Don't get me wrong, I love my Land Rover, but....
Those of you who follow our adventures will be aware that we also run exciting 15 night overland adventure tours across Peru (www.perusafari.com)
As ardent Land Rover fans one would assume our immediate choice would have been the trusty Defender. They are tough, capable, and iconic. In the UK, they are easily repairable, and have a great network for spares and repairs. What better vehicle to take on wild Peru, having seen them conqour the very harshest roads that Africa can offer.
Well, no. We didn’t choose Land Rovers.
Having just completed 2,200km of on and off road driving in our new 2014 truck, that decision still holds firm (more than ever). Why?
In Peru, Land Rover have one dealer and they are a rare sight, even in the capital. So spares, repairs, and back up are next to non- existent. Land Rovers also (sadly) don’t have an equal reputation for reliability as Toyota, and this is critical for us in Peru, particularly with the newer models complex engines, where duct tape fixes are not possible. There is a saying. “A Land Rover will get you there, A Toyota will get you back!” Land Rover in this respect have handed the market on a plate to Toyota in developing countries, and seem to have focused entirely on the uber luxury market. This is a shame.
The Defender is a wonderful off road tool, and is without compare. It oozes real character. However, much of our days in Peru are spent on excellent tarmac (better than the UK in many instances!), where the ear bleeding cacophony that comes from the inside of a Defender above 70mph on the highway becomes wearing, not to mention that somewhat monastic driving position. The final nail in the coffin for our beloved Land Rovers as far as Peru went was altitude. The 2.4 diesel manages just fine in the UK and is a massive step forward on its predecessors, but take it to 17000 feet, and that 122 horse power drops to around 80-90 horse power. We don’t enjoy pushing Land Rovers up hills.
The Toyota by contrast is extremely comfortable, quiet, offers more space, is utterly reliable, and its 3.0 litre turbo diesel is considerably more powerful (which is essential at altitude). It’s the most common vehicle in Peru due to very extensive use by mining companies. Spares and repairs could not be more accessible, with numerous dealers in every major city. It delivers better MPG in all conditions than a Landy, and has better heating and air-conditioning. Finally it is (rather annoyingly) a very capable "off roader" and pretty indestructible as well. There really isnt a better choice for what we do in Peru.
So, why you ask, would we choose the Defender for the UK fleet, and not the Toyota? That’s a very good question. One answer is its ability to carry heavy loads without any adverse effect such as the twin roof tent system we have fitted to our UK vehicles. The other is that unlike Peru, spares and repairs are easy and reasonable. The final answer is.....Just because we love Defenders, and we are not alone.
Would we opt for Defenders again for the UK above Toyotas....yes absolutely.