Fantastic diesel V8, incredible stock off-road ability, driving position, presence, old-school character, butch styling, typical toughness
Room for improvement
Arguably the least dynamic passenger vehicle on the road, vague steering, huge turning circle, sheer size, spartan standard equipment levels
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By ROBBIE WALLIS
Price and equipment
The LandCruiser Troopcarrier GXL we tested retails for $67,990 before on-roads
following a $3000 price hike in an October update, making it the second most
expensive GXL model after the dual-cab ute.
Our test car was fitted with air conditioning which, oddly, is optional on the
70 Series and costs a hefty $2761, bringing the total cost up to $70,751.
The only other Troopcarrier variant, the base-level Workmate, is $3100 cheaper
The 70 Series has never been known for its generous standard equipment, and the
current one is no different with only the most necessary, functional features
included on the more ‘lavish’ GXL.
Standard specification includes remote central locking, electric front windows,
Bluetooth, Aux input, USB, FM/AM radio and CD-compatible media player, voice
recognition, chrome bumpers and side steps, two 90-litre fuel tanks, two-piece
golf tee-head snorkel, full-size spare tyre, front fog-lights and halogen
headlights, underbody protection for the transfer case, ABS brakes, two
airbags, auto-locking front hubs with manual lock option and differential locks
for both the front and rear axles.
Cruise control also comes as standard for the first time on all variants.
It is offered in only three colours – French Vanilla, Sandy Taupe and Midnight
Blue – down from seven options in other body styles.
The 70 Series range also comes with an extensive list of factory accessories
including alloy or steel bull bars, side rails, tow bar, load distribution
hitch, roof racks or tray, winch, headlamp and bonnet protector, driving
lights, front weather shields and exterior sun visor.
There also exists an endless number of aftermarket accessories that can be
fitted to the Troopcarrier or any other 70 Series bodystyle to improve
performance, off-road ability, camping or aesthetics.
Customers expecting to get the interior quality, fit, finish and features of
most $70,000 vehicles are advised to consider something other than the
The phrase ‘function over form’ pops into mind when entering the cabin of the
Troopcarrier, with the abundant use of plastic, cloth and bulky buttons feeling
more like an interior from 1997 than 2017.
However there is also a certain charm in the simplicity of the LandCruiser’s
interior – every button makes sense, there is no scrolling through touchscreen
menus to figure out what you need and there are no strange beeps telling you
you’ve pressed something wrong. It is a Nokia 3315 the way a modern car’s cabin
is an iPhone – blocky, outdated and outmatched in terms of tech, but
uncomplicated, easy to use and tough as nails.
Embedded in the grey dashboard is a media player that is surprisingly
compatible with today’s technology – Bluetooth connectivity, USB and auxiliary
ports, FM/AM radio and a slightly-more-archaic CD player give users an
abundance of listening options.
Music is piped through two speakers in the front and two larger ones on the
rear barn doors however, with the considerable road noise and windy thrum of
the diesel V8, recorded sound gets drowned out in the cavernous Troopcarrier
Nestled below the media player is the air-conditioning unit – a black
rectangular cluster with a combination of sliding and turning knobs that turn
the nostalgia factor up to 11. The air-con is arguably the most dated-looking
part of the interior, and keep in mind this unit that looks like it’s been
ripped out of your nan’s ’93 Corolla is a $2761 option.
The air-con has four front-facing vents as well as the usual windshield and
foot vents, however much like the speakers, it struggles to effectively cool
the Troopcarrier’s enormous interior.
Situated underneath the air-con is an ashtray, a 12V port and buttons to turn
off traction control, extend or retract the antenna, and to switch between
either of the Troopcarrier’s 90-litre fuel tanks.
Next to the gear lever is a cupholder that looks like it’s been bolted to the
floor as a last-minute addition, which also houses a thin smartphone-sized
cavity and a second 12V port, which is important for overlanding enthusiasts
who may spend multiple days at a time away from a power source. Both front door
windows are electric, but the rear-view mirrors are not, meaning adjusting the
passenger side mirror requires getting out of the vehicle.
Surrounding the steering wheel on the dash are more buttons for cleaning the
diesel particulate filter, an idle-up switch for starting the engine in
extremely cold conditions, and the diff lock switch that lets you lock either
the rear differential or both the front and rear at the same time for very
There are also a number of blank switches intended for the extensive
modification that many 70 Series LandCruiser owners favour, and can be used as
switches for accessories such as aftermarket driving lights and diff lockers
for Workmate variants.
Storage cavities include the glovebox, thin door bins, a lidless centre console
bin, cupholder-like nooks next to the handbrake and mesh pockets in the back of
the front seats.
The cloth seats are basic but pleasantly comfortable, and when combined with
the low windowsills provide excellent driving position and road vision.
The Troopcarrier GXL comes in five-seat configuration, with the rear row
accessible only by folding the front seats forward. The idea of a five-seat
Troopy is somewhat daft – Toyota offers the 70 Series in five-door wagon form,
which makes for easier rear seat ingress and egress, while the Troopcarrier is
known for its folding bench seats that can fit eight people in the rear.
Nevertheless, once in the back seat legroom is ample (as is expected for a car
of its size) and the seating position is even higher in the rear, which makes
for a unique experience when sitting head and shoulders above the largest
European SUVs on the road. Open air is accessed manually by
horizontally-sliding windows along the length of the vehicle.
The rear seats can also be folded forward to increase cargo space in the rear.
With the added roof height in the Troopcarrier variants, one would be hard
pressed to find any other four-wheel-drive that can match its hangar-like
Overall the Troopcarrier’s interior is basic, utilitarian and devoid of
creature comforts, however the more time we spent in it the more we enjoyed
its… let’s say, ‘rustic’ charm.
Engine and transmission
Powering the entire 70 Series LandCruiser range is the same 4.5-litre
turbo-diesel V8 shared with the more passenger-oriented 200 Series
LandCruiser – with a few noticeable differences.
The 70’s engine employs a single turbocharger in place of the 200’s twin-turbo
set-up, and the engine has been tuned to prioritise durability and reliability
over performance and output. The unit in the 70 also features a top-mounted
intercooler which is responsible for the fat bonnet scoop on the hood –
arguably one of the best aesthetic features of the 70 Series.
As part of the range-wide update in October, the engine got an update to bring
it into line with Euro emissions standards, with changes including
piezo-electric injectors, a particulate filter and taller gearing in the second
and fifth gears.
Power output stands at 151kW at 3400rpm, while the maximum torque figure of
430Nm is reached low in the rev band from 1200 to 3200rpm.
It is teamed to a five-speed manual transmission with part-time
four-wheel-drive and a low-range gearbox. It boasts a 3500kg braked towing
capacity, and 750kg unbraked.
Fuel consumption is rated at 10.7 litres per 100km, up to 12.9L/100km in urban
On paper, the outputs of the Troopcarrier’s engine seem slightly underwhelming
– its power and torque figures are no more impressive than most four-cylinder
turbo-diesel engines found in today’s pick-ups.
However, once driving you understand that the LandCruiser’s V8 is a different
beast altogether – from the moment you turn the key the engine’s presence is
From the noise of the engine revving through the gears – more like that of a
bus than a passenger car – to the hefty dose of torque even from less than
1000rpm, the diesel V8 is clearly an engine made for hard yakka.
Putting the foot down doesn’t make for great performance – the Troopcarrier
lumbers and surges along without any sort of dynamic acceleration – but we
found the engine makes for a satisfying and enjoyable driving experience.
Shifting through the gears is easy with the five-speed manual once you found
the sweet spots, and when unladen, first gear becomes optional thanks to the
engine’s plentiful low rpm torque. This meant that the majority of city driving
could be done between the second and fourth gears.
Once on the highway, the Troopy made for comfortable cruising, with the
tachometer hovering at around 2000rpm in fifth gear at highway speeds.
Employing the low-range gearbox off-road helps the LandCruiser conquer any
hills and obstacles thrown at it, and also makes steep descents fun. There is
something about putting it in first gear low, taking your feet off the pedals
and watching almost two-and-a-half tonnes of truck edge down a steep hill using
only overrun to brake that brings a smile to your face.
Overall we loved the engine and transmission in the LandCruiser, and despite
its noise levels and gruffness it was surprisingly gentle but also capable when
needed. It sounded mean when pushed and the super low torque capabilities made
it a dream to drive in the rough stuff.
Ride and handling
To put it simply, on-road, the Troopcarrier is no magic carpet ride. Its
classification as a light-commercial vehicle is fitting, as it drives more like
a truck than a car and some toll road charges can really sting too.
It has an enormous turning circle with incredibly vague steering, and any turn
is performed with a large amount of body-roll thanks to its high centre of
gravity and rigid live axles front and rear.
At times and especially at high speeds the ride can be unsettled
thanks to the leaf-sprung rear suspension, a problem which is only amplified
when the vehicle is unladen.
Cruising in a straight line is comfortable, and the Troopcarrier soaks up bumps
fairly well, thanks in part to the 225/95R16 Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain
tyres, which are wrapped around 16-inch steel rims.
Parking around town in the Troopcarrier is a nightmare, thanks to its
combination of sheer size, turning circle, ride height (which can make it hard
to see smaller vehicles behind you) and lack of parking aids such as sensors
But critiquing the Troopcarrier’s handling on-road is like complaining about
the lack of storage space in a Lamborghini Aventador – if you do so you’re
missing the point.
Taking the Troopy off-road on steep firebreaks and rocky, rutted hills shows
how immensely capable Toyota’s king of the bush is, handling some genuinely
tough terrain with ease.
Whether in high or low range, it would never miss a beat powering up steep,
rocky tracks with minimal wheel spin, and the large profile tyres helped give
it sizeable ground clearance. The Troopcarrier has an approach angle of 35
degrees and departure angle of 25 degrees.
One particular path we encountered was especially treacherous, a steep decline
with deep ruts and large rocks scattered along the descent. With the exception
of a scrape on the rear passenger side bumper, the Troopy handled the track
with aplomb, crawling down the slope in first gear low and negotiating each
Even for those who are inexperienced with four-wheel-driving, a 70 Series
LandCruiser will make off-roading seem easy.
Safety and servicing
The 70 Series LandCruiser range comes with a three year/100,000km warranty, for
whichever comes first, and has capped price servicing for the first three years
or 60,000km set at $340 per service.
However fleet, government, not-for-profit and rental buyers are not be eligible
for capped-price servicing, so instead Toyota quotes a maximum logbook service
price for those buyers, which ranges between $342.56 and $1049,31.
When the range was updated last year, the single cab variant was tested by
ANCAP and scored a five-star rating for the first time, up from three stars.
However, the single cab was the only body style to receive a raft of safety
updates that included five airbags (up from two in other variants), under-dash
padding for the passenger and moving the steering linkage behind the front axle
for extra safety. The other bodystyles remain untested, and it is unlikely the
non-single cabs would achieve a five-star rating as they lack much of the
recent single cab safety upgrades.
The Troopcarrier comes with front driver and passenger bags, ABS, brake assist,
vehicle stability control, hill assist control, electronic brake-force
distribution and driver seatbelt warning lights.
The LandCruiser Troopcarrier GXL has crafted out a reputation for itself as an
un-killable, rough, rugged workhorse that can be relied on wherever you are.
From our time in the Troopy we can say that its reputation is wholly
justified, and that it is a vehicle of contrasts – it tends to do things either
incredibly well or comically poorly.
Its handling, manoeuvrability, interior fit and finish, NVH levels and standard
equipment are sub-par by just about any standard.
However, its off-road ability from stock, powerful diesel engine, on-road
presence, toughness, durability and practicality are unmatched by any vehicle
on the road today.
It is an acquired taste and a niche vehicle, but what it does well it does
very, very well.
Those looking for a high-riding, spacious SUV to drive around town should look
elsewhere. For those who need an agricultural vehicle or a serious off-roading
four-wheel-drive with room enough for everything you need to go on an extended
camping trip, there are few options to rival the LandCruiser Troopcarrier.
Nissan Y61 Patrol from $53,890 plus on-road costs
The ageing Patrol SUV is
on its last legs before being phased out of Nissan’s line-up after decades of
dedicated service, offered with a 118kW 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder
engine in both manual and auto guise. Nissan is offering the Patrol in a
swansong Legend Edition that throws in a bunch of accessories including steel
bull bar, winch, tow bar, roof rack, snorkel and sat-nav.
Mercedes-Benz G300 CDI Professional from $119,900 plus on-road
Mercedes-Benz brought a single-cab ute version of its super-tough
Gelandewagen Down Under late last year, boasting a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6,
two-tonne payload and three separate diff locks. However, at $119,900 plus
on-roads, it is almost double the price of a single-cab 70 Series LandCruiser.