The sixth version of the luxury-orientated Land Cruiser is now available in South Africa and forges a path forward while somehow managing to remain true to its roots.
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As flagship models go, there’s no denying that the presence of the Toyota Land Cruiser is up there with the best. Not many manufacturers can claim to have a halo model that is as globally renowned as the venerable Land Cruiser. From the dunes of Saudi Arabia to the Australian Outback, the Land Cruiser is revered and celebrated, even here on our shores. The only anomaly is the United States where the latest 300 Series Land Cruiser will not be sold.
The release of the J300 Toyota Land Cruiser late last year didn’t go unnoticed by the South African public either and the addition of a Gazoo Racing (GR) Sport model satiates our local penchant for performance vehicles, even if that performance is geared towards off-road abilities. One only has to look at the interest in the Ineos Grenadier to see what the locals love.
The one thing that Toyota nailed was the presence of the Land Cruiser. Large and imposing, there’s no mistaking the 300 Series for anything but a Land Cruiser. It’s a hefty beast but Toyota worked tirelessly to ensure that it was slimmed down when it hit the scales. Utilizing a new TNGA-F ladder chassis to appease the purists, Toyota managed to shave off 200 kg from the preceding 200 Series, improving performance and more overly, efficiency. As the world continues its plight to make vehicles more fuel-efficient, it’s pleasing to see that Toyota has remained true to its Land Cruiser heritage and forgone the electrification route and focussed its energy on creating a more efficient vehicle that is still powered by fossil fuels.
While heavily revised, the styling of the new 300 Series remains true to the Land Cruiser design philosophy and features the instantly recognisable two-box design that fans have come to love. While the 100 and 200 Series versions rounded the corners and endeavoured to improve aerodynamics, the 300 Series carries a distinct nod to the 60 and 80 Series models of yesteryear. Ever wondered why these large SUVs have a myriad of horizontal lines, especially at the front?
Horizontal lines feature everywhere but it’s the strong, solid foundations of roofs, walls, roads and the horizon itself that imply a strength. Horizontal lines are also calming to the human psyche and draw the eyes lengthways down a form. There’s no shortage of them on the front end of the 300 Series and the strong horizontal elements of the new grille mimic those of a farm gate or a livestock paddock.
The pronounced power bulges on the bonnet and the defined arches give the 300 Series a muscular presence and while the body is completely redesigned, Toyota has ensured that all its off-road prowess has been retained and customers will still enjoy an approach angle of up to 32-degrees (GX-R), 26.5-degree departure angle, and a ground clearance of 235 mm. The ZX grade, the replacement for the VX-R grade, concentrates its efforts on styling and as such is shod with 20-inch alloy wheels
Space & Interior
The three different grades, GX-R, ZX, and GR Sport all provide a different solution to the Land Cruiser problem. The first offers you a utilitarian solution while our test model, the ZX, appeals to those looking for something a touch more luxurious. As such, it’s a two-tone leather and wood affair and one would not choose the words ‘delicate’ or ‘feminine’ in its description. It’s decidedly ‘blokey’ with strong, hard lines, appealing angles and strong switchgear.
The ZX grade combines the utilitarian design with soft-touch, opulent finishes that feel wonderful to the touch. Perforated leather seats are sumptuous and inviting while the wide centre console separates the driver and front passenger, giving them more than adequate shoulder room. It’s easy for this 5’9 lightweight to see why the typical broad-shouldered South African gravitates toward the Land Cruiser.
The ‘Cruiser has seating for 7 and where you were given a third row that split and folded upwards to either side of the rear compartment, the new TNGA-F platform allows for the third row to be folded forward (electronically) in a more traditional manner. This gives you 250 mm more width to work with and while the higher floor sees you with less volume overall (290-litres), the loss when utilising the third row is diminished. The 200 Series would give you 116-litres in 7-seater configuration while the new 300 Series gives you 135-litres in the same arrangement.
Comfort & Convenience
There’s no point in being a flagship model if you can’t cater for the occupants and there’s no shortage of creature comforts and convenience features in the new 300. 4-zone climate control with automatic function for the second row ensures that everyone can travel in comfort. This is further complemented by second-row seat heaters and air conditioning. The driver and front passenger are treated to the same conveniences and have electric seats to help them get comfortable. This equipment is standard fare on the ZX grade.
The ZX grade also gets a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple Carplay and wireless charging. There are several USB ports scattered around the cabin to help ensure that everyone’s devices can stay charged and with Toyota Connect, they can all access the WiFi HotSpot and stay connected. Not that the second-row passengers will be needing that as the ZX grade has rear-seat entertainment consisting of two 11.6-inch seatback-mounted screens with headphone and HDMI ports accessible from the centre console.
The one aspect that some die-hard fans may reject is the omission of the V8 powerplant in the new Land Cruiser J300. Toyota elected to downsize from a V8 to a turbocharged V6, citing that it provides the best blend of efficiency and performance. Available in the new 300 is a 3.3-litre turbocharged diesel engine that produces 225 kW and 700 Nm torque, considerably more than the 4.5-litre diesel that was offered in the 200 Series.
Additionally, customers can now choose from a petrol derivative too with a 3.5-litre turbocharged petrol V6 that is good for 305 kW and 650 Nm torque. This was the engine fitted to our test model and we can attest to its prowess. While not as guttural as one may perhaps have liked, it still had the ability to make the large SUV feel sprightly. The torque delivery, while not peaking as low as the diesel derivative, still allowed the Land Cruiser to creep and crawl over off-road obstacles with ease.
Much of this can also be attributed to the developments in the Land Cruiser’s suspension and AWD system. The Multi-Terrain Select function allows you to select from one of 5 different programs that will see the Toyota AIM (AWD Integrated Management) adjust various aspects of the steering, brakes, throttle, gearbox and torque split to help give you the best possible traction. Drivers can select the rather intuitive Auto mode and allow the Land Cruiser to do its thing as well for effortless off-roading.
Drive is sent to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
When it’s the vehicle of choice for Saudi Shiekhs you have to concede that a fuel bill isn’t something that is taken into account. Locally, even the well-heeled will think twice about choosing a vehicle with a drinking habit akin to a fish. Thankfully the approach that Toyota has taken with the new 300 Series sees it lighter on the juice than before. The 3.3-litre diesel is said to return a combined fuel consumption average of 8.9 l/100km while the 3.5-litre petrol is significantly higher at 12.1 l/100km. We were averaging mid 15s with a fairly heavy foot and predominantly urban routes.
The ‘Cruiser is equipped with an 80-litre fuel tank with a secondary tank of 30-litres supplementing that. This allows for a theoretical range of 1236 km for the diesel model and 909 km for the petrol model.
Hot-stamped material and lightweight aluminium are combined in the construction of the 300 Series to not only reduce weight but improve the rigidity of the body shell. This provides a safer environment for passengers. Furthermore, the Land Cruiser is fitted with a host of safety systems including no fewer than 7 airbags with ZX and GR-Sport models receiving a total of 9 airbags. These work in conjunction with the Toyota Safety Sense 2 semi-autonomous system that includes features such as night-time pedestrian and cyclist detection with automatic braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Trace Assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
The standard array of ABS, EBD, EBA, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Hill Assist and Downhill Assist Control can still be found in the new Land Cruiser as well.
Pricing for the J300 Toyota Land Cruiser is competitive when one weighs it against the opposition. The Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.3D GX-R is the starting point in the range and retails for R1 321 700.
|Model||Price (incl. VAT)|
|Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.3D GX-R||R1 321 700|
|Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.3D ZX||R1 818 500|
|Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.5T ZX||R1 851 000|
|Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.3D GR Sport||R1 866 300|
|Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.5T GR Sport||R1 898 200|
Selecting competitors for the Toyota Land Cruiser comes down to how you’d like to compare them. If you’re looking for a road-biased competitor you’ll be looking in the direction of the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X7, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class but if you’re aiming for the off-road adventures, consideration needs to be given to the Land Rover Defender and Discovery. At sub-R2-million you have a a wide variety of large SUVs to choose from but very few carry the heritage of the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser.
I had to ask myself if the Land Cruiser would be the one that I would spend my money on and truthfully, it’s a no from me. That’s largely because I’m not in the market for a large, off-road SUV and if I was, the Defender 110 has that something special that the Land Cruiser lacks. I know that’s my heart talking and if faced with the genuine choice to make, with my own money, it would probably be the Toyota that I opt for. There’s something about the dependability and durability of a Land Cruiser that screams, “Smart Money”.