At last, the new 300 Series Toyota LandCruiser is on its way
BY CALLUM HUNTER
THE Toyota LandCruiser is a vehicle that needs no introduction; it is the definitive off-roader with a legacy forged from decades of success and capability, not to mention the bulletproof mechanicals.
A new LandCruiser is a big deal not just in Australia, but globally, and it’s been 14 years between drinks for diehard fans, not including the facelifts and special editions.
The new 300 Series LandCruiser is roughly the same size as the outgoing 200 Series but Toyota says the new model is 100kg lighter than its predecessor as well as stiffer and more capable thanks to its new TNGA underpinnings.
Another factor contributing to these enhanced capabilities is the extended suspension travel and enhanced articulation meaning the big SUV can maintain better contact with the ground and keep plugging onwards.
Engineers also set about developing a new ‘Multi Terrain Select’ function that automatically judges the road surface and selects the most appropriate driving mode.
Other new technology will include an optional electronic ‘Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System’ (e-KDSS) – electronic sway bar disconnector – and a new ‘Multi-Terrain Monitor’ designed to help improve off-road visibility, however we reckon this could also come in handy when parking.
Despite its new TNGA underpinnings, the 300 Series still boasts the classic body-on-frame architecture that lends itself to heavy-duty off-road use and a 3.5-tonne (at least) braked towing capacity.
The shape of the bumpers and light positions have been designed to avoid damage while off-road, with the approach and departure angles both being broadly similar to the outgoing 200 Series.
While the design is still definitively LandCruiser – big and boxy – the changes under the bonnet are among the most drastic with the fabled twin-turbo V8 diesel mill being ditched in favour of a new force-fed six.
Don’t despair though, because while it may be down two cylinders and 1200cc of capacity on the outgoing mill, the new 3.3-litre V6 (twin-turbo diesel) donk churns out 227kW of power and 700Nm of torque – 27kW and 50Nm more than the V8.
Paired exclusively with a new 10-speed automatic transmission, Toyota says the bent six-banger will deliver “noticeably lower fuel consumption” and emit less CO2, however the brand is yet to release official figures.
The story doesn’t end there however; overseas markets will have also access to a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre petrol engine good for a mighty 305kW/650Nm – also paired with the new 10-speed auto.
While it’s yet to be confirmed officially, GoAuto understands the petrol-powered versions will shave another 100kg of the LandCruiser’s kerb weight compared to the diesels with a hybrid option also reportedly on the cards.
Being a new-generation vehicle, Toyota has thrown the kitchen sink at the 300 Series in terms of safety features with all versions to come with the latest Toyota Safety Sense active safety package that now includes a new pre-collision system capable of detecting both pedestrians (day and night) and cyclists (day).
Other headline safety features are vehicle and pedestrian detection at intersections, including when turning, as well as an emergency steering and crash-avoidance function.
Toyota Motor Company Australia’s sales, marketing and franchise operations vice president Sean Hanley said the LandCruiser development team had taken “extensive input from Australian owners who have experience in some of the world's harshest environments”.
“The new LandCruiser range brings improved design and advanced new technologies that advance its performance in all conditions while enhancing its comfort, convenience and safety as a luxury vehicle,” he said.
More than 10.4 million LandCruisers have been sold globally since the inception of the original BJ (including the 70 Series and Prado), of which 1.12 million were delivered to Australia.
Despite wide knowledge of the 300 Series looming large and due for a local introduction within the next six months or so, Aussie car-buyers still can’t get enough of the 200 Series, even with the demand-driven price hikes.
Through the first six months of this year, 11,621 examples of the 200 Series have been delivered – 1450 more than the smaller, more economical and more affordable Prado.