there’s a little extra faux-metal around the cabin, but it’s never going to be mistaken for a Lexus.

Room is plentiful in the cabin, with more than enough headroom and elbow room, and a widely adjustable seat making it easy to get into a comfortable driving position.

Dashboard of the Land Cruiser Commercial

Land Cruiser Commercial: On the Road

There’s just the one engine option in the Land Cruiser Commercial, and that’s a 2.8-litre turbo diesel unit from the regular consumer version. This produces 177hp and provides 420Nm of torque, making it more potent than the current generation Hilux pickup.

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Few will ever need it but, for the record, Toyota says the Land Cruiser will hit 62mph in 12.1 seconds, and continue on to 108mph. Performance like that ensures you can keep up with other road traffic, but the Land Cruiser has a strange quirk – such is the isolation from the outside world that you’ll always be travelling roughly 10mph faster than you think you are.

Despite what the numbers say, it takes a while to get the behemoth rolling but, once it’s going, it seems to be able to keep pace with ease. Even the six-speed automatic gearbox, while rather pedestrian in how quickly it changes ratios, doesn’t get unstuck in its choice of gear and does a good job of being in the right gear at the right time.

Tall, 70-section tyres really help with comfort, as does the soft, long-travel suspension. This doesn’t have to cope with a one-tonne-plus payload, so can be kept more cossetting, gliding over most bumps without fuss. With those soft, wide velour seats, it’s a supremely comfortable place to spend the day, arguably more so than any number of ‘proper’ SUV rivals.

There’s a penalty to be paid in handling qualities, where the same parts that create the comfort can’t cope with anything approaching enthusiastic driving but, ultimately, there is lots of grip even if it’s untidy as you explore the limit of what’s available.

Land Cruiser Commercial: Off Road

The desert-like conditions of Cambridgeshire are not the ideal circumstances to test any off-roader, but the Land Cruiser has long been respected for its ability to cross tough terrain.

Permanent four-wheel-drive with selectable high and low range options is aided by a traction control system that can apply brake force to a wheel that may be slipping, while distributing power evenly between the remaining three.

It’s possible to lock the Torsen centre differential for the really tough stuff, and the traction control system can be turned off if necessary. As with most off-road vehicles, there is also hill descent control present to keep things in check on slopes, as well as a hill-start assist.

Of course, tyres count for much and this Land Cruiser came fitted with a set of road-focussed Bridgestone Dueler H/T rubber that offered plenty of grip on tarmac and the dusty, dry tracks of Cambridgeshire, but might struggle in tougher conditions.

Approach angle (°)31Climbing angle limit (°)42
Departure angle (°)25Minimum ground clearance (mm)215
Ramp angle limit (°)22Wading depth (mm)700
Side angle limit (°)42
Interior of the Land Cruiser Commercial

Land Cruiser Commercial: Payload and Towing

You won’t be able to squeeze a full tonne into the back of the Land Cruiser, but there is the capability to carry 642kg of payload, which is perhaps more than expected.

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The load area is smartly finished. Gone, obviously, are the rear seats leaving a flat floor that’s trimmed in rubberised plastic and stretches from the rear door all the way to the metal bulkhead that keeps the load away from the driver. That bulkhead is solid steel at the lower half, and mesh above to allow for better rearward viability.

The side doors, exactly the same as the passenger doors on the regular Land Cruiser, allow some access to the load area, which could be handy if you need a hand pulling, tugging or sliding a load around. The rear door swings sideways, which makes it easier to forklift in a pallet, but harder if you’re in a tight space and need to manually load things. Pleasingly, there’s a handy bar that can be locked into place preventing the door from slamming shut unexpectedly.

Being based on an SUV, it’s also not without compromises. The rear doors retain their usual trim, including handles, inoperative electric window switches, and cupholders, while the grab handles and seat belt outlets are still in place.

All models can tow up to three tonnes, a little short of the usual pickup truck limits. It does come with trailer sway control as standard though, adding a degree of security to motorway travel particularly,

Kerb weight (kg)2,225Load bay length (mm)1,480
Gross vehicle weight (kg)2,930Load bay width (mm)1,045
Payload (kg)642Load bay height (mm)982
Gross vehicle mass (kg)5,930Load bay capacity (l)2,790
Towing capacity braked (kg)3,000Towing capacity unbraked (kg)750
Load bay of the Land Cruiser Commercial

Land Cruiser Commercial: Verdict

The market for a tough, off-road capable, SUV-based van is pretty limited, with the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport being the only realistic rival (at least until Land Rover releases the Defender Hard Top commercial, while the Discovery Commercial is a class above) which means the Land Cruiser only needs to be the best of two to be the recommended choice.

There are issues, not least with the Land Cruiser’s thirst for fuel (27.3mpg on our test, which included a significant amount of gentle cruising along main roads) and its limited payload – although it’s still a handy 37kg more than the Mitsubishi. The infotainment system is a bit 2005, too.

But that’s really about it. The Toyota is backed by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty too, covering 37,500 more miles of motoring than Mitsubishi does. Running costs are competitive, with low depreciation ensuring financing costs can be kept in check. Over a three-year, 45,000 mile lifecycle, you’ll spend about the same on running either a Land Cruiser or a Shogun Sport, but you’ll get a lot more of your money back with the Toyota come trade-in.

Financially and practically, it makes the most sense. Emotionally, it ticks all the boxes too.

Model tested: Toyota Land Cruiser Commercial Active LWB

OTR Price£40,660CV OTR Price£33,937
Reclaimable VAT£6,723CV Price Range£28,020-£33,937