Following from MSN Autos, “World’s Bravest Trucks.” We’ve spent a lot of time in Land Cruisers in the Masai Mara of Kenya and in the Serengeti, including escaping from a charging elephant and having an enormous cheetah jump up onto our hood (you can see the photo of that in my essay, “The Masai Mara Hood Ornament,” at http://www.chilit.org, then look up my name under “Roll of Members.”

Toyota Land Cruiser
In what was the least-desirable “celebrity” endorsement ever, a tape emerged shortly after the September 11 attacks showing Osama bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qaeda hierarchy standing in the Afghani desert flanked by a fleet of Land Cruisers. Toyota obviously had no interest in putting bin Laden in a Super Bowl ad. The official line was that “it is not our proudest product placement,” but a Toyota spokesman added, “It shows that the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability.”

Despite the vehicle’s legendary off-roading ability — fans call it the Land Crusher, after all — the vehicle’s move from utilitarian rock crawler to luxurious, tech-laden Range Rover fighter has brought controversy for the UN and aid organizations: At nearly 70 grand, the current Land Cruiser is by no means cheap.

Those who feel the contemporary 200-series Land Cruiser is too grandiose can head to Toyota of Gibraltar for a brand-new 70-series. That’s Toyota-speak for the more-spartan Cruiser that has been around since 1984. In the past quarter-century, changes have been minimal: You can order yours with the understressed 4.2-liter inline-six diesel introduced in 1990 that develops 129 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. Toyota of Gib will be happy to supply you with just about any form of Land Cruiser you can conceive, from stock station wagon or pickup to ambulance, fire truck, or even mobile laboratory.

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