The 300 Series LandCruiser was one of the most anticipated arrivals in recent memory. New LandCruisers are rare beasts and this one had a very big change under the bonnet: the revered V8 gave way to a turbo V6.
The change doesn’t seem to have dented the ‘Cruiser’s popularity, but is it still king off the road?
Richard: We drove the GR Sport model, which is one of the more expensive versions at roughly $150,000 drive-away. For that money, I wasn’t blown away by the cabin. I was expecting Lexus-like finishes and materials. The two-tone leather seats with GR embossing on the headrests are a nice touch, but elsewhere it felt a little generic Toyota. It’s a handsome beast, though, with an imposing presence on the road.
David: It certainly is a formidable-looking machine, both inside and out. While the cabin’s design is busy, it feels more purposeful than the fake wood, shiny leather and dated velour of previous models. There’s a touch of Ford’s Ranger Raptor to the butch T-O-Y-O-T-A grille and blacked-out styling elements, though it looks a little under-tyred to my eyes, as though it should have bigger wheels.
The Living Space
Richard: There’s loads of room in the cabin – the second-row has limo-like leg and head room. Toyota has really thought out the details, too, from the charging points and storage bins to the cooled centre console. The LandCruiser might not have the digital driver displays of some rivals at this price, but everything is easy to navigate and logically laid-out. One question, though – where are the third-row seats?
David: I was surprised to see the GR Sport can only accommodate five people. This model has special off-road-features that add weight, which Toyota offset by deleting the extra pair of seats in the boot. That’s a big call, as many households will get more use out of seven-seat versatility than the electronically controlled sway bars and locking front and rear differentials found in the GR Sport. Most folks will spend more time on tar than dirt. How did you find its behaviour in town?
Richard: It really is a specialist vehicle. If you’re not going to do any heavy-duty off-roading or towing, then this isn’t the car for you. On the daily commute it feels unwieldy in traffic, especially on narrow city streets. You do feel bulletproof sitting up high in the cabin, though and it’s quiet and comfortable on the freeway. The suspension can wobble around a bit on pockmarked back roads.
David: It’s funny, the LandCruiser’s suspension makes light work of speed bumps or water causeways, but can feel crashy over sharper bumps. It’s a massive car, but I felt comfortable in it reasonably quickly around town. Parking can be a challenge at times, particularly in spaces designed for smaller cars.
Richard: Around town it feels huge. It can be daunting finding a suitable parking spot and knowing where the extremities of the sheet metal are. Having said that, the surround-view camera is a godsend.
David: That camera really is a game-changer – it’s even good for stuff like drive-through takeaway restaurant routes that have little room for error. The boot has loads of room – thanks in part to the removal of those extra seats – and the powered tailgate is a brilliant feature. But I’m less keen on other tech elements such as lane keeping assistance that can be quite annoying.
Richard: I’m with you on the lane-keeping tech. Unlike others that might beep or tug gently on the steering wheel, the LandCruiser’s feels very insistent. The wheel input is constant and it also brakes a wheel if you’re wandering to keep you in your lane. It can be disconcerting.
David: Remember when Toyota fans treated the decision to drop V8 power like the end of the world? That feels silly now, as the LandCruiser’s twin-turbo V6 has plenty of wallop. The big wagon’s 227kW and 700Nm motor delivers effortless shove, accompanied by an appropriately gravelly exhaust note. Toyota claims 8.9L/100km efficiency – well less than the 10.3L/100km of the outgoing car. But you’ll use more than that in the real world.
Richard: I was averaging close to 9L/100km at freeway limits, which is reasonable for such a big vehicle. Reasonable, that is, until you realise that diesel is pushing $2.50 a litre at the moment. It makes for some eye-watering refills. Having said that, the LandCruiser is a brilliant highway cruiser. It’s quiet, with effortless grunt and some of the most comfortable pews in the business. I did 700km in one go without so much as a twinge in the back.
David: While the lack of seven seats is disappointing, the LandCruiser still makes for an outstanding family car. Folks in the back are looked after with cupholders, power outlets, four-zone climate control and seats that are both heated and cooled, which made it a huge hit on the school run – so many buttons to press! I think the car’s price will be a bigger barrier for most folks.
Richard: The GR model isn’t the sweet spot for families because it’s a more hardcore, off-road focused wagon. Having said that, I can’t imagine any complaints from the back seat in this thing.
David: As a tougher and more modern version of the LandCruiser, the GR Sport is a great choice. But it doesn’t come cheaply.
Richard: Toyota is asking big bucks for this model, so if you’re not into off-roading and you don’t tow a van, you’ll get better value in a luxury SUV. If the great outdoors is your playground, though, nothing else comes close.