THE Land Cruiser 79 would have to be the most versatile long-term test car I’ve run in 15 years of doing this job.
It’s certainly one of the most off-road capable, second only to a Wrangler Rubicon (yet it hauls a load far better and bigger than the Jeep).
Without any accessories fitted to improve its off-road ability, the Cruiser went just about anywhere we pointed it. Even on its OE tyres, it coped well with wet and slippery tracks in the High Country – tracks that forced us to turn back because of some of the other cars in the convoy.
This is due, in part, to the inclusion of electronic traction control on the Toyota 70 Series and the way it’s calibrated. Electronic Traction Control is an easy feature for a manufacturer to include on any car with ABS, yet it’s the calibration of the system that determines how well it works. Just like they did on the current Hilux Extra-Cab, the engineers at Toyota nailed the ETC calibration on the Cruiser, making it an easier vehicle to manoeuvre over tricky and slippery terrain.
And when the going gets tough, the 79 still has its front and rear locking diffs as back up.
The Cruiser did a bit of hauling during its six months with us. First up was the comparison with the Mercedes-Benz G300 Professional, where we stuck a tonne on the back of each and took them off-road. The Cruiser barely raised a sweat at that weight, but it did reveal that a suspension upgrade would be a smart addition if you were pulling that weight regularly.
There were also trips carrying camping gear, firewood, furniture, bikes and even a go-kart.
Some highlights of living with the Cruiser included the camping trips to the High Country. Being able to roam solo around the steep and scenic tracks with the knowledge the vehicle was up to the challenge was always reassuring, and it made touring those places much more enjoyable. Also, having a ute makes it easy to throw a fridge, swag, axe or camping box in the back for a quick Friday arvo getaway.
As winter approaches, it’s those escapes in the Cruiser that we’ll miss.
THING WE LOVED ABOUT THE CRUISER
All ’round, effortless ability
Updated seats and features
Dependable and unstoppable feeling
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
The new top gear is good, but a sixth would still be better
Better placement of rear number plate
More power from the 1VD engine
TOTAL KM: 8754km
DATE ACQUIRED: DEC, 2016
KM THIS MONTH: 483KM
AV FUEL: 13.7L/100km