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The Toyota LandCruiser is one of Australia’s automotive icons. Since the LandCruiser wagon arrived Down Under it has built a massive following with a foundation of fiercely loyal owners. It’s a car that brings people together, a car that removes the lines of social class.
In some parts of Australia, saying you own a LandCruiser means you’ve made it. It’s a statement that symbolises a just reward for hard work. Sometimes, cars just ain’t cars. In the case of the LandCruiser, there’s a real aura that surrounds the nameplate. To many, it’s a desirable car and one people will often save their money for. Saving is something people used to do in order to purchase something they wanted. A trend that might find its way back.
In modern Australia, where badge credibility is an ever-increasing phenomenon, there’s something reassuring to be found in Toyota’s success. Toyota has been known to sell a few cars, the HiLux and Corolla continue to hit new levels of popularity, but nothing better represents what Toyota is all about than the LandCruiser.
As the 2017 LandCruiser 200 sits at the top of the tree in Toyota’s range, it’s price is commensurate with its status. It is in no way cheap. To own the legend in the GXL trim level we are testing here you’ll be parting with $88,830, plus on-road costs. On the flip side, the GXL diesel is the pick of the range if you’re shopping value instead of price.
It’s hard to believe the 200 Series LandCruiser was originally released in 2007. In motoring terms, that’s old. The exterior design has held up well. Let’s face it, the LandCruiser 200 is extremely distinctive in its styling and proportions, it will never be mistaken for anything else.
Climbing into the cabin, which will be a major undertaking for some, reveals a very dated interior that’s in dire need of a visit from Shaynna Blaze.
The material on the seats feels two decades out of date. At this price, a better alternative needs to be found. The command centre layout with its small infotainment screen isn’t one of Toyota’s better efforts.
Like the current Prado, the LandCruiser GXL is missing Toyota’s 4.2-inch display screen that should be housed in the instrument cluster. Amazingly, there’s no average fuel consumption readout either, unforgivable in this day and age.
It’s hard to shake the feeling that in a styling and design sense, the interior’s best days are long gone.
While its interior styling is underwhelming, the LandCruiser cabin offers acres of space. The massive exterior means there is an abundance of room on the inside. The second-row legroom is exceptional. Even the third row is rather roomy.
What you’re paying for is capability and what rests under the hood. In this case, there’s a 4.5-litre V8 turbo-diesel that develops 200kW of power and 650Nm of torque. It’s a refined engine that easily moves the car’s massive body around. It’s a beautifully smooth oiler that promptly delivers torque.
In the GXL, the big diesel is paired with a very competent 6-speed automatic that sends power to all four wheels.
If you are located in a built-up area and you’re thinking the LandCruiser is a good option for a daily driver, forget it. Five minutes of driving through Melbourne’s CBD is a remarkably eye-opening experience. This is a car that doesn’t feel comfortable in the confines of city traffic. Simply put, it’s just too big. At this stage of the drive, I was struggling to get the lyrics of ‘Don't Fence Me In' out of my head.
Head for the Prado if you have your heart set on a big Toyota but reside in the city, it’s a much better alternative.
To take advantage of what the LandCruiser offers, you need to seek some wide open spaces and dirt.
Cruising up the Hume highway, the car is in its element. The LandCruiser’s reputation as a brilliant long-distance hauler is perfectly legitimate. It’s a stellar choice if continent-crossing is on your agenda.
As a consequence of its size and high level refinement, at 110km/h the Cruiser feels like it’s trapped in slow motion. With an engine that never feels under stress and a chassis tune that brings a new meaning to the term stable, this is a big brute that never feels in a hurry.
Although dual-cab utes are now a very popular choice for those wanting to tow a caravan or trailer, the LandCruiser matches the 3500kg towing capacity. The dual-cab option is a good one from a value perspective, however, there’s no ute that can deliver the same level of ride comfort.
Back in the day, off-road was where the LandCruiser legend was born. Even now, the promise of go anywhere versatility while maintaining a reasonably high level of composure remains appealing.
Put the LandCruiser 200 on a heavily corrugated country track and it absorbs the majority of lumps and bumps easily.
In factory spec, there’s 230mm of ground clearance to play with which allows plenty of flexibility across a wider variety of surfaces.
Being an off-road specialist, during our assessment week, we subjected the LandCruiser to two off-road tests. It was somewhat fortuitous to have the opportunity to expose the car to both wet and dry off-road conditions.
In the bush, along the Goulburn River near Murchison in central Victoria, the LandCruiser was able to deliver. It’s ability to climb and descend steep slopes is remarkable for its size.
When conditions require some additional expertise, it’s simply a case of selecting low range. Regardless of how much mud, dirt or sand we encountered, the wheels didn’t lose traction.
The drivetrain is absolutely outstanding when you get the car off-road. The engine is an absolute ball-tearer. The availability of so much low down torque keeps the Cruiser hammering along. This is where the LandCruiser's full character is on display. Negotiating the difficult conditions was so effortless, it was almost comical.
This is an example of a car with a reputation that’s deserved, it’s not just clever marketing spin, it’s the real McCoy.
In the absence of a fuel consumption readout, there was no choice but to take the old-school approach and utilise scientific theory and mathematical equation to work out the magic number. At the week’s conclusion, the LandCruiser GXL consumed 11.2L/100km. It’s higher than the official combined figure, but it’s impressive for a car of these proportions and in line with the driving conditions.
The GXL is the model that will appeal to families, it’s the sensible pick. With this in mind, it’s disappointing the full array of safety features are reserved for the top-spec Sahara variant which is over $30,000 more.
We continue to be frustrated by Toyota’s 6-month/10,000km service intervals. However, in the case of the LandCruiser 200, if the car is worked hard, regularly towing and off-roading, the set intervals are appropriate. The first six services are capped at $280 a visit.
For a car with the pedigree of the LandCruiser, the three-year/100,000km warranty is grossly inadequate. It’s time to kick it up a notch.
As a package, the LandCruiser 200 stands alone, it has no genuine competitors. Sure the Nissan Patrol is a rival on paper, but it doesn’t carry anywhere near the same level of history and credibility out in the bush. In central Queensland, where I hail from, the Patrol is often berated as a ‘LandCruiser for losers’. A Range Rover or a Discovery offers proper off-road capability with considerably more luxury, but both are substantially more expensive and don’t offer anywhere near the same level of dealer network support. When travelling around rural and remote Australia, Land Rover dealerships are as rare as shark shit.
Despite being the value standout in the LandCruiser range, the GXL is missing some features buyers should expect in a vehicle of this price and its interior is in need of an update. These flaws won't deter the enthusiasm of those who covert the LandCruiser.
The LandCruiser 200 is a car that balances on-road comfort and off-road capability with ease. If you regularly need to conquer large distances of highway, dreadful rural roads or fancy an expedition off-road, the LandCruiser shouldn’t be seen as a jack of all these trades, it’s the king.
2017 Toyota LandCruiser 200 GXL Specifications
Price from $88,830, plus on-road costs Engine 4.5L V8 turbo-diesel Power 200kW @ 3,600rpm Torque 650Nm @ 1,600rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 9.5L/100km Tank Capacity 93L main tank + 45L auxiliary tank Length 4,990mm Width 1,980mm Height 1,945mm Wheelbase 2,850mm Kerb Weight 2,740kg Ground Clearance 230mm Turning Circle 11.8m Wading Depth 700mm Service Intervals 6-months or 10,000km Warranty three year/100,000 kilometre
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