4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

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.

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