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Toyota Motor Corporation have further enhanced their highly successful LandCruiser 80 Series with the introduction of a 24 valve 4.2 litre turbo diesel engine, code named 1HD-FT. Toyota claims its four valve per cylinder design to be a world first for light commercial diesel engines and the most powerful light commercial four wheel drive diesel in Australia.
The turbo diesel model was knocked off the top of the ladder as No 1 in the performance and towing stakes when Toyota introduced their 4.5 litre twin cam, multi valve, 1FZ-FE petrol engine. However, the high fuel consumption of that engine has promoted a renewed demand for the more economical diesel engine, which has no doubt sent the Toyota engineers to the drawing board to bring the compression ignition engine back up to the mark.
The LandCruiser wagon is currently available in Standard DX, RV, GXL and VX Sahara models with ten variants ranging from $48,685 for the RV petrol through to $112,015 for the VX Sahara diesel automatic. Price for the GXL turbo diesel manual as tested is $73,890.
With the release of the current update in March 1995, the 80 Series featured a new automatic transmission first gear lock-out for improved traction on slippery surfaces, and a revamped dashboard. A CD player is fitted to all GXL and Sahara models, whilst cruise control is standard equipment on the turbo diesel GXL and all Sahara models.
Externally the LandCruiser has a new front bumper with larger air ducts for improved cooling and a new grille design, with a Toyota logo mounted in the centre.
Security is on the list of 80 Series improvements, with the Toyota Vehicle Security System (TVSS) available as an option. TVSS incorporates an engine immobiliser, alarm and a perimeter radar sensor to detect loitering around the vehicle.
Safety issues have been addressed with the provision of a driver's airbag as standard equipment in the Sahara models and side door anti-intrusion beams in all models.
Toyota has been quite successful so far in its LandCruiser range, in having design engineers who have been able to come up with a body style which is evergreen and able to give around a ten year term without and major changes.
Little has changed in the external contoured body lines of the updated model and panel and paint finish could be considered too good for an off road vehicle. However, the marketing people have the luxury car buyer in their sights with the higher level models. Door margins on the LandCruiser are consistently larger than the average sedan car, however I have seen some fairly up market sedan cars with similar size margins.
Corrosion protection is high in priority on the current model with all body panels, including the engine bay and floor pan, being pressed from corrosion resistant galvanised steel. Three grades of this zinc plated material are used dependent on the corrosion risk involved.
One of the outstanding features of the LandCruiser series is the amount of space which is available for the occupants. Often these vehicles are chosen by larger framed people, because of the additional space and the ability to operate the vehicle in reasonable comfort. This would be one of the few vehicles where head and leg room would not be a problem unless both the front and rear occupants had long legs. Both driver and front passenger seats are well shaped giving good side support and although no adjustment is provided in the lumbar area the seat is contoured well and provides good support.
Rear or centre seat passengers are provided with good head and leg room, with the centre position being one of the few where you can sit in comfort with ample space on all sides. The fold-up seats in the rear luggage area are a handy addition for extra passengers, however the limited legroom restricts their comfortable use to children. These seats fold up sideways and secure neatly to the sides of luggage compartment.
Ventilation on this vehicle is better than average with a large air space and larger than average fresh air vents allowing a better flow of air. However, the warmer Australian climate makes the airconditioning system a welcome addition, making it possible to close off the exhaust smells from other vehicles and achieve a comfort level to suit all but the harshest conditions.
Luggage space is another highlight of this vehicle with good length, height and width in the load area, although with the storage area seats folded up against the side walls, the load area is restricted. However, these are easily removed and stored elsewhere when maximum space is required. The rear seat is split 50/50 making it possible to use only half the full length load area and still carry an additional passenger. A number of tie-down lugs are provided in the rear storage area floor enabling security of larger or heavy items.
Storage in the cabin area is quite generous with full length compartments in both doors, a medium size lockable glove box, a large centre console glove box with lid, three smaller open storage areas for small items and four coin holders.
The driving position in the LandCruiser enables most drivers to find a comfortable position most drivers to find a comfortable position due to the seat design and the tilt adjustable steering column.
The height of the LandCruiser makes good all round vision possible and is one of the features which attracts many buyers. In spite of its size it is a very simple vehicle to drive with controls that are light and easy to operate. The heavy duty clutch is unusually light and gear selection is positive.
A popular criticism of the LandCruiser and similar size vehicles is the difficulty of manoeuvring it in tighter areas such as shopping centre car parks. However, it is surprising how easily this vehicle is operated in such positions. Much of this is due to the good visibility, the large external mirrors and the ease with which the steering and other controls can be operated.
The controls and instruments in the LandCruiser are positioned in typical Japanese/Australian fashion, and are all easy to reach and readily visible to the driver. One small criticism in this area is the digital clock positioned in the centre of the dash area and angled away from the driver making it almost impossible to see.
Power availability from the 24 valve turbo diesel engine is more than adequate, although the engine speed needs to be kept within the turbocharger rev. range, to take full advantage of the available power. If the engine revs are allowed to drop below this power band, a noticeable drop in engine power is evident.
Economy is probably the highlight of this vehicle, at 10.3 L/100km overall.
Whilst typical diesel noise levels are experienced at idle and low engine speeds, both engine refinements and insulation have vastly improved the levels at higher engine and road speeds. This is confirmed by a low noise reading of 69 dB(A) at 80 km/h.
For a vehicle of this size and weight, its handling ability is quite surprising. Much of this is achieved by the full-time four wheel drive configuration along with the revised specification of the 'S' rated tyres now fitted. Despite its size this vehicle can be driven in quite tight situations with the confidence of most sedan type vehicles, with only minimal oversteer and tyre noise being evident.
The four wheel disc ABS braking system on the LandCruiser did an admirable job of bringing this 2000kg plus vehicle to a standstill, in a straight line and with a minimal amount of the noise usually associated with ABS. However, some fade was noticeable at the conclusion of our performance testing.
Although much has been done to improve the on-road performance and comfort of the Toyota LandCruiser, none of it has compromised its off-road ability.
Turning this luxury vehicle into a series off-roader is as simple as pulling the four wheel drive selector lever in to the 'low' ratio position, which automatically selects the centre diff lock. Where traction is available and a common sense approach is applied, there are not many physical situations that would bar the access of this vehicle.
Service intervals for the LandCruiser have been nominated at 10,000km or six monthly for vehicles operating under normal conditions, whereas for those operating under severe conditions, intervals have been set at 5,000km or three months.
The cost of servicing a four-wheel drive is certainly greater than the average two wheel drive sedan and the high cost of Toyota parts adds no joy to the total service charge. Many independent four wheel drive repair specialists are setting up to capture many of the disenchanted four wheel drive owners who are still smarting as a result of the dealer's charges. Access to the normal under bonnet service items is excellent.
A more user friendly spare wheel winching mechanism has been utilised (not before time) and a locking mechanism operated from inside the rear doors provides a much needed protection against theft of the spare wheel and tyre assembly.
The ability to tow heavy trailers such as horse floats, boats and caravans is one of the priority functions and reasons for purchasing a turbo diesel LandCruiser. Their past and present towing reputation is well known and respected and the increase in engine power and the superior economy of the 24 valve turbocharged engine has further improved the towing ability of this model.
Many attempts have been made at producing an all purpose vehicle which can handle many and varied conditions. I believe Toyota has been very successful in producing a vehicle that is able to perform and handle well in normal highway driving, perform admirably in off-road conditions, comfortably transport a family of up to eight people and tow a heavy trailer; all in the one vehicle.
A very fine compromise if you can afford the price.
Test vehicle supplied by Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Ltd.
|Model||LandCruiser 80 Series GXL|
|Price of vehicle tested||$112,015|
Leg room in rear seat areas
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||2 years / 50,000 km, Driveline.3 years / 100,000 km|
$48,685 - RV
|Number of cylinders||6|
|Engine size||4.2 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||125 kW @ 3600 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||380 Nm @ 2500 rpm|
|Wheel size||16 "|
|Type||Dunlop Grand Trek|
|Type||Power assisted recirculating ball|
|Turns to lock||3.8 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||2070 mm|
|Fuel capacity||145 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||2170 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||36|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||4.5 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||7.7 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||10.4 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||15.6 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||9.3 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||12.3 L/100km|
|Average on test||10.3 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||30.5 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||69 dB(A)|