Truck, ute, pick-up, fourbie… It doesn’t matter what you call it, there’s little chance of confusion when it comes to the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series' role in life - this big unit is built to work.
Sure, when ordered in the top-line GXL spec you see here, the big 'Cruiser picks up wheel arch flares, wide alloys and plenty of chrome, so it’s a little bit more show pony, but underneath it all the barely-changed-in-thirty-years LandCruiser is as hardworking as ever.
And as a dual cab it’s truly unique. You can buy a Nissan Patrol, or spend almost double on a Mercedes-Benz G-Class Professional and both are as action-ready as the LandCruiser, but neither comes as a dual-cab, nor can they be ‘specced-up’ like the flasher GXL Cruiser.
Vehicle Style: 4x4 dual cab ute
Price: $68,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 151kW/430Nm 4.5-litre 8cyl turbo diesel | 5sp manual
Fuel Economy Claimed: 10.7 l/100km | Tested: 13.8 l/100km
The LandCruiser is an off-road icon. Now that Land Rover has wrapped up production of the Defender, and Mercedes-Benz is preparing to pull the pin on the G-Class (well, passenger versions, at least) the LandCruiser 70 Series - which has steadily evolved since debuting in 1984 - is the next in line to wear the production-record title of the longest-running vehicle.
Of course the current Cruiser bears little resemblance to the original as there is a wider cabin, styling changes, turbo diesel V8 power, and more have been added. Heck, the GXL even comes with cloth trim and carpet flooring, something unheard of when the all-vinyl original debuted.
The dual-cab variant is also a more recent addition, and came into being under pressure from Australia, one of the key 70 Series’ key markets, joining the single-cab, troop carrier, and wagon variants for Toyota’s fullest LandCruiser range yet.
Dual-cab buyers can choose from the bare-bones Workmate, starting from $61,990 (plus on-road costs) or the more lavishly equipped GXL which ups the comfort and convenience features without ditching the rough-and-rugged capability, from $68,990 (plus on-road costs).
- Standard Equipment: Fabric seat trim, carpet flooring, remote central locking, power windows, front bucket seats, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, front fog lights, front wheel arch flares, Chrome grille and front bumper, 16-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: AM/FM radio, power antenna, USB and Aux input, MP3 compatible, CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, two-speaker audio
- Options Fitted: Air Conditioning $2761, steel tray POA depending on specification
- Load Area Dimensions: Load area dimensions may vary depending on tray specifications.
The interior of the LC70 ute is almost all work and no play - the commercial vehicle origins are very obvious - and while the smaller HiLux might add fancy trinkets like climate control air conditioning and touchscreen navigation the LandCruiser does not.
In fact, air conditioning is an option, the radio is a traditional push-button type, and the ventilation controls are the same as they were in 1984.
GXL additions include a power antenna, cloth seat trim, power windows (but no quarter vent windows), remote central locking, variable intermittent wipers, front fog lights, front wheel arch extensions and 16x7-inch alloy wheels over the Workmate’s 16x6-inch steelies.
Owing to its massive size, clambering into the 70 Series involves a big step up, but assist-grips on the A-pillar make things easier. The front seats aren’t overly wide, but the fairly flat shape fits most sizes just fine.
Adjustment is basic, fore-aft slide, backrest angle, and headrest height. That’s it. There’s no seat height or lumbar adjustment. Somehow the seats seem pretty comfortable on long runs, certainly more comfy than I remember the old 75 Series being in the mid 1990s… Must be that fancy fabric trim.
Rear seat passengers get a decent amount of space too, and the rear seat can be folded to accept cargo in place of passengers. It’s an upright perch when in place, but is plenty wide enough to take three along for the ride without too much fuss.
Cabin storage is a little weak; there’s a cup holder and notepad/mobile phone holder ahead of the gear lever, slim door pockets, and a small glovebox. If you need more than that it might be worth adding an aftermarket overhead console. That said, there’s options aplenty to install extra radio comms equipment and plenty of switch blanks for ancillary switch gear if you need to add lights, sirens, trailer brakes or other equipment.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 4.5 litre single-turbo diesel V8, 151kW @3400rpm, 430Nm @1200rpm
- Transmission: Five-speed manual, low range 4x4
- Suspension: Front and rear live axles, front coil springs, rear leaf springs
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, 322mm front discs, 312mm rear discs
- Steering: Hydraulic power steering
- Towing Capacity: 3500kg braked, 750kg
First things first, there’s an elephant in the Toyota room, and it’s called the HiLux. For over ten grand less you could get an SR5 Hilux with an auto and a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel that produces slightly less power, but more torque (130kW and 450Nm).
Why opt for the 4.5 litre V8 LandCruiser and its 151kW and 430Nm then? Because the darn thing is so under-stressed that it’ll be able to work its arse off day-in, day-out without complaint. Not only that but the Cruiser’s peak torque comes in at 1200rpm, versus 1600rpm for the HiLux and fully laden, or in tricky off-road situations, that’s a world of difference.
Toyota makes no bones about the LandCruiser’s work-focussed construction either, with heavy section chassis rails, live front and rear axles (coils up front, leafs at the rear), and standard diff locks on the GXL being just some of the heavy duty features over smaller dual-cab 4x4s.
Despite the hardcore underpinnings, the LandCruiser isn’t such a terrible thing to navigate in town - the V8 diesel picks-up smartly, and the super-assisted steering makes the requisite tight-quarters steering easy to bear.
Even ride quality is decent for something that owes more to light trucks than SUVs, and with a load in the tray that barely changed.
The five-speed gearbox is another heavy duty item, deliberately kept to five forward gears and not six in the interests of service life. You won’t rush shifts in this box, and first gear is so low that you’ll probably only need it on steep inclines or when loaded up.
Low range is engaged via a separate transfer case lever, which is occasionally reluctant to engage, but will play ball with patience.
As it stands, the Cruiser can just about go further off-road in two wheel drive than most utes could in four-wheel drive, but select low range and the big bugger will pick its way up rock faces that look far too steep - and that’s in factory standard form, before adding more serious off-road tyres or lift kits.
There’s no advanced off-road features, like hill descent control or multi-mode stability assistance, but hill start assist makes moving off uphill easier at least, and the long travel clutch and brake pedals are just right for modulating progress while picking through rough terrain, there’s also an idle-up button to keep revs from dropping too low.
Of course, tough-as-nails constructions means there’s some not very car-like side effects, as there’s plenty of engine vibration and noise when you peg the throttle, making the gear lever wobblemas the driveline moves under load, and road and wind noise are substantial at freeway speeds. But that’s just part of the package with something as rugged as a Cruiser.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - Single cab versions of the LandCruiser scored 35.75 out of 37 possible points when tested in 2016. Wagon and dual cab versions do not share the same safety features and have not been tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Two airbags (driver and passenger), ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, three-point sealbelts in outboard seats (lap-only belt in rear seat middle position), front seatbelt pretensioners, electronic stability and traction control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Servicing: The LandCruiser sticks with short-cycle 6month/10,000km service intervals. Toyota Service Advantage capped-price servicing last three years or 60,000km (whichever occurs first) with a $340 per service price. Outside of the TSA program service costs can soar (as high as $1049.31 for the two year/40,000km service) so it’s best to discuss the terms, conditions and requirements of the program with your toyota dealer so as not to get caught out.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Nissan is the only other manufacturer that offers a tough-as-nails workhorse like the LandCruiser, but the Patrol comes only as a single cab
If size matters, not to mention towing capacity, then an imported American pickup with a right hand drive conversion might be the way to go - though the pricing is astronomical in comparison. Think Ram 2500 (by American Special Vehicles), or Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, or even a Toyota Tundra (by Performax International)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Australia’s far-reaching outback communities are teaming with LandCruisers, and it’s no secret why. After three decades on and off outback roads the 70 Series cruiser is still going strong with some of those original examples having passed the half-million kilometre mark.
No, it isn’t flash (well, the dressed-up GXL is a little bit), but it gets the job done. Stronger and tougher than just about any other ute on the road, the LandCruiser 70 Series meets a very real need in Australia.
City motorists probably don’t ‘get it’ as time and time again the LandCruiser gets labelled “archaic”, “a dinosaur” and “overpriced” but ask anyone who uses one as it is intended and they’re sure to disagree. No it may not be modern, it might lack some creature comforts, and you might buy more for less and still be able to get away for the weekend in a HiLux or similar.
But every time a ‘regular’ dual-cab ute gets an upgrade, and moves to more car-like suspension, or smaller capacity more high-tech engines, Australia’s most rugged outposts miss out. Though it might be little changed from its debut, the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series ensures that vital market niche is met.
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