2013 TOYOTA LANDCRUISER DIESEL REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: $119,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine / trans: 4.5 litre twin-turbo V8 diesel / 6spd sports auto
Power / torque: 195kW @ 3400 RPM / 650Nm @ 1600 RPM
Fuel Economy claimed: 10.3 lt/100km | tested: 13.6 lt/100km
Would anyone dispute the credentials of Toyota’s LandCruiser as an off-road vehicle?
With over half a century of R&D behind it, the LandCruiser range has rightfully built a reputation for tough-as-nails capability.
That’s not all. Get behind the wheel of the range-topping LandCruiser Sahara, and we don’t think anyone would dispute that this interior is an extremely pleasant place to be.
TMR was thrown the “keys” (or the small plastic box that passes for keys these days) to Toyota’s recently updated, giant, LandCruiser Sahara V8 twin-turbo diesel for a weekend on and off the bitumen.
Is it worth the extra money over the entry-level LandCruiser which, incidentally, has the same V8 diesel engine?
That’s what we set out to find out.
Quality: Toyota has made a special effort with the interior of its most expensive car in Australia. You’d describe it best as ‘sumptuous’.
There’s wood-grain finish to the steering wheel and centre console surrounds, leather seats and a quality fit and finish all-round.
It is also limousine-quiet... but with a difference. Plant the accelerator and you’ll be reminded with a deep rounded growl of what is nestled under the bonnet.
Our only gripe about the interior is the interior light switch in the front. It isn’t in an obvious location and is awkward to find.
Comfort: What do you get for all those extra dollars the Sahara demands? Comfort in spades.
There’s lashings of leather on the generously-wide heated and cooled electric seats (though they’re flatter than we like) with three memory settings for the driver, electric adjustable steering column, drinks chiller in the centre console, and two-way sun visors.
And, despite the acreage of space inside, the steering column automatically retracts as you turn the ignition off to ease entry and exit.
Equipment: The Sahara also comes with four-zone climate-control, cruise-control (but not radar-guided), moon-roof, sat-nav, Bluetooth, USB port, remote control DVD player with drop-down screen in the rear, keyless entry, several cameras and a centre console compartment capable of chilling drinks.
There is even a good old-fashioned cigarette lighter and ashtray!
Storage: Big? There are vast expanses of floor and cargo space - the back section alone offers 1276 litres of luggage space.
All of the rear seats are reasonably easy to fold down or remove but even with the second row of seats in place, the luggage area is still enormous. There are also ample cupholders and storage pockets.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The engine is an obvious standout; a 4.5 litre, twin-turbo V8 diesel with 195kW of power. It is effortless on road, and capable of a surprising turn of speed.
Such is its grunt that towing - as attested by waves of nomads - barely taxes its power reserves.
The Sahara can easily trundle along at highway speeds in top gear, using the enormous 650Nm of torque to maintain momentum. It can, but sometimes, it doesn’t. We found the Sahara quite eager to kick-down a gear when it simply wasn’t necessary.
(You can overcome it by selecting “power” mode; then the transmission holds gears longer and is considerably more decisive.)
Toyota claims 10.3 l/100km, and our figure of 13.6 l/100km suggests that a sub-eleven fuel figure would certainly be possible when on the highway.
We must make mention here of the Sahara’s sheer size. It’s long, wide, heavy and tall, and on narrow multi-lane roads it pretty much consumes the entire lane.
If you step out of a small car and into this one, be prepared to allow some time to adjust. That said, it did pass the industry-standard “fast-food drive-thru” test, if only just.
Refinement: On the freeway, cruising along in sixth gear at low RPM is as relaxing as in any long-wheelbase sedan. There is minimal tyre noise and the V8 diesel is barely noticeable when not working hard.
Overall, despite that diesel in the nose and workhorse origins, noise, vibration and harshness, all those things that wear you down on a long drive, are very well damped
Suspension: The luxo Sahara has been set up with a preference for tarmac. It’s reasonably balanced on road and body-roll is not excessive, allowing for its size that is.
The steering doesn’t involve the workout that you may expect either. Although the steering wheel is proportional to the size of the car (large), you don’t get the feeling that you are driving a Kenworth.
But reverse into a parking space and you will notice every inch of that massive body. That’s when the numerous cameras come in handy.
Braking: The Sahara has 340mm ventilated discs on the front and 345mm ventilated discs on the rear.
The fact that the rear brakes are larger than the front gives you some idea of the effort required to bring the 2720Kg kerb weight under control (apart from the towing advantage it offers). But the brakes manage quite well, and the nose doesn’t dive too much under heavier braking.
We took the Sahara through grassy plains, creek crossings, over fallen branches and across moguls. At no point was the four-wheel-drive system seriously challenged.
Tackling a rocky climb is simply a matter of letting the V8 diesel idle up and over in first gear.
The width of the Sahara makes for a few tight spots when negotiating narrow tracks; the electric folding mirrors came in handy at that point.
In low-range 4WD, the Sahara gives the driver a choice of five driving modes; rock, rock and dirt, mogul, loose rock and finally mud and sand. Wherever you find yourself, it is effortless in either.
ANCAP rating: 5 Stars
Safety features: Standard features include ten airbags (including driver’s and front passenger’s knee airbags), ABS brakes with brake force distribution and brake assist, traction and stability control, three-point seatbelts and adjustable head restraints for all seats, plus height-adjustable belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters for front seats
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service costs: All Landcruiser 200 Series models currently get capped-price servicing (capped at $210) for up to six standard scheduled services
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Nissan Patrol Ti-L ($113,900 plus on-road costs). The top-of-the-range large Nissan SUV costs $6,000 less than the Sahara. It also gets an extra forward ratio, with a seven-speed automatic instead of six.
Like the Toyota, the Patrol comes well-equipped but the major difference – and it is significant – is it can only be bought with a 5.6 litre V8 petrol engine, with no diesel option. (see Patrol reviews)
Range Rover HSE ($143,569 / $168,900 plus on-road costs). Only the cheapest of the Range Rovers comes close to the price of the Sahara, but the RR stable is a benchmark in premium SUV motoring.
With this HSE spec, you will have to make-do with the twin-turbo V6 diesel, but it produces an impressive 600Nm of torque and combined fuel figure of just 7.5 lt/100Km. (see Range Rover reviews)
Toyota LandCruiser Prado Kakadu ($91,490 plus on-road costs). There is every argument that the Sahara’s little bro’ in the Prado range will do the same job as the Sahara – but for $20,000 less.
Like the Sahara, it is chock-full of luxury and, despite a smaller diesel, has arguably even more ability off-road.
While the Kakadu is by no means small, it is at least smaller than the Sahara. (see Prado reviews)
Note: All prices are Manufacturer’s List Price unless stated otherwise and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
A test drive of the LandCruiser Sahara will have you questioning how you ever did without a moon roof, chilled centre console and all of the other toys.
But all this luxury comes at a price. When it’s time to open the wallet, the question might easily become “what can I live without…” After all, the 200GX with the same potent V8 is nearly $40k less.
If your sole purpose is to go off-road, there are plenty of cheaper (and smaller) options than the Sahara that won’t make quite such a hole in the budget.
But for the best of everything in a very large and very powerful SUV – and you don’t want to spend Range Rover money – you will find Toyota’s Sahara most satisfactory.
At the wheel it makes you feel like king-of-the-road.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- LandCruiser 200 GX - 4.5 V8 Diesel - $78,990
- LandCruiser 200 GXL - 4.6 V8 Petrol - $84,990
- LandCruiser 200 GXL - 4.5 V8 Diesel - $89,990
- LandCruiser 200 VX - 4.6 V8 Petrol - $95,990
- LandCruiser 200 VX - 4.5 V8 Diesel - $100,990
- LandCruiser 200 Sahara - 4.6 V8 Petrol - $114,990
- LandCruiser 200 Sahara - 4.5 V8 Diesel - $119,990