Crucially, the new generation four-cylinder common rail diesel engine, evolved from the 2.0 D4-D used in Corolla and Avensis, also offers genuinely impressive economy, prodigious torque and respectable performance.
Compared with its predecessor, this D4-D boosts power by 3bhp to 164bhp, but torque rises from 253lb-ft at 1,600-3,200rpm to a flexible, barn-pulling 302lb-ft from 2,000-2,600rpm.
In dry conditions, the 2.8-tonne gvw Cruiser can be heaved from 0-60mph in just over 11sec (previously 12.7sec), mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
Better still, combined fuel economy is up from 29.7mpg (27.2mpg auto) to 31.4mpg (31mpg auto). The five-door, eight-seat LC5 auto we had on test for a week returned 28mpg over more than 500 miles (just 10 of them in the rough to check out the hill-start assist and downhill assist control fitted as options to the full-time 4WD system).
As this is an off-roader in its purist sense, there are still the drawbacks of body roll and sheer size to contend with. But petrol or diesel, every Land Cruiser from LC3 to LC5 comes with cruise control, alloy wheels, alarm and immobiliser in a substantial standard equipment package designed to offer dual-purpose luxury.
LC4 and LC5 models also have leather upholstery and a sophisticated satnav system (LC5 gets Electronic Traffic Avoidance as standard).
Frankly, with this engine in place, it’s hard to imagine any customer wanting to swap grunt and economy for the sub-10sec 0-60mph that the 4.0-litre, 245bhp V6 petrol unit offers. The bulk of 3,800 sales in 2005 will be diesels.
Strength:Excellent diesel engine at last
Weakness:More impressive off road than on
Threat: Plenty of rivals
The USP: Thinking man’s off-roader
Price: (LC5 auto) £37,395
Engine: 3.0-litre 4cyl diesel, 164bhp, 302lb-ft
Transmission: 5spd auto
Performance: 0-62mph 11.2sec; top speed 109mph
Efficiency: 31.4mpg (comb), 243g/km CO2
CAP RV (30k/3yr): £15,600 (42%)
Rivals: Shogun Warrior 3.2 DI-D, Nissan Patrol 3.0D SVE, Discovery 3 TD V6 SE, VW Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI