The Toyota Land Cruiser has long been a bastion for all things agricultural. A mere mention of the moniker conjures up imagery of open land, khaki pants, sheep and shotguns. It makes no bones about what it is: the ultimate workhorse. Of course, the Land Cruiser 70 has been employed by those other than Old MacDonald.
The United Nations uses it in many of their operations and in the Australian outback, we’re told that you can’t get around in anything but a Land Cruiser.
It wasn’t broken, so it didn’t need fixing. For this year however, Toyota has endowed the iconic warrior with more convenience and safety features, in addition to adding a new double cab offering to the line-up.
Move aside, Nissan Navara – this is the real definition of tough. Bar for a few chrome embellishments here and there, not much has changed with the aesthetics of the Cruiser 70: it’s still boxy, butch and intimidating enough to make the made-up face of television’s Ashley Dowds grimace in fear.
Inside, more generously equipped models get a new colour-screen display, with navigation and accommodation for your USB memory stick and SD card. This new piece of kit looks out of place among the archaic switchgear which seems derived from a 1980s Corolla. We suppose it adds a 21st Century charm to things. Air-conditioning has also been made standard across the board.
Leslie Long, Toyota South Africa’s manager for marketing planning explained that the fitment of anti-lock brakes and disc brakes all-round was part of the plan to get the Land Cruiser a five-star rating in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash tests.
Sitting tall behind the wheel of the square beast, one certainly feels able to conquer everything.
The Cruiser proved its mettle on the jagged rocks of the Minwater 4x4 trail just outside of Oudtshoorn. It sailed past the assortment of sharp rocks and massive boulders without hesitance. And on the rare occasions of incapacitation, it freed itself – courtesy of the diff lock and low-range gearbox.
Even after a nasty fall on its side, leaving one colleague shaken – but not hurt – the Toyota Land Cruiser managed to pick itself up off the ground with minor cosmetic damage, to be started up and driven for the remainder of the press launch.
After experiencing its supreme competence off-road, the Cruiser’s behavior on tarmac can be forgiven, maybe even tolerated. The steering lacks accuracy and has a great deal of play and its leaf suspension imparts every bump and road imperfection through to passengers. But we love the clunky, direct nature of gear-shifts – it makes one feel hairy-chested and manly – and the pedals, which offer assuring feel. We also think cruise control should be made available.
Later in the year Toyota will be adding a V8 turbocharged diesel to the range. For now, you can take your pick from a V6 petrol or 4.2-litre diesel powerplant. The latter is the less powerful of the two, with a miserly 96kW on tap. It propels the hefty Land Cruiser sedately, although it is surprisingly quiet and limited in terms of vibration. Brisk performance is offered by the 170kW 4.0-litre V6, which would be the more feasible choice if you have applications like towing in mind.
You can have the Land Cruiser in single cab, station wagon and double cab body-styles. With the more practical double cab, Toyota hopes to pander to the buyer who’ll use his Land Cruiser as a workhorse in the week, then as a leisure vehicle on the weekends. Rear space isn’t generous, however and we can’t help but wonder: wouldn’t the cheaper Hilux serve better, with its more refined cabin and road manners?
But despite the Cruiser’s asking price (see below), it’s not difficult to see why countless business, land owners and those involved in agriculture opt for it. The Land Cruiser is a veritable worker, enduring in nature and able to mow down almost anything in its path. It certainly plays its part in keeping the wheels of many enterprises turning. And though it may have a khaki image, it seems the Cruiser will never go out of fashion.
2013 Land Cruiser 70 Pricing
79 Pick-Up Single Cab (R417 900)
79 Pick-Up Double Cab (R463 900)
76 Station Wagon (R506 700)
STORY BY BRENWIN NAIDU