Car reviews - Toyota - LandCruiser - 200 Series 5-dr wagon range
7 Nov 2007
By CHRIS HARRIS
IN THE off-road vehicle world, it doesn’t get much bigger than the release of an all-new LandCruiser, which last occurred almost a decade ago in March 1998.
And in Australia, the world's largest LandCruiser market and home to more LandCruisers than any other nation, it doesn’t get much bigger than the eighth-generation ’Cruiser - the latest in a 50-year LandCruiser lineage that helped the aspiring Japanese car-maker get a foot-hold here and around the world.
Of more than 5.1 million LandCruisers sold globally since 1951, more than 540,000 (or one in ten) reside here – and all arrived since 1958, when the original FJ25 was sold and put to use in the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme before its offspring made the Toyota nameplate an Outback icon from Broken Hill to Broome. And before Toyota went on to dominate automotive sales charts around the world.
Far from falling out of favour in a climate of growing environmental concern, fuel price hikes and increasing traffic congestion, however, Toyota expects pent-up demand, due to a chronic shortage of diesel-powered models from Japan, to make the redesigned four-wheel drive even more popular than its hulking, all-conquering predecessors.
Australia has become more accessible thanks in large part to LandCruiser, which has long been the most popular vehicle in which to traverse its centre, even if has grown from being a utilitarian off-roader to a full-size luxury SUV.
Indeed, apart from sharing the same 2850mm wheelbase, the new model is bigger in all key dimensions than the all-conquering 100 Series it replaces.
Mercifully, however, according to Toyota a massive 83 per cent of LandCruiser owners actually use the off-road capability of their vehicle.
To that end, the newest ’Cruiser is also claimed to have a stronger body, mounted to a more capable new separate chassis that now comprises independent double wishbone front suspension, a “world-first” Crawl Control off-road cruise system (on petrol versions) and the clever wheel articulation-extending, Australian-invented Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) as standard on all but the volume-selling variant.
Throw in more powerful yet more economical petrol and diesel engines – including a bullocking new 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel – as well as improved safety features like multi-terrain anti-lock brakes and up to 10 airbags – and it’s no wonder “200 Series” was chosen to designate LandCruiser’s clean-sheet design.
And after being spied on, speculated about and previewed, including a “world motor show debut” in Sydney last month after going on sale in Japan on September 18, full local pricing and specifications make it clear Toyota aims to take LandCruiser more upmarket than ever in 200 Series guise.
In fact, while the price premium for diesel over petrol has dropped from almost $13,000 to $10,000 and now buys you Toyota’s first ever turbo-diesel V8 (and its first twin-turbo engine), LandCruiser’s entry price has increased by a big $14,000 following the discontinuation of standard-grade 100 Series, which last sold for $53,990. Toyota says it accounted for about 200 sales per month.
That sees the 200 Series line-up, which comprises two V8 auto options across three specification grades, range from a substantial $69,990 for the GXL petrol to a hefty $104,990 for the flagship Sahara turbo-diesel.
Toyota says it hopes to keep disenfranchised entry-level off-road buyers - consisting mainly of government, rental and (mostly mining) business customers - in the family via the recently launched standard-grade Prado manual, which costs $44,600 ($47,600 as an auto), and the five-seater Workmate wagon version of the LandCruiser 70 Series, which was introduced as part of an upgraded utility range for the first time this year. It carries the same price as the discontinued base 100 Series ($53,990), while the GXL version costs $57,490.
The upgraded 70 Series range introduced Toyota’s new V8 diesel to Australia in March, albeit in single-turbo guise producing 151kW at 3400rpm and 430Nm between 1200rpm and 3200rpm, making it the flattest torque curve of any Toyota engine. Combined ADR 81/01 fuel consumption for the manual-only 70 wagon is 11.9L/100km.
Now the 200 Series offers a twin-turbo version of the same 1VD-FTV-codenamed, 4.461-litre common-rail direct-injection (“D-4D”), intercooled, DOHC, Euro IV emissions-compliant, 32-valve diesel V8, this time producing 195kW (down 15kW on the European version) at the same 3400rpm and an outstanding 650Nm of peak torque (more than any Toyota before it) between the slightly narrower band of 1600-2600rpm.
That’s 45kW or 30 per cent more power and a big 220Nm or 50 per cent more torque than the 100 Series’ 4.2-litre direct-injection straight-six turbo-diesel.
Toyota hopes the frugal new 90-degree V8 diesel will help put an end to V8 bans by company and government fleets, because it returns combined ADR 81/01 fuel consumption of 10.3L/100km – 6.3 per cent better than the 4.2.
It's also quick to point out that its V8 uses 1.5L/100km less diesel “than a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine offered by another company... yet has 65 per cent more power and 58 per cent more torque”.
Featuring undersquare bore and stroke dimensions of 86.0x96.0mm, a 16.8:1 compression ratio and an air “pre-cleaner” specifically for Australia, it emits 273g/km of C02.
LandCruiser's 4.664-litre petrol V8 has also been updated and now meets Euro4 emissions standards, emitting 341g/km of CO2. Thanks to the addition of variable inlet valve timing (“VVT-i”), Toyota's Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) and a higher compression ratio, it returns 9.9 per cent lower combined ADR 81/01 fuel consumption of 14.5L/100km (which Toyota points out is also “0.3L/100km lower than the six-cylinder engine fitted to another vehicle in the large SUV segment”).
Peak power is up 18 per cent or 32kW to 202kW at 5400rpm, while maximum torque rises to 410Nm at 3400rpm.
While the new V8 diesel is mated to a new Toyota-made AB60F six-speed automatic transmission, the cast-iron-blocked 2UZ-FE petrol V8 comes with a carryover A750F five-speed auto – both with a toothed shift gate and manual-shift mode – and both versions can now tow up to 3500kg via a chassis-mounted towbar.
A new transfer case employs a torque-sensing (“Torsen”) mechanical limited-slip centre differential with a dial-actuated locking function. It is rear-biassed in straight-line driving situations to the tune of 41:59, but can deliver up to 70 per cent of torque to the rear wheels and 53 per cent to the front.
The revolutionary new KDSS suspension harware, standard on all but the volume-selling GXL turbo-diesel, further improves wheel articulation off-road by “de-coupling” the stabiliser bars, while improving bodyroll control on the road.
Based on a new body-on-chassis structure that's claimed to offer 40 per cent more torsional rigidity and 20 per cent more bending stiffness, the 200 is 60mm longer and 30mm wider.
Coil springs replace the 100 Series' front torsion-bar set-up to offer 15 more travel, while the four-link with lateral rod IRS is retained.
LandCruiser 200's brake package is all new, comprising 340x32mm ventilated front discs with four-piston fixed calipers and 345x18mm vented rear discs with single-piston floating callipers.
Vital off-road statistics include a 30-degree approach angle, 25-degree ramp-over angle and 20-degree departure angle, thanks to more rear overhang.
Along with A-pillars that have been pushed forward, which also improves visibility by shortening the bonnet, the larger and rounder bodyshell and all-V8 engine line-up liberates an extra 130mm of cabin length in which to house the same eight occupants.
LandCruiser's aerodynamic drag co-efficient improves from 0.39Cd to 0.35Cd, while longer-travel front and centre-row seats (240mm and 105mm respectively) increase third-row legroom. There's an extra 50mm of rear luggage floor length.
Opening the 200 Series batting is the GXL petrol auto, priced at $69,990. It features switchable VSC stability and ATC traction control, multi-terrain ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, plus Hill-start Assist Control to eliminate vehicle roll-back during start-off on steep surfaces.
Turbo-diesel examples come standard with Downhil Assist Control, which controls speed on steep descents.
All models also feature an automatic transmission, full-time 4WD system, 17-inch alloy wheels including spare wheel, dual-zone front climate-control air-conditioning with pollen filter, twin front airbags, twin front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags for all three rows, second-row outboard seatbelt pretensioners, keyless Smart Entry and Smart Start, adjustable first and second-row seatbelt anchors, auto-locking third-row seatbelt retractors, key reminder warning, in-glass radio antenna, power windows, a six-speaker sound system and a rear spoiler.
Priced at $79,990 ($4550 more than the 100 Series GXL), the GXL turbo-diesel is expected to be the biggest-selling 200 Series variant and is claimed to gain $6390 in extra equipment, incluging a new V8 diesel, Torsen centre diff, HAC, DAC and Smart Entry/Start. Stability control, multi-terrain ABS and side and curtain airbags are all new to LandCruiser.
Also new is KDSS, which comes standard on all but the volume-selling GXL turbo-diesel, customers of which pay an extra $2500.
The mid-range VX gains twin front knee airbags, twin second-row side airbags, leather seats, leather steering wheel, leather gearshifter, powered front seats, privacy glass, front foglights, matt side steps, power windows, sunroof, door courtesy lights, overhead console, trip computer, Optitron instruments, a 40:20:40-split folding second-row seat (in lieu of 60:40-split) with twin cupholders in the centre armrest, front seat-back pockets, rear map lights, an alarm system and woodgrain interior dash trim.
The VX costs $10,000 more than the GXL, priced at $79,990 for the petrol (the same as the diesel GXL) and $89,990 for the diesel. While the petrol VX gains a sub fuel tank, both VX versions come with KDSS as standard.
Finally, the range-topping Sahara adds a reversing camera, satellite DVD navigation with touch-screen and Bluetooth connectivity, a nine-speaker sound system with six-CD/DVD/MP3 changer, four-zone climate-control, steering wheel controls, a power-adjustable steering wheel, power-folding wing mirrors, headlight washers, anti-glare rear-view mirror, a wood/leather gearshifter and steering wheel with remote audio controls, and a cool box. The Sahara costs a big $15,000 more than the VX, at $79,990 (petrol) and $104,990 (diesel).
Both petrol and diesel versions come with KDSS as standard.
Instead of the DAC system offered with diesel versions, all petrol models have Crawl Control, which works in conjunction with the new multi-terrain ABS to automatically control the engine and brakes to maintain speeds of less than 10km/h in both (low-range) forward and reverse.
Toyota Australia will offer a fixed-price service plan, which covers up to six standard scheduled services during the three-year/60,000 warranty period, each costing $180 for a total cost of $1080.
Nine exterior paint colours are available: Glacier White, Crystal Pearl, Silver Pearl, Graphite, Ebony, Merlot Red, Gold Metallic, Goldrush and Blue Storm.
Genuine 200 Series Toyota accessories will include an alloy bumper-replacement bullbar, a heavy-duty steel bullbar, winch, alloy roof rack, 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, 150kg three-bar roof rack set, 170kg alloy luggage tray and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
Toyota expects to match or better the 100 Series' selling rate of 800 per month by selling around 10,000 examples in the first year of sales, two-thirds of which are expected to go to current LandCruiser owners and two-thurds of which will be diesel.
“Everything Toyota has learnt in half a century of building four-wheel drives has gone into the design, development and manufacturing of the new LandCruiser 200,” said Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner.
“It has retained the capability of the original LandCruiser, and added the comfort and convenience of a luxury sedan. New LandCruiser is more than a step forward it's a giant leap ahead in technology, performance, specification and value.”
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