In Australia, Toyota is seen as a “cardigan car” brand, with capable if unexciting vehicles such as the Aurion and Camry. The Corolla is consistently a high seller but, behind the scenes, is Toyota’s legendary Landcruiser. First released to an unsuspecting world in 1951, it’s grown and evolved and diverged into different models. A Wheel Thing runs into the 200 series GX and takes a look at where this classic nameplate is today.
It’s a four model range: GX, GXL, VX and Sahara. The GX as tested comes with a planet rotation stopping twin turbo, 650Nm diesel V8, at 4.5L capacity. That torque is available at just 1600 revs with peak power a not unreasonable 190kW at 3400rpm. The iron block, alloy head engine sips just over 10L per 100 kilometres, incredible given the ‘Cruiser’s kerb weight of a lick over two and a half tonnes. The main tank is 93 litres in capacity with the auxiliary at 45L, providing a potential range of well over 1000 kms. There’s the characteristic diesel chatter under way, with the six speed auto calibrated to turn the engine over at 1600/1700 rpm for freeway velocity whilst the exhaust emits a muted V8 burble.
On the road the Landcruiser is relaxed, unstressed, that massive amount of torque easily motivating the mass along; sink the right foot and the transmission quietly drops two spots, the engine takes a deep breath and sends the speedo spinning. There’s a palpable shove in the back and the horizon appears to increase in size rapidly. Given the drag co-efficient of the Landcruiser is akin to a kite in a stiff breeze, it’s a truly remarkable sensation to experience. Ride quality is niggly jiggly; the high profile dual purpose spec tyres (285/65s on 17 inch rims) do an admirable job of soaking up most bumps however the suspension (double wishbone front and live rear combination) is a bit touchy, with smaller and repetitive bumps being transmitted. Although there’s a squeal from the tyres coming into some bends, there’s never a true feeling of losing contact; the vehicle supplied was tested during some of Sydney’s wettest summer days and it was more of the pucker factor than anything when it came to handling. Under brakes, a well modulated pedal, with consistent travel, hauls the ‘Cruiser up with nary a blink, the near fourteen inch wide discs throwing out the anchors equally and without fuss each time.
As one would expect off road, it’s a sure footed machine, with plenty of torque to power through foot deep puddles in a clay basin; in fact, the wading depth is set at a maximum of 700 millimetres. On a tech level, there’s a centre diff lock, a transfer case for low range crawling and a dial for hill descent speed. With the front wheels being pushed more to the front bumper, approach angle is rated at a high thirty degrees with departure a tad less, at twenty. With an overall length of near as dammit five metres and a wheelbase of 2.85 metres, with a track of close to 1.8 metres, it presents a formidable footprint.
The interior is one of function over form; being a base model and consequently devoid of suburban fripperies, it’s a dirt friendly floor covering combination of rubber and vinyl. Get dirty, hose it out is the motto, with a simple cloth covering for the five seats, including the 60/40 split fold rear. There’s a basic set of steering wheel controls, including Bluetooth, single CD AM/FM radio with USB and auxiliary inputs, no parking sensors or reverse camera, which, initially seems a terrible omission. In hindsight, it brought back the driver training I received at a time where sensors and cameras for cars were a thing of science fiction; nowadays they’re there for people that haven’t been taught to drive. Aircon controls where minimalist also and, as such, a thing of engineering perfection, being a set of clearly identified buttons, for their individual purpose.
Driver’s instrumentation is also simple; tacho and oil temperature in one dial, speed and battery charge in the other, bisected by fuel and water temperature atop the gear indicator. The gear lever itself is mounted in a gated design, with a Sportshift option, unused in the week, as the bountiful torque was available at the crack of a right foot.
Naturally, for such a physically big vehicle (overall width and height is equal at 1970mm) there’s plenty of cargo space, with a massive 1431 litres available. As is the wont of manufacturers nowadays, there’s a plethora of cup holders, ideal for the farmer’s early morning coffee or a coldie at the end of the day.
The exterior of the GX provided was the basic white, with colour coded bumpers contrasting with the plain black of the driver’s side mounted snorkel intake. It’s an evolution, looks wise, of the 100 series released in the late ’90s, with a solid and bluff look. A double lamp headlight cluster and a simple, compact taillight assembly bookend the big machine.
Toyota’s GX Landcruiser is part of a legendary family; in it’s own right, for what its design objctives and true intended market are, it’s virtually ideal. There’s nothing excessive, it’s fitted out internally to suit the target usage, it is more than capable off road and in muddy environs and is decently economical. Price, though, is not for the faint of heart, clocking in at around 83 large. However, for the life of the car and for its sheer overall usefullness, it’s really not that much. Legend, writ large. Head here: http://www.toyota.com.au/landcruiser-200/specifications/gx-turbo-diesel?WT.ac=VH_LC200_RangeSpecs_GXL_Specs for more.