If tasked to identify the most bullet proof of all the family 4x4 vehicles, most wouldn't hesitate to finger the Toyota Land Cruiser. It's a car that's engineered to be able to field service an oil well in remotest Kazakhstan or to maintain rabbit-proof fences in the Aussie outback, so taking care of an undropped kerb on the school run is unlikely to faze it. It's exactly this level of built-in over-engineering that makes the Land Cruiser so appealing, even in its smaller 'Light Duty Series' 'J150' 3.0-litre diesel guise.
No matter what you throw at it, it comes back for more. Yes, you can buy slicker, more urbane rivals, but when the chips are down, there's only one car you'd want to be in. In 2009, a new generation 3.0-litre D-4D diesel design was launched for the modern age, a car just as tough as before but more in tune with those who simply wanted to impress on the school run. Here's how to track down a used one.
To us, this car is a Toyota Land Cruiser. In many world markets, however, this 'Light Duty Series' model is known as a Land Cruiser Prado, the smaller 'diffusion line' of the real deal. But given that that real deal is usually powered by a monstrous V8 engine, we've settled for the Prado, here featured in post-2009 'J150'-series form, sold simply as the 'Land Cruiser' in the UK and powered by an unstressed 3.0-litre turbodiesel of fairly modest power output. Its 'J120'-series predecessor set the template for this car. That model was launched in 2003 and successfully bridged the gap between slick SUVs like the BMW X5 and genuinely agricultural fare like the Land Rover Defender. Here, in other words, was a car that you could drive across a field one day and, after a quick wash and brush-up, arrive in style at a social function.
The 'J150'-series car we look at here took up the reins in 2009. Running on much the same body-on-frame chassis, it was clear that this was more of an extensive refresh than an all-new car. Nevertheless, the 2009 model year 'J150' Land Cruiser included some new features, such as the Toyota EasyFlat third row seats that can be raised of folded flat at the touch of a button on LC4 and LC5 models. The usable load space was significantly increased and a new rear glass hatch allowed items to be loaded without having to open the full side-hinged tailgate - ideal for tight parking places.
At the start of 2011, Toyota launched a luxury 60th Anniversary model to sit above the existing LC5 trim grade. At the other end of the range, it also reintroduced a three-door version of Land Cruiser. Available exclusively in LC3 trim with manual transmission only and five seats, it came equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, vehicle stability control (VSC) with active traction control (A-TRC), climate control, a smart entry and start system, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system and front fog lamps and at just over £30,000, made Land Cruiser ownership that bit more affordable.
Perhaps the biggest change at this time was the re-engineering of the 3.0-litre D-4D engine. As a result, maximum output went up from 171 to 188bhp and maximum torque from 410 to 420Nm - performance gains achieved without harming fuel economy or emissions levels. With the benefit of a diesel particulate filter (DPF), the engine met Euro 5 emissions standards.