Old dog learns a few new tricks
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.
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.