2018 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series Range Review

The 70 Series Toyota LandCruiser is built as tough as they come for 4WD working roles. There is a five-seat wagon, single and double cab utes and the Troop Carrier.

2017 Toyota 70 Series GXL Double-Cab
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Can’t kill it with an axe
Not so much
  •   It’s a truck, and it drives like one

What stands out?

The 70 Series Toyota LandCruiser is built as tough as they come for a range of commercial four-wheel drive roles. Some models are family friendly, but only if you want a big but basic vehicle. Distinctly different variants cover a spectrum of uses, from farm truck to mine transporter and outback tour vehicle.

Toyota improved driveability, comfort and safety in the 70 series significantly in November 2016. 4x4 Australia magazine named the 70 Series Double-Cab its 2017 4x4 of the Year.

What might bug me?

At highway speeds, engine and wind noise.

That you have to change gears yourself: the 70 Series does not offer auto transmission.

That the rear wheels of your 70 Series LandCruiser are spaced closer together than those up front. That means the rear tyres don’t quite ride in the front wheeltracks on soft surfaces such as sand or mud. The result is unnecessary rolling resistance.

The rough, truck-like ride and imprecise handling, compared with 4WD wagons that place a higher priority on family use.

That your 70 Series LandCruiser does not offer any airbag protection to people riding in the rear seats. In addition, only the 79 Single-Cab trayback provides airbag protection from side impacts to people in the front seats. (Almost all other 4WD wagons and dual-cabs supply curtain airbags at head level that protect passengers front and rear in side crashes.) For more on 70 Series safety features, please open the Safety section below.

What body styles are there?

The 70 Series LandCruiser comes in four different bodies. The most family friendly models are the four-door, five-seat wagon (the 76 Series), and the four-door, five-seat Double-Cab trayback ute (the 79 Series).

Also part of the 79 Series is a two-seat Single-Cab farm and work truck. Neither the Single-Cab nor the Double-Cab has a factory tub at the rear, but Toyota offers various trays at additional cost. Buyers can also fit after-market trays.

You can also opt for the two-door Troop Carrier van, which has two seats up front and the option of a forward-facing bench seat in the rear for up to three more passengers. (The sideways-facing rear benches that gave the vehicle its name, each seating up to four, were retired with the upgrade of November 2016.) This is the 78 Series.

All models have part-time four-wheel drive with dual-range gearing. Part-time 4WD means you must use a 70 Series in rear-wheel drive on sealed surfaces but may switch manually to 4WD on soft, loose or otherwise slippery surfaces. Dual-range gearing allows you to select a second set of lower 4WD gear ratios. These allow you to drive comfortably at very slow speeds on rough ground.

The 76 and 78 Series LandCruisers are classed as upper large SUVs, lower priced. The 79 Series is classed as a light commercial cab-chassis 4WD.

What features do all 70 Series LandCruisers have?

Two front bucket seats, tilt and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, a radio and CD player, and Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice-recognition control. USB and auxiliary inputs for the audio system, and a 12-volt outlet.

Cruise control. A fuel tank that holds at least 130 litres.

A snorkel-style, pillar-mounted engine-air intake, which helps prevent water from entering the engine when crossing creeks.

Sidesteps, which make it easier to get in and out of the high-riding cabin.

Hill-start assist, which helps you start from rest on steep slopes by controlling the brakes automatically.

Active traction control (Toyota calls it A-TRC), which can apply the brake on any wheel to control wheelspin – often a big help when off road.

Electronic stability control, which can help you drive out of a slide.

All 70 Series LandCruisers have at least two airbags (in front of the driver and front-seat passenger), and anti-lock brakes.

All 70 Series models come with a 100,000km, three-year warranty, and offer fixed-price servicing for the first three years.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

Only one engine is fitted across the entire the 70 Series range. It’s a 4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel, which produces excellent pulling power from very low speeds.

However it is not so strong at highway speeds. The engine is designed and geared for low-speed hard work, and not for easy highway cruising. (While it is the same size and layout as the diesel in the LandCruiser 200 wagon, a 200 has half again as much grunt.)

The 70 Series diesel was revised very mildly for the upgrade of November 2016, to meet tougher emissions standards. It does not produce any more power than before, but it uses a bit less fuel.

In the official test it uses 10.7 litres/100km. In the real world it is thirstier, using 12 to 14 litres/100km.

Only one gearbox is available, a five-speed manual. Second and fifth gear were lengthened in November 2016, the latter by about 15 per cent. The result is an engine that spins a bit slower when you are cruising down the highway.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly 70 Series LandCruisers, the WorkMates, run on 16-inch steel wheels and have vinyl seats and floors. In a Single Cab you can spend more for a GX, which has flashier aluminium alloy wheels and wider tyres, and flared mudguards to accommodate the tyres.

In any body style you can spend more again on a GXL, which gets you a chrome-look front bumper and grille (rather than black), remote locking and unlocking, power windows, cloth seats, front foglamps, and (except in a Troop Carrier) carpet on the floor.

The GXLs also have the alloy wheels and wider tyres, on all but one version. The exception is the Troop Carrier, which retains the steel wheels and narrower tyres of WorkMate models.

All 70 Series GXLs have driver-engaged differential locks on both front and rear axles. These help you go a lot further in extreme off road conditions. The differential locks are available as an option on the GX Single-Cab chassis and WorkMate Double-Cab chassis. (They are not available on other Workmate models.)

Air-conditioning is an extra-cost option on all models.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The alloy wheels are not as easily repaired as the steel wheels if damaged – for example, by big potholes or rocks. (Since the upgrade of November 2016, the steel wheels mount tubeless tyres and no longer use a split-rim design – which had made it easier to remove a tyre from the rim.)

The wider tyres fitted to the alloy wheels can be more damage-prone in severe off-road conditions than the narrower tyres, and are less effective in some driving conditions.

The power windows on the more expensive models add complexity, which could be relevant for some uses.

White, sandy brown and dark blue are standard colours. Four other colours are extra-cost options.

How comfortable is the LandCruiser 70 Series?

It’s a big step up to a 70 Series cabin, and once there you sit very upright in a tall, roomy and truck-like space. It’s spartan but still comfortable, and the driver gets the benefit of tilt and reach steering wheel adjustment, a rare feature in a commercial-style vehicle. The upgrade of November 2016 improved the front seats.

Big, clearly marked switches and relatively light controls make this an easy vehicle to use.

The high cabin and low window line also make for great vision.

On the road the 70 is very low geared, which means you’re up into top gear very quickly. With this low gearing and the big power at slow engine speeds, you can use top gear from not much above walking pace. If you are carrying only a light load, you can skip gears when accelerating to highway speeds – without losing any performance.

The downside of the low gearing is that the engine revs quite hard and roars at open-road speeds. Since November 2016 a taller top gear has allowed the diesel a more comfortable gait – top is now roughly equivalent to the fifth gear in a six-speed auto LandCruiser 200, for example – but when you add wind noise from the upright windscreen, and from the A-pillar mounted air-intake snorkel, the highway experience remains less than relaxing.

What about safety in a LandCruiser 70 Series?

Ironically if you want a family vehicle for remote-area touring, the safest 70 Series carries only two passengers. That is the 79 Single-Cab ute, a fixture on mining fleets and the only 70 Series model to receive a five-star rating from safety authority ANCAP.

Safety in all 70 Series vehicles was improved with the upgrade of November 2016. But the 79 Single-Cab was improved more than others.

The main safety enhancement applied to all models was the addition of electronic stability control, which since 2014 has been mandatory on new passenger cars (but not on commercial vehicles). It can help you avoid losing control of a skidding vehicle (by controlling the brake on each wheel independently).

A related addition is electronic brake-force distribution, which makes sure each tyre is using all available grip when you want to stop in a hurry. This too has long been ubiquitous on passenger cars.

Also a safety improvement, especially in steep off-road driving, is the addition of Hill start assist, which helps you take off on uphill slopes (by controlling the brakes automatically). Toyota says it will work even when you are carrying a big load or towing a trailer.

All 70 Series models have two airbags up front, protecting the heads of the driver and front passenger in a frontal crash. (Only the 79 Single-Cab has other airbags.) All have seatbelt reminders on the front seats.

The 79 Single-Cab has, in addition, a frontal airbag for the driver at knee level, and curtain airbags on each side at head height that help in side-crashes, for a total of five.

The Single-Cab also has new seats that protect you better from whiplash injuries if you are struck from behind, and a revised chassis and steering mechanism that make it more likely you will walk away from a crash.

A reversing camera is not available even as an option on any 70 Series model.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the 79 Single-Cab five stars for safety, its maximum, in October 2016. The 79 Dual-Cab and other 70 Series models have not been rated.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

You might not. If you require effortless and precise progress, this is not an enjoyable car – at least on the road. The roadholding, steering and handling don’t inspire much confidence. Cab-chassis models also have a very hard ride unless there’s weight in the tray.

But if you appreciate a big, airy cabin with a high driving-seat and superior vision, then any variant of the 70 can’t be beaten as a place from which to take in countryside of all kinds. The longer gearing since the update just adds to the pleasure.

And you can go where you like. Any 70 Series LandCruiser is near unstoppable off-road, especially when equipped with the front and rear diff locks that are either standard or optional on most of them. Thus equipped, the 70 Series is the ultimate vehicle for exploring the most remote parts of Australia. In that environment it is a very enjoyable car to drive, given the enormous go-anywhere security it offers.

How is life in the rear seats?

Rear cabins in the 76 Wagon, 79 Dual-Cab and 78 Troop Carrier have upright but comfortable seats and offer excellent headroom and reasonable leg room. The centre passenger only has a lap seat-belt, rather than a lap-sash belt.

How is it for carrying stuff?

Being a commercial vehicle, the 70 Series is an excellent load carrier. The Single-Cab chassis, with a payload of about 1220kg (driver, passengers and tray included), can carry the most.

The 76 Wagon, with a payload of 780kg (driver and passengers included) can carry the least.

These payload figures are what the vehicle is rated to carry, but in real-world conditions the 70 fares better than most other vehicles with similar theoretical capacities. (Nevertheless, use caution if you want to drive with loads approaching these limits.)

The box-style bodies of the 76 Wagon and 78 Troop Carrier are also very space efficient and give an enormous cargo volume. The Troop Carrier can hold more than the wagon, because its wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear axles – is 250mm longer. Cab-chassis models have a longer wheelbase again.

All 70 Series LandCruisers are rated to tow up to 3500kg with a braked trailer, which matches any other 4WD wagon or ute.

Where is the LandCruiser 70 Series made?

All 70 Series Toyota LandCruisers are built in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

The only direct rival for the LandCruiser 70 Series has been the Land Rover Defender, produced in a range of models like the LandCruiser. However, Land Rover stopped building new Defenders in January 2016.

The Indian Mahindra Pik-Up is another cab-chassis alternative.

If you are looking for a big 4WD in which to tour remote areas, then alternatives include the Toyota LandCruiser 200 (in particular the workaday GX version) and Prado, Ford Everest, and Holden Trailblazer.

Are there plans to update the LandCruiser 70 Series soon?

No. The 70 Series gained its turbocharged V8 diesel engine in 2007, front airbags in 2009, and anti-lock brakes in 2013. About November 2016 all Single-Cabs gained what they needed for a five-star ANCAP safety rating, which included revisions to the front of the chassis, relocated steering, and three additional airbags. At the same time, the Single-Cab and the remaining 70 Series models got electronic stability control, Active traction control, better front seats, and a taller top gear. That upgrade is likely the last you will see for a while.

Despite being such an old model there is still plenty of life left in the 70 Series. It won 4X4 Magazine's 2017 4x4 of the Year. And in September 2017 Toyota confirmed it's place in the Australian market is assured because of continued demand from the mining sector.

I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?

The best family vehicle here is the 76 Series Wagon in GXL spec – unless you want a dual-cab ute, in which case the pick is the 79 Series GXL Double-Cab.
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Can’t kill it with an axe
Not so much
  •   It’s a truck, and it drives like one


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