Beautifully equipped, nice to drive – Toyota’s best yet
Toyota’s first LandCruiser arrived more than 50 years ago and to be honest, was pretty basic.
Times certainly change and throughout the half-century evolution of the LandCruiser, Toyota has pretty much dominated our local 4WD wagon market.
The latest generation 200 Series ‘Cruiser is available with a choice of three model grades, two V8 engines (turbo-diesel and petrol).
Australia is the world’s largest LandCruiser market, accounting for more than one in 10 ever built. And LandCruiser buyers are very loyal with two out three sold to current ‘Cruiser customers upgrading – the highest of any Toyota model.
What You Get
Car Showroom tested the range-topping eight-seat V8 turbo-diesel Sahara model. It’s equipment list is comprehensive with a capital ‘C’ – including leather seats, a reversing camera, satellite navigation, nine-speaker audio system, four-zone climate-controlled air-conditioning, coolbox, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment and nice wood and leather for the steering wheel and gear-shift lever.
Like all LandCruiser models, the Sahara is full-time 4WD and has a long list of standard safety features (range-topping Sahara and VX models have 10 airbags).
Under The Hood
Toyota’s 4.5-litre twin-turbo, multi-valve, direct injection V8 diesel is mightily impressive with 195kW of power and a massive 650Nm of torque. It combines with a superb six-speed automatic transmission to give the LandCruiser plenty of performance both on and off-road.
The V8 petrol engine delivers 202kW/410Nm and drives through a five-speed transmission.
On the road in the diesel, we were impressed with the refinement of the drivetrain and its responsiveness – a real achievement in a vehicle that weighs 2675kgs.
Not quite a Lexus LX570, the LandCruiser Sahara still presents excellent luxury credentials in its interior styling and appointments. For starters the smell of all that leather when you first climb in is certainly alluring.
The second row seat slides in a range of 105mm for extra legroom, offers a 40:20:40 split and a one-touch tumble feature to maximize luggage carrying capacity.
Toyota’s touch-screen navigation system is one of the most user-friendly in our experience and the nine-speaker audio system comprises a six-in-dash CD/DVD player with MP3 capability and Bluetooth functionality.
The nicely-finished four-spoke leather/wood steering wheel has switches for audio, display, telephone and voice recognition functions.
Electronic adjustment for the front seats affords a comfortable driving position.
Clever packaging has contributed to even more interior space – up by some 130mm over the predecessor. Space between the seats is greater than the previous model and there is also an extra 50mm in the cargo area.
Exterior & Styling
An all-new model, the 200 Series styling is evolutionary not revolutionary with styling changes that give the ‘Cruiser a more contemporary look but with the same muscly on-road presence. Modern taillights and a more aerodynamic front end are the most obvious changes.
It looks bigger, but the 2850mm wheelbase is actually them same as its predecessor and the new body shell is only 60mm longer and 30mm wider.
A new, stronger frame and reinforced upper body structure deliver improved passive safety and durability. Greater pedestrian safety has been paramount in the design changes.
Sahara and VX models are distinguished externally by standard matt metallic side steps.
On The Road
Toyota has done a great job with the enhanced refinement levels and smooth on-road dynamics of the ‘Cruiser. The turbo-diesel V8 is superb.
Combine that powerplant with the excellent ratios of the six-speed auto with artificial intelligence control (predicts the driver’s intention) and the result is an almost-three-tonne SUV with excellent response, particularly in the mid-range when driving in traffic.
Cornering is noticeably flatter than previous LandCruiser models thanks to a new Australian-invented Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) which is optional on GXL turbo-diesel models but standard on others. KDSS has hydraulic cylinders fitted on front and rear anti-roll bars to suppress body roll.
If you tow a trailer, you’ll find the ‘Cruiser ideally suited to the task – the Toyota towbar is integrated and capacity is rated at 3500kgs.
Toyota says fuel consumption is 10.8l/100kms.
Naturally in off-road conditions, the ‘Cruiser has everything you need including Hill-Start-Control and Descent Control. Wheel articulation is excellent and the approach angle is 30 degrees, ramp-over angle is 25 degrees and the departure angle is 20 degrees. New in the 200 Series is a Torsen limited slip center differential.
From the safety viewpoint there’s all-terrain ABS, Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control.
Size is the only challenge those not familiar with vehicles of this type will encounter. Pleasingly the LandCruiser Sahara comes with Toyota’s excellent reversing camera with guidance lines showing on the center console screen.
LandCruiser’s awesome reputation amongst full-size SUVs is no fluke and the latest 200 Series is a winner. The Sahara is priced at $110,990 - that’s still a long way short of the Lexus LX570 (only available with the petrol V8) but the Sahara boasts an impressive array of luxury features that must make it a tough decision for those buying in that league.
While GXL LandCruisers take-on Nissan Patrol and Mitsubishi Pajero, the Sahara’s features list and pricing moves into the territory of Range Rover, Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 where you have to consider different engine types as well.
For example, the Q7 only has one diesel and it’s a 3.0-litre V6 (RRP $88,542). For the V10 Touareg you’re looking at $121,990 while the V8 turbo-diesel Rangie Sport goes for $118,900.
The eight-seat capacity of the Sahara is also a consideration.
Well equipped; beautiful drivetrain; goes well off-road; towing capacity
Size could be an issue for city slickers