THE GX IS NOT ONLY THE LEAST-EXPENSIVE 200 SERIES, IT’S THE MOST BUSH-READY.
WHAT list of best 4x4 buys wouldn’t include the 200 Series, the crown jewel in Toyota’s extensive range of off-road vehicles? Trouble is, which 200, given they are priced almost like crown jewels? Go for a top-spec Sahara and you’re at $120K even before on-road costs.
For our money the base-spec GX is the best value and is particularly attractive as a starting point for a 4x4 tourer. Mind you, it’s still expensive compared to a 78 Troop Carrier or the slightly cheaper 76 Wagon. If you go for the base-spec Workmate 76 you can save $18K over a 200 GX.
However, comparing the 200 to a current 76, 78 or 79DC doesn’t do any sort of favour to the 200. Sure, they are both Toyota Land Cruisers, but they feel like they come from different worlds, such is the huge gulf between them. The 70 drives like a thirdworld truck, while the 200 drives like a firstworld luxury 4x4. The 200 is light years ahead in comfort, refinement, ride and handling, engine performance, and the ability to cover huge distances without unduly fatiguing the driver or passengers. It’s also well ahead in active and passive safety.
The 70 is a more rugged and ultimately more capable off-road workhorse, but it’s badly compromised by its way-too-short highway gearing and single-turbo V8 diesel, which isn’t nearly as efficient as the 200’s twin-turbo V8. Throw in the 70’s blunt front aerodynamics and an engine that revs unduly even at modest highway speeds, and it’s no wonder it can drink fuel like it has a petrol V8 under the bonnet – and at a rate 15 to 20 per cent greater than a 200!
The GX didn’t arrive until late in 2011, some four years after the 200 range debuted and it’s effectively a stripped version of the popular 200 GXL. You still get the 195kw/640nm twin-turbo 4.5-litre V8 diesel complete with the sweet six-speed auto and the full raft of electronic chassis systems including stability, traction and crawl control. The GX also has front, side and curtain airbags.
Gone from the GXL are the third-row seats, carpet floors, proximity ignition key with push-button start, alloy wheels and horizontally split rear tailgate. In their place the GX has five seats, vinyl floor coverings, a conventional ignition key, steel wheels and rear ‘barn’ doors. The GX then gains a factory snorkel, the only 200 thus equipped. And with the third-row seats and other things gone, it has a higher payload than other 200s. Much bigger load space, too.