I have tested many SUVs, but most of those were front-driven crossovers, and even the Land Rovers I’ve driven have had a monocoque at least. The Land Cruiser is something else entirely, I realised as it grumbled into loud life, sat back on its big bum and floated lazily out of Toyota’s fleet garage, my steering inputs are seemingly taken as more approximations than directions.
Get this, though: I was laughing like an idiot. So homogenous and characterless are many cars these days that I loved finding a new way to drive and seeing controls and features that were totally unfamiliar. How’s a button for manual diesel particulate filter cleaning, an off-roading console or a central bin that can function as a fridge, for instance? I would like the touchscreen’s Apple CarPlay to be wireless for my £64,150, but otherwise Invincible spec (sitting above only Active trim) brings everything any countryside dweller could need.
In terms of old-school luxuries, I have said fridge, electric seat adjustment, a parking camera, parking sensors, automatic headlights, tri-zone air conditioning, powered mirrors, a heated and electrically adjustable steering wheel and comfy chairs with ventilation and heating and upholstered in Ortaka Ivory leather (the same colour as the carpet).
As for off-road features, I have Multi-Terrain Select (five off-road driving modes), cameras looking underneath the car, crawl control (a kind of off-road cruise control), a body angle display, a steering angle display, off-road turning assistance, a rear Torsen differential, a locking centre differential and Toyota’s fascinating Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which senses whether you are on or off-road and then hydraulically optimises the anti-roll bars accordingly.
And among the modern technology, I have a 9.0in infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat-nav, a punchy 14-speaker JBL stereo, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beam, automatic wipers, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and blindspot monitoring.
I may have been the butt of many jokes since being handed the keys to the Land Cruiser for the juxtaposition of my car and my lifestyle, but I’m already feeling like I’m making a new friend, I’ve booked a course to learn how to off-road (that you can read about here in the coming weeks) and I’ve even made one of my neighbours envious. Surprise, surprise, she’s a travelling equine vet.