2008 Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series

By Bill McKinnon on 01 January 2008
2008 Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series

Engine
Transmission
Fuel Economy
16.4 L/ 100km
Output
ANCAP rating

Not Tested

Toyota's big LandCruiser gets even bigger for 2008, with the highlight of the new 200 Series being a superb new 4.5 litre turbodiesel V8 engine.

Value for money

Pricing

The 200 Series base 4.7-litre V8 petrol GXL costs $69,990, the VX is $79,990 and the Sahara is $94,990. Turbo diesel V8 variants each cost an extra $10,000.

Warranty

Three years/100,000 kilometres.

Standard equipment

All LandCruiser 200 models have eight seats, 17-inch alloy wheels including spare wheel, automatic air conditioning, six airbags, stability control and keyless entry and starting. VX adds driver and front passenger knee airbags, second-row seat side airbags, tinted glass, front foglamps, side steps, remote power windows and sunroof, trip computer, illuminated instruments, leather seat trim, leather-bound steering wheel and gearshift lever, power-adjustable front seats, and an alarm system.

Sahara has a reversing camera, satellite DVD navigation with six CD/DVD/MP3 changer and nine-speaker audio, four-zone automatic air conditioning, cool box, power tilt and telescopic steering column, electric folding exterior mirrors, headlamp cleaning system, wood and leather gear shift lever, steering wheel with audio controls and an electro-chromatic interior mirror.

Retained value

This depends upon whether you choose the diesel or petrol engine. The 100 Series GXL 4.2 litre six cylinder turbo diesel's three year resale value holds up strongly at around 56 per cent, but its 4.7 litre V8 equivalent is around 51 per cent, according to Redbook. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the difference may be greater than that.

Design and function

Ergonomics

Toyota does the most efficient, user friendly dash layouts in the business. Highlights here include the permanently illuminated instruments, intuitive touch screen operation in the Sahara, a centre console storage box that's bigger than some car boots (with chilling in the Sahara), front/side sunvisors and big, clearly marked buttons and switches. Less appealing are separate rake and reach levers for steering wheel adjustment on the GXL, the absence of seat height adjustment on GXL, and the absence of a rear camera until you get to the Sahara.

Toyota doesn't like putting controls on the steering wheel, but a duplicate set of basic audio controls would be handy. Selecting high or low range no longer requires you to reach down for an argument with the previous model's stubby, often recalcitrant lever; a simple rotary switch on the dash and electronics now take care of this task. Vision is fine in all directions - you sit above nearly everyone else - but a camera should be standard across the range.

Technical details

  • The 200 Series LandCruiser has a larger, stronger, stiffer separate box section steel frame chassis.  It's slightly longer and wider than the previous model.

  • The 4.5 litre direct injection twin turbo-diesel engine produces 195kW of power at 3400rpm and 650Nm of torque from 1600-2600rpm.
    It's matched with a six -peed sequential automatic. The 4.7 litre V8 is carried over, with improvements lifting power to 202kW at 5400rpm. Torque is 410Nm at 3400. A five-speed automatic is standard with this engine.

  • High and low range are now selected electronically, via a switch on the dash. A Torsen centre differential varies the front/rear troque split depending upon conditions and wheel grip. It can be locked.

  • Front suspension is new double wishbone/coil spring; rear suspension is live axle/coil spring. A new Australian designed Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System - KDSS - is standard on all models except the GXL turbo diesel, where it adds $2600. KDSS uses linked hydraulic cylinders on both stabiliser bars to counteract body roll when cornering. When wheel articulation occurs, as in off road driving, the cylinders exert no pressure on the stabiliser bars, allowing full suspension stroke.

  • Petrol models have crawl control, which allows low speed, feet off traversing of very rough terrain.  Hill descent control is fitted to turbo diesel models.

  • Brakes include ABS with a variable slip ratio for optimum performance on a range of road surfaces.

  • All petrol variants, and the GXL turbodiesel, have 138 litres of fuel capacity; VX and Sahara turbo diesel have 93.
    285/65 Dunlop Grandtrek tyres are fitted.

  • Ground clearance is 225mm.

  • Kerb weight is 2555-2720; GVM is 3300kg; GCM is 6800kg and maximum towing capacity is 3500kg.

Safety

5-star ANCAP

Comfort

The driver's seat is shaped for big blokes. It's more firmly padded than usual and comfortable on a long drive, but light bolstering doesn't keep you securely located in rough, off road driving.

Space and practicality

Row two is a big, broad, comfortable seat, split 60/40, with plenty of legroom, adjustable backrest angles, three child restraint anchors on the back and minimal storage.

Both sides tumble forward without effort for access to row three, which, as before, is a 50/50 split, each half being secured against the side of the load area, but with a new quick, no muscle required mechanism for raising and lowering. It's one of the better back stalls - hardly luxurious, but much more spacious than most.

The lightweight horizontally split tailgate is retained, but you can't easily remove the back seats, as before, to maximise the load space. The seats take up around 30 percent of available width. In five seater mode you get 105 cm of floor length; tumble fold row 2 (which still then has to be secured with straps and hooks) and you have 152 cm.

There are plenty of 4WDs which give you more floor than this, but the Cruiser's one metre floor to ceiling height is the telling dimension that allows it to swallow a heap of gear.

The full size spare still dangles under the rear, where it's secured by a chain.

Build and finish quality

The Cruiser is still made in Japan, so quality is not an issue. Some owners of the previous model had problems with the durability of its front suspension in arduous conditions, but this should now be cured with the new suspension on the 200 Series.

On the road

Fuel efficiency

Toyota quotes Australian standard test averages of 10.3 L/100km for the turbodiesel and 14.5 L/100 km for the petrol. CO2 emissions are 273gkm and 341gkm respectively; Green Vehicle Guide ratings are two and two and a half stars out of five. 

On he road, in a turbodiesel Sahara, we got 11-12 L/100 km on the highway and 16-19 L/10 km in town, after first verifying the accuracy of the trip computer.

Performance

The turbodiesel V8 is much more efficient than the petrol engine for the type of driving 'Cruiser owners will do, and the fuel bills - though still pretty steep by diesel standards - won't kill you. 

It sounds and feels a bit like a Chevy petrol V8 in its delivery and its sound. Low boost pulling power is good; when both turbos kick in at 2000rpm it delivers massive grunt that truly redefines the term "effortless." If you're looking for an engine that's tailor made for towing heavy loads, this is it. 

However, there is also a band of pronounced vibration, felt through the wheel, around the 2000rpm mark. 

On the open road it's as quiet as a petrol engine. 

The six speed automatic works with such smoothness and efficiency that you don't even notice it doing its job most of the time. Low range locks out the top two ratios, and with the centre diff locked almost nothing will stop you.

Handling and steering

The 200 Series suspension (with KDSS) feels considerably firmer than before, both in the spring rates and the dampers. Body movement is better controlled, and the back end no longer feels underdamped. It can still kick and twitch a little on corrugations - as with any live axle rear suspension - but stability at speed on a rough dirt road is much improved. 

The KDSS suspension works well on bitumen, where the Cruiser displays minimal body roll for such a tall, heavy wagon. The latest Grandtreks offer better grip than their predecessors too. 

Only an idiot would drive the Cruiser hard in tight bends, where an aggressive approach will soon see the stability control system kicking in. This is as it should be, because any instability in a vehicle of this mass and height needs to be quickly and emphatically arrested before you end up on your roof. 

On dirt, though, its adaptive feature permits an appropriately higher intervention threshold.

Ride

The ride, though firmer than previously, is absorbent, comfortable and very quiet.

Braking

The brakes have ample power and early bite, essential for short stopping distances in such a heavy vehicle. There's excessive front end dive under hard braking though.

Smoothness and quieteness

A highlight. The 200 Series is as quiet inside at highway speeds as many luxury cars. The only issue is the previously mentioned vibration from the turbodiesel at around 2000rpm.

Summary

The Landcruiser has evolved into a very specialised vehicle for towing and outback touring. In these two applications, it has no peer, but $80,000 for the GXL turbo diesel is very expensive given the value available elsewhere in rivals like the Nissan Patrol and Toyota's own Landcruiser Prado.

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