Built to go where the roads don’t

Riley Riley

What is it?

Toyota’s tough as nails workhorse 4WD.

This is the one farmers buy to do all the heavy lifting around their place.

They tend to hang on to them for a bit, so they’ve got to be built tough to go the distance.

My old mate Reg had a 70 Series, though it wasn’t one of the new ones.

He built a cage with seats for the tray and used to take the kids for rides when they were little.

Poor bugger was killed when he rolled his quad on a wombat hole (now I know why he never bloody liked them).

Toyota rejigged its workhorse model a couple of years back to make it safer, earning five stars for safety in the process — at least for the basic model anyway.

Land Rover couldn’t get its Defender across the line and was forced to go back to the drawing board – we’re yet to see a new Defender.


What’s it cost?

Prices for 70 Series start at $63,740 for the wagon, $65,240 for the single cab-chassis, $67,640 for the troop carrier, or $67,740 for the dual cab-chassis.

There’s three grades: Workmate, GL and GLX, with the top of the line GXL double cab-chassis going for $71,740.

By the way you can’t get the troopie with seats down either side anymore.

Believe it or not these prices exclude air conditioning which costs another $2800 and, if you’re looking at the cab-chassis, don’t forget to factor in a tray for the back – they’re not standard either.

Diff locks — we’ll get to them later — are $1500 a pop (standard on GXL).

Our test vehicle was the top of the line, five seat GXL double cab with a 5-speed manual. There is no auto.

All versions of the 70 Series are now fitted with vehicle stability control (VSC), active traction control (A-TRC), hill-start assist control (HAC), brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.

Cruise control by the way is now standard for those long boring runs into the big smoke.



What’s it go like?

Think truck.

It’s big and heavy and at times ponderous.

Motivation comes from a 4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel that pushes out 151kW of power and 430Nm of torque, the latter from a super low 1200 revs.

The gearing is very low, the change can’t be rushed and as a result the 70 Series is slow off the mark which is not going to win you any friends in the push and shove of Sydney traffic.

The trick is to get out of first gear quickly, or try to avoid it all together and go straight to second.

Add to this dull, lifeless steering and a huge turning circle, and it can be a real pain in the bum to drive in and around town.

The steering wheel is both height and reach adjustable which you don’t often find in what is basically a commercial vehicle.

Hill Assist Control is designed to stop the vehicle rolling backwards on a hill for about two seconds when moving off.

It has no trouble doing 110km/h on the motorway but generates a lot of engine and wind noise in the process.

Off road it’s another story where the 70 Series is in its element.

And, unless the going gets really rough, you’ll rarely need to change into low range.

Of all the 4WDs we’ve driven over the years, the 70 Series stands out as the most capable.

It’s a part time 4×4 system, so you’ll need to physically change into four wheel drive using the tiny transfer lever.

This can only be done where there’s some give in the surface, not on dry bitumen because the wheels need some slippage to stop binding.

Ground clearance is up to 235mm depending on model while all versions have a wading depth of 700mm.

Add some diff locks front and back and this thing is virtually unstoppable, able to bump and grind it’s way up just about any bush track or fire trail — down too.

Toyota recognises the 70 Series is a vehicle that is frequently used off road.

In fact, it’s quite often driven where there are no roads at all, for example when it used for mine exploration or by farmers looking for livestock or mending remote fence lines.

Low range first gear slows the vehicle to a real crawl, to such an extent in fact that you could get out, have a pee and get back in without missing a beat.

Watch out for the tow bar however because it’s likely to bang on the way down unless you remove the hitch.

A-TRC, which eliminates the need for a limited-slip differential, operates in high and low ranges, but can be disengaged for sand.

With a 130-litre fuel tank (180 with the Troopie) fuel consumption is rated at 10.7L/100km.

Can’t tell you what we were getting, because the on-board computer doesn’t provide that info – in fact there is no on-board computer (but we’d expect 12-13L/100km).

In a concession to modern life, Bluetooth is provided but it seems to work only when the audio unit is actually switched on.


What we like?

  • Tough
  • Can’t kill it with a stick
  • Will go just about anywhere
  • Hose it out capability
  • Rated to tow 3500kg


What we don’t?

  • No auto
  • Poor turning circle
  • Vague lifeless steering
  • Manual adjust exterior mirrors
  • Doesn’t cope with traffic too well
  • High like a truck so it’s difficult to get in and out of
  • Lap belt for centre rear passenger


The bottom line?

This is a purpose built work vehicle, designed for extreme off road conditions and plenty of on the job abuse.

If this sounds like you that’s fine, but if it doesn’t then don’t expect some cosy SUV – that it is not!

It does however feels like a Rolls-Royce compared with the Defender.


Toyota 70 Series, priced from $65,240
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 8.0/10
  • Safety - 6.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.0/10
  • Practicality - 7.0/10
  • Comfort - 7.0/10
  • Tech - 7.0/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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