It’s been a hell of a long time since Toyota’s LandCruiser was given a comprehensive update, but now that the new 300 series has finally arrived, we will spend the next few weeks reporting back on each of the various configurations as they hit the EFTM Garage.
The LandCruiser is an incredibly important model for Toyota Australia, even if it is a bit of an anomaly for Toyota globally. Locally, the LandCruiser is the pinnacle in Toyota’s range, not just in price, but in reputation. For a lot of rural customers, the only purchasing decision that needs to be made is what colour the next LandCruiser will be. This kind of loyalty is not gained without the years and years of reliable service and outstanding resale value that Toyota, and the LandCruiser, in particular, is known for. The importance of the LandCruiser range to Toyota Australia has been acknowledged by Japan. Australian engineers were responsible for much of the LandCruiser’s diesel engine and suspension.
Just how loved is the LandCruiser? Well, when word leaked that the 300 Series would lose its 4.5 litre V8 diesel engine, buyers went bananas. The prices for new or low kay 200 Series ‘Cruisers spiked and the buying frenzy that followed was, frankly, embarrassing. This kind of behaviour shows just how important the LandCruiser is to so many Aussies. For those in the bush, the LandCruiser is as crucial to life as a good kelpie. For campers (and camper wanna-be’s), owning a LandCruiser symbolises a lifestyle of freedom and a wide-open road.
Reputation aside, there has always been many better options than a LandCruiser for most people. For those in the bush and grey nomads, Toyota’s Prado, for example, tows almost as much, uses less fuel and is just as reliable and competent off-road as well as being just a bit more comfortable. For townies, just go for something like Hyundai’s Palisade – you’ll save tonnes of money and it just makes more sense in an urban environment.
If, like the 15000 or so Aussies that bought a LandCruiser in 2020, your heart is set on the big Toyota, let’s look at this new 300 Series a little closer. To help us really understand what people want to know, we posted the arrival of the GX LandCruiser on the EFTM Socials and asked the question, ‘What do you want to know?’. So, let’s check out the questions.
There was some concern about the looks of the big thing from more than a few followers. ‘Cameron’ thinks the ‘Cruiser looks better than the Patrol. In the flesh, it is visually much tighter than the Patrol and the interior is light years ahead of the big Datsun. In fact, the availability of a diesel engine combined with the updated interior makes it hard to imagine anyone will choose the Nissan over the Toyota, despite Nissan’s Patrol being a very good thing. ‘Blake’ is convinced that the 300 looks like an Izuzu MU-X. I can see where he’s going with this but in the flesh, the scale is all wrong. The 300 is huge and is a far, far more convincing design than the MU-X.
‘Buck Rogers’ is on his way to the 25th century but noted a common theme with both the LandCruiser and the Patrol – deep, deep front bumpers. They might make these monsters look a little ‘slicker’, but they suck when you’re off-road. Damage obtained during the launch shows just how much these deep and low bumpers hinder off-road performance with this press fleet vehicle carrying scars despite showing only three figures on the odometer. Still, anyone serious about off-road performance will be ditching the bar for an aftermarket item anyway.
A quick visit to the good people at ARB revealed that no firm date has been given to local stores regarding the availability of accessories for the 300 Series. Despite this, I was assured that ARB will have their full range of goodies available for the new ‘Cruiser as soon as they possibly can. I suspect that the bullbar range will be first, with other bits and bobs coming soon after.
‘Davey’ proved once again just how informed our EFTM followers are with a series of important questions, including exaggerated fuel economy figures, fuel filters with water warning, the reliability of the air filter, the need for a catch can, cruising rpm and the tendency for these big beasts to hunt in the gears in a vain attempt to conserve fuel and the use of aluminium in construction.
Regarding fuel consumption, the 300 is a big unit. It’s going to suck the juice. I couldn’t come close to the claimed 8.9L/100km, but, to be fair, we haven’t exactly been driving with an eye on fuel economy. I think a realistic combined figure will see low to mid teens being the order of the day.
The ‘Cruiser’s 10-speed transmission also sees it just ticking over above idle at 100kph. Seriously, it’s like 1450 rpm or so. It’s deeply impressive. Of course, throw a big van on the back or a full load in the cabin and that will climb. We also experienced none of the hunting between gears that can sometimes happen, although with the shifts between 8, 9 and 10 being utterly seamless, it is hard to tell if hunting is occurring.
Regarding water detecting fuel filters and the strength of air filtration, this is a bit of a mixed bag. The GX comes with a snorkel from the factory, but it is a raised air intake designed for grabbing cleaner air from higher in the airstream. For river crossings, you will still need an aftermarket snorkel to keep water out of the air intake. Improved fuel filters, with water detection, are always a good idea, but I think Toyota’s bean counters have acknowledged that the vast majority of LandCruisers won’t be leaving the dirt or performing their own submarine impersonation.
Likewise, the issue of catch cans is even more troublesome. Diesel’s are dirty. There’s no getting around it. Manufacturers have taken huge steps to try to make them cleaner and Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) systems are one attempt at cleaning up diesel emissions. The problem with this system is that EGR valves and manifolds become clogged with a sticky, sooty, sludgy mess. Generally, this isn’t going to be a problem until the engine has ‘to the moon and back’ mileage. Still, if you keep your cars for a long time, get a good quality catch can on your 300 because it doesn’t come with one out of the factory gates.
Like a Coonabarabran cowboy, ‘Justin’ wants to see a drag race between the 200 Series and this new 300 Series. I like how Justin thinks, but I don’t have a 200 Series laying around. Even if I did, I wouldn’t bother – the 300 will kill it. It makes more power than the 200 and is lighter. This 3.3 litre V6 twin-turbo diesel is one of the most eager and punchy diesel donks I’ve driven. It is undoubtedly the star of the 300’s show, punching out 227kw at 4000rpm and a massive 700Nm between 1600 and 2600rpm. I love it. If you rushed out and spent $20k – $30k over the odds for a 200, just to have one of the last V8s, I’m sorry to say that you blew your dough. This engine is epic and betters the V8 in the numbers and road feel.
‘Murray’s’ keen eye spotted the lack of a split tailgate in the entry-level GX. Split barn doors have been a hallmark of the no-nonsense GX for donkey’s years. Now, the 300 sports a one-piece lift-up tailgate. It does the job, I guess, but it is nowhere near as charismatic as the old barn door arrangement.
‘Ben’s’ dusted off the cheque book and is keen to join the waitlist. There’s no nice way to put this Ben – it’s going to be a long wait. The press fleet and dealer demonstrators can’t be sold, no matter the size of a buyer’s wallet, until six months have passed. Order books are bulging and the consensus seems to be that it will be six to nine months before you’ll have a LandCruiser sized shadow in your driveway.
‘Bill’s’ concerned about legroom in the 3rd-row seats. At the time of writing, we’ve only had our hands on the $89900 five-seater GX. I’ll be sure to report back on this as soon as we get a seven-seat GXL, VX, Sahara or Sahara VX. My personal favourite, the GR Sport, is also ‘only’ a five-seater.
‘Glenn’s’ hooking up a van and is concerned about towing capacity and GVM. The towing capacity remains a stonking 3500 kg, but of far more concern to those adding heavy accessories like bullbars, sidesteps, fridges and so on is the 300’s Gross Vehicle Mass. Depending on your idea of camping, and which specification you choose, if you insist on towing a block of flats around the country, you’re not going to have a tonne of capacity leftover… er, literally!
The 300 is more powerful than the outgoing model and, importantly, weighs less than its forebearer, but maximum weights are a tricky thing to get your head around. No matter what, the ‘Cruiser is going to be better at this sort of thing than something like a Hilux ute or a Mitsubishi Pajero, but you’re still going to need to be very, very careful if you insist on towing a block of flats around Australia. Let’s have a look at the numbers.
The reduced weight of the new model allows for gains to the ‘Cruiser’s payload – about 50kg, depending on the level of specification. The 300 has also changed how the important Gross Combined Mass (GCM) figure is determined. The 300’s GCM is 6750kg. The GVM is 3280kg. The maximum towed weight remains 3500kg. At the end of the day, this all means that you can throw up to 785kg of gear into a ‘Cruiser; this drops to 650kg for the heavier VX and Sahara. The kicker comes when you hook up said block of flats. Hook up a 3500kg van and that total load you can have in the ‘Cruiser drops to 435kg or 300kg for the heavier VX and Sahara. 300kg! That’s for your bullbar, fridge, roof racks, passengers and luggage! Look, I know it’s a personal thing, but please consider all of this carefully before you decide to cut a lap of this big brown land with such a heavy van.
Over on the ‘Gram, queries revolved around the looks, the tow rating, and the 10-speed ‘box. We’ve covered the looks and the tow rating. What about the gearbox? Naturally, with a tighter spread of ratios, it’s going to be a better thing. It’s a seamless shifter. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our hands on a heavy trailer to test the behaviour of the ‘box under load. Ultimately, I am convinced that the big jump in ratios will avoid some of the hunting that the old ‘box suffered. Time will tell.
Needless to say, we can’t wait to get our hands on the entire range, including the especially tasty GR Sport.