RUGGED RIDE BACK IN TIME FOR LAND CRUISER

My first impression on viewing Queensland Rail’s wooden carriages in the 1970s was of rolling stock of some tribute to historic transport. The Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Series recently had a similar first-up effect.

ToyotaÆs latest version of the legendary large four-wheel-drive wagon looks as rugged as ever. None of the modern SUV sports coupe affectation here – the bold squared-off two-box layout lives.

To be fair, the MY2020 model, especially the range-topping Sahara seven-seater on test, is replete with modern automotive technology, including Toyota’s Safety Sense on road and a multi-terrain system with various off-road drive modes, a multi-terrain monitor, crawl control (low-speed off-road cruise control) and hill descent control.

The straight Sahara comes to market from $124,396, plus on road costs, while a limited edition (400 units only) tops out the range at $129,090. Premium paint adds $600.

STYLING

Little has changed over the years. There are no sleek curves or sharp creases of the crossover SUV here, just bullish heft and a forceful presence of a 4WD.

As befits an upper-echelon model, up front on the Sahara are daytime running lights, at the rear a horizontal-split power tailgate, up top a moonroof, side steps, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

INTERIOR

Woodgrain-look adorns the steering wheel and can be found throughout the cabin. Rubber mats are a match for muddy boots and easily removed for cleaning.

Front seats are ventilated, front and second row heated, driver’s seat has memory settings and a cool box sits between the front seats. Climate-control air-conditioning covers four zones.

Middle-row occupants are no second-class passengers, with plenty of comfort and convenience clobber, including air-conditioning with directional air vents, outer-seat warmers and folding centre armrest securing the DVD remote and a tray to carry it or a phone. Lighting adds to the ambiance.

Storage consists of door pockets and mesh on the back of the driver and front passenger seats. The third row of seats fold up to the sides of the cargo area compromising the claimed 1276 litres of space.

The action of folding and unfolding the 50/50 split seats is far from easy with manual operation only û no power assistance. Disappointing in a vehicle of the SaharaÆs premium price.

Getting in and out of the back seats is much easier thanks to a wide-opening door and side steps. Once seated, space is limited and the seats lack support. Leave them for the youngsters.

INFOTAINMENT

The absence of aircraft cockpit-style virtual instrumentation û analogue dials here – adds to the dated feel of cabin surroundings.

The multimedia system is a mix of 9-inch touchscreen, and switches and controls just waiting to be simplified. Twin 11.6-inch entertainment screens are incorporated in the back of front-seat headrests and are within sight of both rows of rear passengers. Headphones are on hand.

Infotainment includes aá9-inch touchscreen multimedia system with satellite navigation and 11.6-inch entertainment screens for rear passengers, plus a nine-speaker audio system. Connectivity is lacking with no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto but there is a wireless smartphone charger.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS

The 200 Series has a 4.5-litre V8átwin-turbo diesel engine delivering 200 kW of power at 3600 rpm and 650 Nm of torque between 1600 and 2600 revs.

A six-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive with limited-slip differential are complemented by a generous list of driver assistance systems.

SAFETY

The 200 Series gained its five-star ANCAP rating years ago and since has continued to keep up with the technology, including adding blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and multi-terrain monitor.

There are ten airbags, IsoFix points on the two outer seats and three top-tether child restraint anchorages.

DRIVING

ItÆs easy to understand Land CruiserÆs longevity by looking at the vehicleÆs versatility, performing well on and off road.

Cruiser by name, cruiser by nature, it is at home loping along the open road, or getting to grips with hard going in the bush, although the V8 does take some feeding.

On test, the Sahara consumed low nines in litres per hundred kilometres on the highway, while in town it almost doubled that. The 93-litre main fuel tank and its 45-litre sub tank give it a decent range.

Efficient steering makes the big unit manageable in most situations on and off road, although the 11.8 metre turning circle makes life tricky when working in limited space, especially when parking.

The Sahara boasts KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) acting like a sway-bar on the bitumen, reducing body roll and improving handling in general. Off road, it adjusts to suit terrain and maximise stability.

The multi terrain select enables the driver to dial up five different modes – mud and sand, loose rock, mogul, rock and dirt and rock û that adjust things like traction control to suit the going.

SUMMING UP

The traditional off-road fan canÆt help to find something to love about the 200 Series Land Cruiser, while those who donÆt want to leave creature comforts and advanced technology behind can land on the Sahara at a cost. ItÆs rugged, yet refined.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE (200 Series)

Toyota Land Cruiser GX 4.5 diesel automatic $80,996
Toyota Land Cruiser GXL 4.5 diesel auto $92,696
Toyota Land Cruiser VX 4.5 diesel auto $103,396
Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara 4.5 diesel auto $124,396
Toyota Land Cruiser Sahara Horizon 4.5 diesel auto $129,090
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota 4.5-litre V8 turbocharged common-rail direct injection diesel, 6sp automatic, 4×4, 5dr SUV)

ENGINE:

Capacity: 4.461 litres

Configuration: Eight cylinders, V8 configuration

Maximum Power: 200 kW @ 3600 rpm

Maximum Torque: 650 Nm @ 1600-2600 rpm

Fuel Type: Diesel

Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 9.5 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Automatic 6-speed Electronic Control Transmission with Artificial Intelligence Shift Control and Sequential Shift

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:

Length: 4990 mm

Wheelbase: 2850 mm

Width: 1980 mm

Height: 1970 mm

Turning Circle: 11.8 metres

Kerb Mass: 2740 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity: 93 litres (main), 45 litres (sub)

BRAKES:

Front: Ventilated disc

Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:

Five years / unlimited kilometres

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