The Land Cruiser (aka LandCruiser) wagon first chiseled its way into the Australian psyche during the development of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme in the 1950s.
Now, 60 years later, the latest version of the iconic Toyota 4×4, the 300 Series, hangs on firmly to its exalted position in the pantheon of the large off-roader, paralleling a Henry Moore statue in the art world.
There’s still a local link, with the owners of the upper-end variants able to take advantage of Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system, which was developed Down Under with reference to Australian widely varying on and off-road conditions.
The new Land Cruiser also includes two new flagship variants, with the luxury Sahara ZX and off-road-focused GR Sport joining the core GX, GXL, VX and Sahara.
Major upgrades include a new 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel engine, a new exterior design underpinned by the Toyota New Global Architecture platform and advanced driver assistance technologies to provide superb on-road performance and unmatched off-road capability.
What’s it cost?
Prices range from $89,990, plus on-road costs for the entry-level GX and top out at $138,790 for the Sahara ZX.
Premium paint is a $675 add-on. The GXL on test tips the scales into six figures at $101,790.
For the first time on Land Cruiser, the Toyota Service Advantage has been extended from three years/60,000km to five years/100,000km, providing customers with capped-price servicing for their first 10 services at $375 each.
Intervals are every six months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.
Owners are able to extend their warranty on the engine and driveline to seven years by sticking to the service schedule.
Newly constructed from the ground up, the 300 Series extends Land Cruiser’s long-standing statuesque stance in the big 4×4 market segment, combining trademark features with new, powerful styling.
From the front, new Land Cruiser pays homage to its heritage through its wide, horizontal grille, flanked by slimline headlights, both set higher than the previous model to avoid damage when off road. The front bumper is more rounded.
In profile the cabin is set further back in line with early generations of the vehicle, the rear bumper curves more steeply upwards to improve off-road ability, while the whole rear end is tapered for better aerodynamics.
The rear lights are arranged horizontally, with a one-piece tailgate. Bonnet, roof, doors and rear hatch are all aluminium to save weight.
GXL rolls on unique 18-inch six-spoke alloy wheels.
Information and entertainment are provided by a 9.0-inch display with a six-speaker audio system.
The new multimedia system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and features Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio and voice recognition.
Sadly, satnav and CD/DVD are absent from GXL while all variants bar the entry-level GX feature Qi wireless phone charging. Two USB terminals and a 12V socket allow further charging options.
All Land Cruisers take in the latest Toyota Safety Sense technologies including autonomous emergency braking pre-collision safety with daytime cyclist and oncoming vehicle detection, night-time pedestrian detection, intersection turn assist and steering assist.
Active cruise control now offers curve speed reduction, while road sign assist, and on VX grades and above, lane trace assist with steering wheel vibration, have been introduced for the first time.
Other safety features on all grades include automatic high beam, reversing camera and 10 airbags.
New Toyota Connected Services offers enhanced safety and security with automatic assistance in the event of an emergency, and vehicle tracking if the car is stolen.
What’s it go like?
All variants are powered by a new-generation 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel engine producing 227kW at 4000 rpm and 700Nm from 1600 to 2600 rpm, a 27kW/50Nm increase over the V8 it replaces.
The V6 is mated with a segment-first 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
Thanks to its new-generation engine, intelligent transmission and weight-saving measures, fuel economy, says Toyota, has reduced by 6.3 per cent on the combined cycle compared with the outgoing V8 — to 8.9L/100km.
The test vehicle recorded 11.7L/100km in city and suburbs, and 5.7L/100km on the open road.
The two-way turbocharging of the new 227kW/700Nm V6 ensures smooth and efficient power delivery. At low speed, the primary turbocharger is engaged for responsive power delivery.
As engine speed increases, the second turbocharger is activated to deliver optimal power and torque with smooth acceleration. Both turbos have been designed to maximise low-speed torque, perfect for off-roading or towing.
The 300 Series retains the Land Cruiser’s 3500kg braked towing capacity, offering effortless towing thanks to a combination of greater torque, the sophisticated 10-speed transmission and a stronger, more stable chassis.
A tow wiring harness is also now offered as standard, making the process of connecting a trailer easier than ever.
Multi-Terrain Select features six different modes for off-road terrain – five in high range and four in low range – for ultimate traction in the harshest conditions.
Developed extensively in Australia, MTS offers dirt, sand, mud, deep snow, rock and new auto modes, the last able to intelligently sense the terrain underfoot and adapt the traction control systems accordingly.
Combining with MTS is a low-speed crawl control function and multi-terrain monitor system which provides 360-degree and underfloor views of the path and approaching obstacles.
Along with the significant upgrade in features and technology, the Land Cruiser’s cabin has been extensively soundproofed to ensure occupants travel in quiet comfort, while the top of the console box, driver and front passenger knee airbags and lower length on the centre console are all upholstered in soft-touch materials.
The GXL test car joins the flagship VX and Sahara in offering seating for seven occupants.
The third row makes room for 1004 litres of luggage and seating for five when it is stowed away in the floor, with up to 1967 litres with both rear rows folded.
Storage includes a dual-opening centre console storage box, centre storage tray/box, overhead sunglasses holder, glovebox and a range of door bins and cupholders capable of holding 750ml bottles.
What we like?
Warranty extended to 5 years/100,000km
7 years if you stick to the service schedule
Autonomous emergency braking
Segment-first 10-speed torque converter auto
6.3 per cent reduction in fuel consumption
Cabin has been extensively soundproofed
7 -seater (third row stows in floor)
What we don’t like?
GXL misses out on satnav
CD/DVD absent from GXL
Service intervals every six months/10,000km
The bottom line?
Fans of the V8 might be disappointed at the demise of the big block, but the V6 twin-turbo replacement figures – more power, more torque, less fuel – go a long way to standing up for the newbie’s case.