Toyota Landcruiser: Go big or go home

landcruiserWhat is it?

The Landcruiser 200 range comprises four models: GX, GXL and VX with the Sahara at the top.

They’re all big, boofy, and brash, and drive well on and off the black-top, with a 60th anniversary Horizon model that celebrates 60 years of the marque in this country.

There is a new model on the way, called the 300 Series, however an ETA and confirmation of its specifications are yet to be confirmed.

We drove the VX on a huge country loop last year; the GXL gets a suburban drive this time around, with a little bit of off-roading.


What’s it cost?

Prices start at $80,190 plus on roads for the GX.

GXL is $91,890, VX $102,590, Sahara $123,590 and Horizon $129,090.

That’s a fair amount of coin, but it’s a fair amount of car.

For starters, it occupies about the same amount of space as the NASA rocket assembly building.

It stares down Chuck Norris, and shrugs off attempts by the Borg to assimilate it.

Yes, the Landcruiser is that big and that tough that the only thing that can touch it are the brand’s own designers.

What we currently have is something just under five metres long, and a whisker under two metres high and wide.

A dry weight of 2.7 tonnes makes for a hefty amount of ‘veehickle’ to move too.

Our vehicle came with a snorkel attached and fitment for a towbar.

Side steps are also standard and are metal underneath, making them tougher than some near-sized pretenders with plastic steps.

The current design has a bluff and brash nose, slim-line headlights with LED low beam, and a chromed strip that runs underneath each front light and encircles the grille.

In profile it has some subtle curves to the flanks, with a split-fold tailgate. 

Open that up and it reveals a pair of horizontal folding seats a la the Fortuner Crusade that we drove recently.

These are somewhat easier to latch and unlatch, with separate pull hooks on the seats and inside the cabin.

There’s an old school CD player and that’s a good thing, because not everyone likes or knows how to use a smartphone for audio, and a CD is still the purest form of digital sound delivery.

In terms of comfort, cloth wraps the seats in the GXL. Not only are they snug and comfortable, they negate the need for heating and venting — and are easier to keep clean.

There’s a dual zone climate control system, with vents and controls for the middle and rear rows.

These work just fine, and the controls are typically Toyota in ease of use.

That goes for pretty much everything except for DAB audio controls.

Digital radio is broken down into channels and has stations grouped within those channels.

To find a digital station should be as easy as hitting the tune button.

Not here.

Head over to something from Korea, and the simplicity factor skyrockets . . . Humph!

The screen isn’t that big either. At 6.1 inches it is perhaps the smallest part of such a big machine. Even the tyres are big at 285/65 and wrap simple five spoke alloys.

There’s no shortage of leg and shoulder room, and even in the third row there’s little to quibble about.

Safety, though, isn’t quite up to speed in the GXL.

The Sahara comes with Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Safety System with pedestrian detection, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Active Cruise Control.

The GXL doesn’t have any of these. There is a Reverse Camera, front and rear park sensors, Hill Start Assist Control, driver’s knee bag, and first row and second row curtain airbags.

2020_Toyota_Landcruiser_200_GXL (12)

What’s it go like?

It’s the same drive-line as the VX that we drove.

That means a 4.5-litre diesel, and 650Nm of torque, with straight line squirt that will frighten people who don’t expect a block of flats on wheels to hustle so indecently.

Plant the hoof and the GXL simply reels in the horizon without fuss. There is a grumble from the V8, a snarl and rasp from the air intake snorkel just outside the driver’s right ear — and woosh. 

Economy isn’t its strong point though, with the number 15 featuring heavily in the litres per 100 kilometres conversation.

But when there is a total fuel capacity of 138 litres, split between a 93-litre main and 45-litre sub tank, the economy conversation becomes a short one anyway.

The auto is a six speed only, and that’s part of the reason why the GXL drinks harder than a pooch after a good run.

Smooth, yes. Free from clunks and shunts, yes — but it needs two extra cogs to be a competitor nowadays.

For all of its technical shortcomings in this respect, it really does get and boogie when asked.

It steers almost as well, with the system well set to deal with tarmac driving and those big footprints from the rubber.

There’s a little bit of effort required to move the tiller but the rack ratio allows for good enough response.

Where the GXL needs an upgrade is in the stoppers.

The discs are family pizza sized at 340mm and 345mm, but there’s just not enough bite and retardation to instil a true sense of confidence.

A good press of the brake pedal feels like it is squeezing not gripping, but on a wet road, a near three-tone machine needs better.

We did get a chance to trial the GXL on a small off-road section.

The car is full time four wheel drive and simply requires a twist of the dial to be put in low range.

Landcruiser has a solid off-road reputation and this is borne out by the GXL.

It simply crawls over and through terrain as easily as a Corolla takes Grandad to the bowlo on a Saturday morning.


What we like?

  • Imposing presence matched by imposing performance
  • Impressive get up and go
  • Big size outside translates into big space inside


What we don’t like?

  • Brakes lack confidence
  • Weight is a problem
  • Six-cogger auto is a bit archaic
  • Safety features are lacking


The bottom line?

It’s big, it’s boofy and it’s fun.

It’s a little bit like the cartoon version of Lenny from Walt Disney; amiable, gentle, and just a bit silly.

It has legendary off-road cred, some awesome straight line oomph, and doesn’t take no for an answer in the “Will you take crap from a Nissan’s Patrol” stakes.

The 300 Series, however, will have a lot to live up to, and it needs to step up in the tech department.

But, from what we understand, a hybrid drivetrain is in the offing.

A weight loss regime and updates to Toyota’s basic safety and human interface features are also needed.

For now, though, the 200 Series GXL and its siblings still rule the roost for big 4WD style vehicles.


CHECKOUT: Toyota LandCruiser: What’s a little pressure?

CHECKOUT: How a dozen LandCruisers became 1 million


Toyota Land Cruiser GXL, priced from $91,890
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 6/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7.5/10