Cruiser trails the pack
LAMENTING the passing of ye olde 4WDs is a favourite past-time – softroaders that are more attuned to school runs than ridge climbs have been given a charisma bypass.
Not so the LandCruiser, more specifically the 70-Series (pictured) that’s more likely spotted in a mine car park (or down a mine) than on any school trip.
We’ve been thrown the keys to the new dual-cab GXL – $68,000 worth of square-jawed unapologetic truck that makes its 200 Series sibling look a little pudgy and pasty. VALUE: If you’re a mining company buying them by the shipload then Toyota probably makes it a very good deal, but if you saunter into a showroom and ante up, it’s $67,990. That’s entry-level Discovery 4, Mitsubishi Pajero or Jeep Grand Cherokee money. If you need a rear tray you’d be considering a number of more comprehensively equipped and recently released models that are thousands of dollars cheaper.
The features list and cabin comforts are somewhat retro, beyond the Bluetooth-equipped head unit for the two-speaker sound system.
There’s cloth trim, a five-speed manual, remote central locking, side steps, fog lights, power windows but manually adjustable mirrors, the Bluetooth and USB audio link, Bluetooth phone link (which is not great due to cabin noise and microphone distance), air intake snorkel, front and rear diff locks, but airconditioning is an optional extra. TECHNOLOGY: It might supply the soundtrack of a gruff and beefy truck but the LandCruiser ute’s V8 is not completely archaic – quad cams, exhaust gas recirculation and a variable nozzle turbocharger with intercooler and common-rail directinjection feed the 4.5 litre diesel unit.
The result is 151kW and 430Nm of torque – the same output that the old straight-six turbodiesel offered and not quite the 195kW and 650Nm from the twin-turbo version of the same engine shoving the 200 Series around. DESIGN: Well, utilitarian is one way to describe it, functional, tall and unmistakable. The cabin is also mindful of history and pays homage accordingly – the front seats are more comfortable than appearances suggest and there’s no shortage of forward vision, although looking aft when the spare wheel is mounted vertically in the tray is a little less enlightening. SAFETY: Not an area at the forefront of the mind in the segment, but it does now have dual front airbags and antilock brakes for the discs beneath all four wheels, but there’s not much else. DRIVING: Anyone driving a modern 4WD might well start looking for a truck brand badge on the grille. This is one book that can be judged on its cover, as the LandCruiser ute is most certainly resisting the 21st century.
You sit up high, typifying the command driving position, which also puts the snorkel close to your ear for the dragon-like breathing noise from the air intake.
The recirculating ball and nut steering is ponderous and vague, with a turning circle that makes a Collins class sub look nimble. The gear change is gruff and can’t be rushed and a relaxed pace is required, but getting some work done is what this beast is all about and it is well-suited to manual labour. Locking in the manual front hubs would also be a novelty for modern off-roaders, but getting into the tougher terrain (and making use of 235mm of ground clearance, low range and the front and rear diff locks) was effortless, apart from the grumpy gear change not proving ideal in heavy sand. VERDICT: An effective workhorse but there are better-value and more versatile offerings on the market.