2015 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series Review

Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series Dual Cab

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
Expand Section

Safety, value & features

3 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProCan’t kill it with an axe.

  2. ConIt’s a truck, and it drives like one.

  3. The Pick: 2016 Toyota LandCruiser GXL (4x4) 4D Wagon

What stands out?

Expand Section

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 and very basic vehicle. Distinctly different variants cover a spectrum of uses, from farm truck to mine transporter and outback tour vehicle.

What might bug me?

Expand Section

The rough, truck-like ride and handling, and the fact that the engine is noisy and busy at highway speeds.

What body styles are there?

Expand Section

The 70 Series LandCruiser comes in four different bodies. The most family friendly model is a four-door, five-seat wagon – the 76 Series. Buyers can also opt for the two-door Troop Carrier van, which has two seats up front and the option of sideways-facing bench seats in the rear. The benches each seat four people, for a total seating capacity of 10. This is the 78 Series. (If you don’t order the benches, you get just the front seats.) Finally, there are two cab-chassis utes: a two-seat single-cab farm and work truck, and a five-seat dual-cab. These are the 79 Series. None has a factory tub at the rear, but Toyota offers various trays at additional cost. Buyers can also fit after-market trays. All models have dual-range, part-time 4WD. 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?

Expand Section

Two front bucket seats, tilt and reach adjustment for the steering wheel, a CD player, and Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice-recognition control. USB and auxiliary inputs for the audio system, and a 12-volt outlet. Standard across the range is a snorkel-style, roof-mounted engine-air intake, which helps prevent water from entering the engine when crossing creeks. All models have sidesteps, which make it easier to get in and out of the high-riding cabin. All 70 Series LandCruisers have 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?

Expand Section

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. In the official test it uses 11.5 litres/100km in cab-chassis models and 11.9 litres/100km in the wagons and vans. In the real world it is thirstier, using 13 to 14 litres/100km. Only one gearbox is available, a five-speed manual.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Expand Section

The least costly 70 Series LandCruisers, the WorkMates, run on 16-inch steel wheels and have vinyl 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 front bumper and grille (rather than black), remote locking and unlocking, power windows, front foglamps, and 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 all WorkMate models. Air-conditioning is an extra-cost option on all models.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Expand Section

The alloy wheels are not as easily repaired as the steel wheels if damaged – for example, by big potholes or rocks. The steel wheels are also a split-rim design, which makes it a lot easier to remove a tyre from the rim if it needs to be replaced or repaired by the roadside. 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. Other colours are extra-cost options.

How comfortable is the LandCruiser 70 Series?

Expand Section

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. 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 hard and roars at open-road speeds. Add wind noise from the upright windscreen and the A-pillar mounted air-intake snorkel, and you have a driving experience that is less than relaxing.

What about safety in a LandCruiser 70 Series?

Expand Section

With only driver and passenger airbags and ABS brakes as safety features, all 70 Series LandCruisers get a Basic rating for safety. No 70 Series LandCruiser has electronic stability control, a feature that helps you control the vehicle in a skid or a slide. This feature is compulsory on passenger cars, but not (yet) on commercial vehicles such as the 70 Series. A reversing camera is not available even as an option on any 70 Series model. (To see a list of the safety features on any model, select the vehicle and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.) The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated only the LandCruiser 79 cab-chassis variants for safety, awarding three stars of a possible five. Neither the 76 Wagon nor the 78 Troop Carrier has been rated.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Expand Section

This is not an enjoyable car, at least on the road. The roadholding, steering and handling don’t inspire much confidence. Cab-chassis variants also have a very hard ride unless there’s weight in the tray. On the bright side, 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 all 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 if offers.

How is life in the rear seats?

Expand Section

The rear cabins of both the 76 Wagon and the 79 Dual-Cab, which are near identical in basic measurements, 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. The sideways facing rear bench seats, optional in the 78 Troop Carrier, are very basic but still have lap-style seat belts for all eight passengers. This variant is designed for commercial personnel transport.

How is it for carrying stuff?

Expand Section

Being a commercial vehicle, the 70 Series is an excellent load carrier. The Single-Cab chassis, with a payload of 1255kg (driver, passengers and tray not included), can carry the most. The 76 Wagon, with a payload of 780kg (driver and passengers not 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?

Expand Section

All 70 Series Toyota LandCruisers are built in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Expand Section

The only direct rival for the LandCruiser 70 Series is the Land Rover Defender, which is available in a range of models like the LandCruiser. The Defender has a more relaxed highway manner despite a much smaller engine. The Defender also has electronic stability control on every model. If you are considering a 79 Single Cab chassis, then look also at the Nissan Patrol Single Cab chassis. The Indian Mahindra Pik-Up is another cab-chassis alternative.

Are there plans to update the LandCruiser 70 Series soon?

Expand Section

Toyota has announced it will update its 70-Series LandCruisers in the second half of 2016, increasing the airbag count and adding electronic stability control and cruise control to all variants. It would be aiming for a five-star (maximum) safety rating from ANCAP. Toyota said the changes would secure the future of the 70 Series. The commercial, working-style vehicles had been under pressure from broadening safety regulation.

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

Expand Section

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 chassis. Other variants are aimed at commercial roles and are not family friendly.