Old dog learns a few new tricks

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

Aus­tralian Toy­ota LandCruiser 70 Se­ries buy­ers want a tough ve­hi­cle, whether it is for farm­ing, min­ing, ex­plor­ing, or heavy-duty off-road hol­i­days.

The lat­est ver­sion in the Toy­ota four-wheel-drive that first went on sale here 32 years ago has been largely un­changed un­til the lat­est model ar­rived here late last year with many spe­cific changes to suit our lo­cal mar­ket.

Up­grades across the range in­clude a re-en­gi­neered sin­gle cabchas­sis, which now earns a max­i­mum five-star ANCAP safety rat­ing to sat­isfy work­place health and safety reg­u­la­tions. It is the sub­ject of this week’s road test.

It has a sig­nif­i­cantly re­vised frame that is larger and stiffer, re­vised body pan­els and new front seats.

Safety re­quired ma­jor changes. All modes now have ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity con­trol, ac­tive trac­tion con­trol, hill start as­sist, plus ABS brakes with brake as­sist and elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion. Cruise con­trol is also stan­dard.

Air-con­di­tion­ing is a $2761 op­tion.

The 4.4-litre turbo-diesel V8 en­gine has been up­graded to meet Euro 5 reg­u­la­tions. It trims fuel con­sump­tion by as much as 10.1 per cent and cuts ex­haust emis­sions at the same time.

The di­rect in­jec­tion com­mon­rail diesel en­gine de­liv­ers 151kW of power at just 3400 rpm and 430Nm of torque from 1200 to 3200rpm.

The five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion gear­ing is taller in sec­ond and fifth gears. Tow­ing ca­pac­ity is 3500kg. There are now up to five airbags, with the ad­di­tion of two side cur­tain and driver’s knee airbags where ap­pli­ca­ble. The seats have been re­mod­elled to give more pro­tec­tion from whiplash. The steer­ing link has been shifted to the rear of the front axle to keep the col­umn fur­ther away from a crash.

What looks like a large power bulge on the bon­net is there to give ex­tra clear­ance above en­gine bay com­po­nents to sat­isfy pedes­trian im­pact re­quire­ments.

This time around we did most of our driv­ing be­ing done in the outer sub­urbs, shop­ping cen­tres and mo­tor­ways, with some lovely week­end tour­ing up in the hin­ter­land.

Seat com­fort has been im­proved as part of the safety re­design and af­ter one trip of a cou­ple of hun­dred kilo­me­tres, we still felt re­laxed in the back. Steer­ing wheel ad­just­ment is four-way.

The turn­ing cir­cle is hor­ren­dous at 14.4m. OK, so this is an old nonon­sense truck, but surely some­thing could have been done?

Ob­vi­ously in coun­try towns this is less of a prob­lem, but there are still places where tight turns are needed in on and off-road driv­ing. Steer­ing is on the vague side and it tends to wan­der.

As with most trucks you need to learn to let the Cruiser do its own thing rather than driv­ing your­self mad by keep­ing it ex­actly on track all the time.

Other old-fash­ioned touches are a cig­a­rette lighter in the dash, and but­tons to raise or lower the ra­dio aerial. One big com­plaint is the man­ual ad­just­ment of the ex­te­rior mir­rors. Un­less you have some­one to help it can take a ridicu­lous amount of time to set up the left mir­ror ex­actly to its safest an­gle.

The V8 en­gine is a good old­fash­ioned diesel in the way it is happy to start in sec­ond gear and wan­der along all day be­low 2000 revs and re­spond promptly when over­tak­ing.

Yet the big V8 is thor­oughly mod­ern in that it starts vir­tu­ally in­stantly, is qui­eter at idle than many turbo-diesels in Euro­pean cars, and typ­i­cally uses less than 12 litres per 100km in easy-paced re­al­world driv­ing.

A hill-hold fa­cil­ity pre­vents the ve­hi­cle rolling back when start­ing an in­cline for two sec­onds.

We loved our week in the new/ old Toy­ota LandCruiser 70 Se­ries.

It is an ul­tra-tough, old­fash­ioned ve­hi­cle that is al­most love­able in the way it looks af­ter you.

Pic­tures: Bob Seary

Big tray-back Toy­ota LandCruiser is unashamedly a truck, and we like it like that.

All modes now have ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity con­trol, ac­tive trac­tion con­trol, hill start as­sist, ABS brakes with brake as­sist and elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion.

There are now up to five airbags.

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