This Car Review Is About: The current FJ200 Toyota Land Cruiser in VX specification. There are four models: GX, GXL, VX, and Sahara.Under The Bonnet Is: A hefty 4.5L diesel fed V8 and six speed auto. Peak power is 200kW @3,600rpm, and a whopping 600Nm of torque between 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm. The torque is needed as the dry weight is over 2,700kilograms, with a Gross Vehicle Mass of 3,350kg. Toyota fits two fuel tanks, a primary of 93L and a sub-tank of 45L. Economy is quoted as 9.5L/100km on the combined cycle. Our final figure, after a country drive loop of 1,300km, was way off at 11.5L/100km.What Does It Cost?: The GX in plain white starts from around $84,600 for AWT’s location. The Toyota website allows for a suburb by suburb pricing comparison. The VX comes up with a starting price of $107,600 and that’s with a folding pair of third row seats. In Silver Pearl, as tested, it’s $108,106.
On The Outside It’s:Big. And heavy. Bumper to bumper it’s 4,990mm in length and rolls on a 2,850mm wheelbase. Height is 1,970mm and overall width is 1,980mm. Stoppers are family pizza in size at 354mm front and rear for VX and Sahara. Rubber is from Dunlop and the Grand Trek tyres are 285/60/18. These were given a solid workout.With talk of an update to the body being released somewhere around 2021, and the current body based back in 2007, it’s a familiar look. Subtle curves to the flanks, a rounded nose with self-leveling headlights sitting above a chromed strip, that itself sits above a set of LED driving lights. In between is a massive air intake lined with three horizontal strips. Out back is a horizontally split non-powered tailgate and some eye-catching lights. There was also a towbar fitted and Toyota says there is a 3.5 tonne towing capacity.On The Inside:The VX is showing its age. Faux black leather seats look fine but up front there didn’t appear to be venting or heating controls for the powered seats nor is there memory seating. There is a 4 zone climate control system, however, with rear seat vents and centre row passenger access for temperature and fan speeds. Rear seats are flip to the side, not down into the floor, which means there is some cargo room accessible but not as much as there could be.The dash for the driver is full analogue for the dials (easy to read) and does feature the now ubiquitous info screen operated via the tiller tabs. To the left is a 9 inch touchscreen with access to climate control, navigation, Toyota apps, AM/FM/DAB, and a CD plus Bluetooth. There are 9 speakers and it’s an impressive system.
No wireless charge pad for a smartphone but a sole USB and 12V port. Somewhat disappointingly, the centre console storage box wasn’t a coolbox nor did it seem to cool down by running the rear centre console airvents which have their air channels run alongside the box. That same centre console houses a pair of dials. One is four going to 4WD low range, the other is for the crawler mode.The cabin is roomy but cramped. Roomy because of the sheer size but cramped due to the aging layout. However a white/grey rooflining against a contrasting black lower section does make for an airy feeling, along with the large glasshouse. A sunroof helped too.Out On The Road It’s: A legendary vehicle that, when driven in varying environments, shows why it’s a legend. The timing of the review allowed AWT to take the VX out to the dusty central north town of Coonamble, via Mudgee and Dunedoo.
The run commenced with an easy two and a half hours to Mudgee, a beautiful and thriving town. Immediately the VX impressed with its easy going, loping, style. But it also showed the aging architecture underneath and the sloppiness of the steering on centre. The suspension gives the impression of wafting the big machine, with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, fitted as standard, absorbing the varying tarmac terrains easily.North of Mudgee is the road to Dunedoo and again the VX Land Cruiser would make this an easy run. What wasn’t easy was the feeling of helplessness from seeing the dead wildlife and the sheer dryness of the countryside. This would only get worse and we headed north from the village to Mendooran and then Gilgandra. from here one can head north-east to Coonabarabran and Siding Spring Observatory in the stark Warrumbungle Ranges, or cruise north west to Coonamble.Increasingly apparent was the struggle between the farmers and Mother Nature. It’s clear that there’s water, but it’s much like a famous line from a song by America. In “A Horse With No Name” there’s a line: “The ocean is a desert with its life underground, and a perfect disguise above”….This is complemented by: “After three days in the desert fun, I was looking at a river bed, and the story it told of a river that flowed, made me sad to think it was dead.” The lines of trees that stretched away into the distance, with some of a lush green, and others of a desperate sign of hanging on, tell the story. And a constant in most areas was the tortured, parched earth either side.Coonamble itself is around 230km from the NSW/QLD border and around 80km from Pilliga, home to a bore water hot spring bath that’s been in operation since 1902. Here, too, are clear indications of how the drought has hurt the bush.
Our hosts in Coonamble were Scott and Jenny Richardson, Blue Mountains residents and living an Aussie dream by having their own pub. With Coonamble’s main businesses being based on sheep and wheat farms, there’s a lot of locals looking to quench their thirst. It also gave AWT a chance to meet and talk about life in a remote town. One of the locals, a dapper gent that had lived in the town all of his life, declared he didn’t entirely believe in climate change, and readily stated that he thought that there is something wrong with the weather as he’d never seen conditions as bad for so long.The road between Pilliga and Baradine gave us a chance to test the gravel handling capability of the Land Cruiser. Rutted, compacted, and with the big footprint of the VX needing constant monitoring, the suspension showed its mettle. Here and throughout the 1300 kilometres covered in two and a half days, the comfort level proved high, with minimum physical fatigue thanks to the way the VX simply ignored the road conditions. That loose steering feel also showed why it was loose; a light grasp on the tiller allows the front end to look after itself and required only minimal input to keep the Land Cruiser on the straight.
Baradine is directly north of the Warrumbungles and here the handling of the VX was tested. Although there’s plenty of rubber on the road, the sheer mass of the Land Cruiser showed that judicious driving was needed when it came to the turns and curves. The upper body movement would prove disconcerting and needing a mental adjustment in where braking points and steering inputs needed to coincide. Some turns marked as 75kmh needed to be driven at that speed in the VX, with others allowing a more natural flow, leaving the car to find its own way through the line from entry to apex to exit.Coonabarabran is in the same need for rain as Coonamble. Surprisingly, with the Siding Spring observatory complex just a short drive west on one of the volcanic plugs that makes up the Warrumbungles, it’s also affected by skylight from Sydney. Siding Spring is the largest astronomical complex in the country, playing host to a vast array of internationally operated sites and is the hub to the Solar System Highway. This is a virtual model of the solar system, with the inner four planets just minutes away from the mountain top, and Pluto is three hours drive away.
Heading west from Coonamble through the national park this road also tests handling and ride quality. Once on the western side of the extinct volcano, the road becomes sandy, gravelly, and has moments of tarmac as it winds its way to Coonamble. The actual drive experience varies; acceleration can be easy and gradual when needed. And that 600Nm comes into play when required too, with a surprising alacrity when pressed.Again the distinction between underground waterways, the bore water that makes up some of the water supplies, and the drier than the moon’s surface farmland, was palpable. Lonely sheep and cattle wandered almost aimlessly in vast dusty paddocks, yet, occasionally, patches of emerald green shone thanks to hard working pumps tapping the subterranean water supplies. Back in Coonamble and the signs that encouraged the locals to shop local became more and more frequent. The VX shows why the Land Cruiser is so ideally suited for this kind of drive. The torque of the engine and the gearbox’s ratios has the tacho ticking over at just 2,000 at better than highway speeds thanks to the six speed auto, and simply hauls the constant 4WD beast through the sand and gravel without a second thought. There’s no doubt that one of the transmissions that have an extra two or three cogs would help economy and drastically change the driving behaviour.
Although just six in the number of cogs thou shalt count to, it’s a slick, smooth, shifter. It’ll hold gear nicely on downhill runs, using the engine as a brake, and on acceleration, and as slow as it can be at times, shifts are mostly invisible. And sometimes the slide into sixth was perceptible but not overtly noticeable. Naturally Sports Mode is available but was not used, and neither are there paddle shifters anyway, hinting at the intended usage of the driveline.All through the drives two things shone: the muted burble of the V8 and the sheer lack of fatigue often found in other cars. Noise insulation is high, that aforementioned ride and comfort level too must contribute to the lack of weariness unexpectedly felt.
The return journey gave the VX a chance to stretch its legs and again it showed that for all of its prowess it’s still restricted in a couple of ways. It’s a big and heavy machine, and prone to diving under braking. It’s a big and heavy machine and needs to be gentled, not hustled, through quite a few corners. And that six speed auto does sometimes need an extra couple of cogs.The same trip also showed why the focus by the NSW Government and Highway patrols on speed will never reduce the road toll. On a sweeping left hand corner south of Mudgee, a two lane section with double white lines, one particular driver took it upon himself to pass a line of traffic into a blind corner. There was oncoming traffic that could be seen from the head of the queue but not from where this boofhead started from. Somehow, somehow, nothing occurred. No, he wasn’t alone in his dangerous driving, with plenty of other examples seen.At least there is a decent amount of safety kit inside the VX. There are airbags front to rear. Blind Spot Detection is standard and is Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Front parking sensors are also standard.
When it comes to servicing and warranty, a driver can book a service via the myToyota app. Toyota offer a standard five year warranty which can be extended to seven if the car is serviced at a Toyota dealership.
At The End Of the Drive. It’s been said that Australia is largely responsible for the success of the Land Cruiser, and in a drive such as this that covered suburban and deep country, it’s close to heaven for this kind of vehicle. The low revving V8 is ideal for long distance hauls, the comfort level showcases just how important fatigue reduction is, and then there is the off road ability that is almost unquestionably a leader. However it’s that same soft and wafty suspension that counts against it in some areas, economy wasn’t close to the combined figure, and that mass…..Right here is where you can find more.