2017 Land Cruiser Xtreme Edition

"Made in the Gulf" product - true story!

"For the customers who want the car altered and still warranty covered - all for some extra bucks."

"Overall, the off-road drive was as easy as pie," said Ershad.

"Life inside is all JUMBO size!"

"The key play ups are those 18-inch black rims wrapped in BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires - gives a monstrous look."

Toyota's longest running model, the Land Cruiser, isn't a sketch that can be tweaked around every year. It is a household name in the Middle East; to an extent some even claim Land Cruiser to be a "Made in the Gulf" product - true story!

Our test car here is the Toyota Land Cruiser Xtreme edition. We saw the Xtreme lineup introduced by the dealer in the UAE a few years ago and now Toyota got the Xtreme range back again for its customers. The extra mods are done by an Icelandic company named Arctic Trucks, who are known to re-engineer four-wheel drive vehicles for extreme conditions. The logo of Arctic Trucks is right on the wheels' center cap.

Land Cruiser Xtreme stands tall with a majestic hold on the ground, thanks to the two-inch lift kit. Fender flares make sure there's enough room to avoid needless friction with the tires. You can see why the off-roader is 'up' with all these mean measures. A massive front grille along with big chrome elements adds to the metal, plus you've got fog lamps, LED headlights with DRLs and headlight cleaners. Going sideways, we have powered door mirrors with reverse tilt function, chrome door handles and chrome side protection molding. At the rear, the highlights are a roof spoiler, bumper step moldings and a towing hitch with pintle hook. The key play ups are those 18-inch black rims wrapped in BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires - gives a monstrous look.

Everything inside is very "typical Land Cruiser" as always: spacious, easy to access and simple. The infotainment system was a big step up. A nine-inch touchscreen does the job of Nav/Audio/DVD/USB/AUX and Bluetooth features. Wireless charger deck for handsets sits right under A/C control buttons. Steering wheel is wrapped with leather and bits of wood. We found a little more of the latter across the dash and door walls. To add more ambience we've got front and rear door scuff plate illumination and floor illumination. Toyota is known for good air-conditioning, and Land Cruiser has Dual Auto A/C with manual rear cooler. Life inside is all JUMBO size - big seats, lots of room (even in the third row), big touchscreen and a center console cooler box. No wonder it's a hit in this part of the world.

Under the hood is a 4.6-liter V8 engine that delivers 304 horsepower and a decent torque of 439 Nm. It is put to a six-speed automatic gear system and of course on a full-time 4x4. Then there are all the safety features starting with ABS, Brake Assist, EBD, Turn Assist function and dual front/side/curtain airbags. Other standard features include parking sensors, rearview camera, rear fog lamps, cruise control, Active Traction Control, Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and Crawl Control.

We took the car on the road and drew some attention. Superior height, massive tires - the reason could be anything. On a straight road the ride was comfy but for every corner passengers in the back seat have a bit of a sideways swing; well that's a bit of an exaggeration but I think you know how it feels in a car weighing 3,350 kg. Brakes were right on considering the 'lump' their dealing with. Tire road noise was just about at an ignorable level, so that wasn't an issue.

Things got dramatic as we headed off-road on our way to Abu Dhabi. We found a terrain rough enough for a test with heaps of rocks and gravel. We got the locking central differential engaged; at neutral: switch the 4x4 mode to low range and give it a go on a pretty steep surface upwards. To be honest, the car stayed tight with good traction and the suspension really made the ride joyful. At low range, the throttle remained composed without any panic. Crawl control comes with a number of modes, which basically does the job of braking and throttle control, but we didn't actually use it. The reason being, you need to be really stuck. Overall, the drive off-road was as easy as pie.

Toyota also offers a 5.7-liter V8 variant for die-hard off-roaders. Let's get back to our tester 4.6-liter variant. We were quite impressed by the fit and finish of the interiors (considering it's a 'go bad' machine) and the well-balanced chassis. Land Cruiser is not alone in this territory and I can see the Nissan Patrol Desert Edition is the closest match. The Xtreme edition is a good alternative to customers who want the car altered and still warranty covered - all for some extra bucks. You know what I say about the Toyota Land Cruiser: "Made for the Gulf".

Pros: Great off-road qualities, spacious eight-seater, infotainment, aggressive tires
Cons: Fuel economy, Xtreme edition price
Rivals: Nissan Patrol Desert Edition, Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe
one word: off-road spirit
4 stars

4.6L V8, 304 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 439 Nm @ 3,400 rpm
Full-time 4x4, 6-speed auto
0-100 km/h: 10.5 sec, top speed: 200 km/h, fuel consumption: 14.5 L/100 km
Weight: 3,350 kg

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