4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - MATT RAUDONIKIS

OUR 4X4 Of The Year test threw up an in­ter­est­ing mix of ve­hi­cles from 2016. On the one hand we had the VW Amarok V6 that is loaded with the lat­est chas­sis tech, a clever and mis­chievous V6 diesel en­gine, and all the lux­ury fruit piled in­side; while on the other there were two heavy duty cabchas­sis utes that hark back more than three decades.

With their live axles front and rear and body-on-frame con­struc­tion, we like to call these two old-school trucks tra­di­tional, but are they re­ally any less tech savvy than the more mod­ern ve­hi­cles on the test? Both the G300 and the Land Cruiser are pow­ered by elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled, com­mon-rail diesel en­gines, and they both em­ploy elec­tronic chas­sis con­trols such as trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol to make them safer to drive. Just be­cause the G300 has win­dow winders and its ECUS are housed in a sealed con­sole box doesn’t mean you want to sub­merge it in a river; al­though, ad­mit­tedly, it would prob­a­bly drive fur­ther and deeper than some of the other ve­hi­cles on this test.

So the G300 and LC70 aren’t the low-tech, tra­di­tional trucks they were 30 years ago, but are they any bet­ter now than back then? From an emis­sions stand­point they cer­tainly are, but emis­sions don’t keep you re­laxed af­ter a 10-hour drive. Nor do they get you up a snotty hill that an old rig with open diffs and no elec­tron­ics would ever scale.

Any­one who has driven one of the early 70s from the 1980s will tell you they are noisy, slow and agri­cul­tural ve­hi­cles – they were only a small step up from the old 40 Se­ries. The cab­ins on those first 75 tray­backs were short and cramped for any­one taller than 160cm and, if you could get them up to 100km/h, you couldn’t talk to your pas­sen­ger over the noise. They were a lot like the G300 cab-chas­sis is to­day, de­spite the high-tech Benz en­gine un­der the blunt bon­net.

With its lat­est up­grades, how­ever mi­nor some of them may be, the LC79 is a re­fined and com­pe­tent tourer and off-roader. In fact, we’d say it’s the best 4x4 on the mar­ket bar none. Pos­si­bly the best 4x4 ever!

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