The Mother­ship

IT’S BEEN AROUND FOR A GOOD WHILE NOW, BUT THE CORE VAL­UES OF THE LAND CRUISER 200 RE­MAIN UNDI­MIN­ISHED.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

IT’S AL­MOST 10 years to the day since the 200 Series ar­rived in Australia to re­place the 100 Series, end­ing the 100’s nine-year run as Toy­ota’s pre­mier 4x4. In the en­su­ing 10 years the 200 has changed re­mark­ably lit­tle, save for the in­tro­duc­tion of the work-spec GX diesel in 2011, a new-gen­er­a­tion V8 petrol en­gine in 2012, and, more re­cently, a front-end styling re­fresh and emis­sions com­pli­ance changes for the diesel en­gine in 2015.

These com­pli­ance changes (to meet Euro 5) amount to a new com­mon rail fuel-in­jec­tion sys­tem com­plete with fastswitch­ing piezo in­jec­tors, which re­place the elec­tro­mag­netic in­jec­tors used pre­vi­ously, and the ad­di­tion of a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter. As well as meet­ing Euro 5 and low­er­ing the ADR fuel use, max­i­mum power edged up 5kw to 200kw; al­though, max­i­mum torque re­mained at 650Nm.

The fact the 200 has changed so lit­tle and is now into its 11th year is tes­ta­ment to the sound­ness of the orig­i­nal de­sign. How­ever, a new Cruiser is close – per­haps very close – but we aren’t ex­actly sure when it will ar­rive.

POW­ER­TRAIN AND PER­FOR­MANCE

THE 200’s diesel V8 is a world apart from the two four-cylin­der en­gines here in the way it sounds, the way it feels and the way it goes about its busi­ness.

De­spite be­ing qui­eter than it was be­fore the 2015 com­pli­ance up­date, this is still a gruff, noisy and ‘truck-like’ en­gine com­pared to both fours, espe­cially the Dis­cov­ery’s. But that’s one of the few neg­a­tive things – aside from its thirst – you can say about the big twin-turbo V8.

The en­gine never needs to rev and does the job with­out fuss or ef­fort thanks in part to the fact it’s al­ready pro­duc­ing a sub­stan­tial 650Nm at just 1600rpm – that’s 200Nm more than the Prado and 150Nm more than the Dis­cov­ery. Bet­ter still, that 650Nm re­mains undi­min­ished for the next 1000rpm, which gives a low and mid­dle rpm flex­i­bil­ity that the two fours sim­ply can’t match.

The only thing that pre­vents the V8 hav­ing com­plete and ut­ter per­for­mance dom­i­nance in this com­pany is the ex­tra 500kg or so that it has to deal with com­pared to the work asked of the two fours. Car­ry­ing all that ex­tra weight is also the prime rea­son why the 200 trails the field here in fuel econ­omy. Our test saw it use 25 per cent more fuel than the Prado and 33 per cent more than the thrifty Dis­cov­ery.

The six-speed gear­box of­fers smooth and well-timed shifts, with­out be­ing as pol­ished or proac­tive as the Dis­cov­ery’s ZF eight-speed.

ON-ROAD RIDE AND HAN­DLING

MORE than any­thing else, the 200’s ex­tra bulk de­fines what it does in this com­pany in terms of its on-road dynamics – it feels big­ger, bulkier and ul­ti­mately more cum­ber­some in the tight

The 200 is the most com­fort­able and smoothest-rid­ing of the three here on rough trails

stuff than the other two. Thank­fully our test GXL was fit­ted with the op­tional KDSS, which ti­dies up the on-road hand­ing con­sid­er­ably and is well worth the ex­tra cost even if you never take your 200 off-road.

The flip­side of the 200’s steady-as-she-goes dynamics is that it’s very com­fort­able and quiet at speed on poor roads, sealed or not. There is, like the Prado, some bump-steer from the rear live axle, but this is some­thing prob­a­bly made more ob­vi­ous by driv­ing it in the com­pany of the Dis­cov­ery with its fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion.

Of the three, the 200 of­fers the smoothest ride, which helps make it a very re­laxed and ac­com­plished long-dis­tance tourer.

OFF-ROAD

THE 200’s sup­ple long-travel sus­pen­sion is also the key be­hind its for­mi­da­ble off-road per­for­mance. With its op­tional KDSS, the wheel travel is even bet­ter than a stan­dard GXL, so gnarly and rut­ted trails present no ob­sta­cle to the 200. Also im­pres­sive is the 200’s Crawl Con­trol, which has an un­canny abil­ity to ‘ex­tract’ the 200 from sit­u­a­tions where it oth­er­wise seems stranded.

The 200 is the most com­fort­able and smoothest-rid­ing of the three here on rough trails, espe­cially rel­a­tive to the Dis­cov­ery which loses much of its com­pli­ance when its sus­pen­sion is jacked up.

Sur­pris­ingly for a ve­hi­cle that’s so heavy the 200 works well on sand but, like the Prado, you can only de­ac­ti­vate the sta­bil­ity con­trol af­ter the trac­tion con­trol has been can­celled.

CABIN, AC­COM­MO­DA­TION AND SAFETY

THE 200 has the most spa­cious cabin here and is the only one to seat eight. Up front it of­fers a very com­fort­able driv­ing po­si­tion com­plete with tilt-and-reach steer­ing wheel ad­just­ment. The cabin de­tail­ing is first class, and the most re­cent re­vi­sion that sees all off-road con­trols grouped – rather than be­ing in var­i­ous places on the dash – is most wel­come.

The 200’s sec­ond-row seat is best here for three adults; al­though, the third-row seat isn’t as spa­cious as the Dis­cov­ery’s, even if it can legally seat three rather than two. How­ever, the 200 has the big­gest lug­gage space here. All 200s offer five-star ANCAP safety but, as with the Prado, only the top-spec model – in this case the Sa­hara – has ad­vanced safety fea­tures.

PRAC­TI­CAL­I­TIES

THERE’S very lit­tle not to like about the 200 in terms of prac­ti­cal­ity, not least be­ing the vast ar­ray of af­ter­mar­ket en­hance­ments on offer, the back-up of Australia’s big­gest dealer net­work, the 285/65R17 wheel and tyre package, and its 3500kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity. The 200’s big and torquey V8 is also ideal for tow­ing. Sur­pris­ingly, it has the small­est pay­load here (due to its con­sid­er­able kerb weight eat­ing into the GVM) and less fuel ca­pac­ity than the Prado.

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