Sometimes in this job you get surprised, not often mind you. Last week I had the LandCruiser GXL on test. Now I have driven plenty of LandCruisers before but this is the latest version released in late October 2015 and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
Let me state upfront that I am an ardent fan of the big off road beast having owned a few of them and one of our writers owns an old 80 series that is a weapon off road. So having declared this I was still surprised.
The surprise was in how well behaved the near on 3 tonne vehicle was on the road. I took the GXL out to the farm and on the hilly twisty Bells Line of Road it took to the road like a vehicle weighing much less. Don’t mistake my surprise to take it that the GXL was a sport car but it gripped the road, showed little body roll and the powerful V8 diesel sat in the torque band for a fun driving experience. It was surprisingly nimble for a beast.
Out on the highway west of Lithgow it was remarkably quiet with very little wind or road noise, cruised between 100 and 120kmh without effort and I arrived relaxed and was comfortable throughout. This is the GXL not the Sahara. I could actually see myself owning one of these again.
Most noticeably on the exterior changes is the new grille, projector halogen headlamps, bumper, bonnet and fenders at the front, LED low-beam headlamps with auto-levelling (static), LED clearance lamps, roof rails and a restyled rear that includes LED tail lamps. Thankfully the designers have got rid of the protruding glass that was a nightmare off road. The bonnet scoops are interesting and subtly reminds you of the hulking V8 beneath. The style seems to make the LandCruiser smaller than it actually is.
The interior on the GXL now has soft touch padding around the centre console in areas that come in direct contact with occupants’ legs. I’m not really a fan of the fabric as they tend to stick to clothing but are comfortable over the long run. There is however an electronic lumbar support that increases comfort.
The driver has a commanding view both internally and externally. The lower front bonnet really helps with tyre placement, rear visibility is great with the reversing camera and the external rear view mirrors are amongst the best in the business. The indicator, washer and cruise control stalks are visible behind the steering wheel as well.
The dash is clear and easy to read with two large white on black dials and transmission selector in between. One thing I did miss is the distance to empty calculator. The height and reach adjustable steering is thick and feels good in the hands and allows you to feel the road transmitted through, not vague like previous models.
The centre stack again is easy to understand but on the model I tested the touch screen was a pain as it required a hard push sometimes 2 or 3 pushes not soft touch. Centre console is tidy and the 4WD controls are a breeze to use. The GXL does have Sat Nav which is a bonus.
There is plenty of head room, leg room for the taller drivers and everything is neatly packaged. By far the best interior on a LandCruiser ever. The middle row of seats will sit 3 in comfort and with the low floor over the transmission tunnel foot room is great. The third row will seat 3 passengers that don’t mind their knees around their chest. There are AC outlets in the rear seats with dual zone controls for the front.
Boot space is compromised by the ridiculous fold up third row seats, seriously guys this is antiquated. Serious tourers will remove them immediately.
Safety is a feature with the 200 Series having a 5 star ANCAP safety rating. Features include:
seven airbags, vehicle stability and active traction control, multi-terrain anti-skid brakes, hill-start assist control, trailer sway control, an emergency brake signal.
The diesel engine has been slightly upgraded now producing power of 200Kw @ 3,600 rpm and torque of 650 Nm coming in at an early 1,600 rpm. That type of torque delivery makes for very relaxed highway driving, easy towing, controlled off road driving and surprising take off in the city. For its few shortcomings like oil usage, I love this engine and struggle to understand why anyone looking at this type of vehicle would buy a petrol V8.
This power is delivered through a smooth and robust electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel consumption has improved as well with combined cycle fuel consumption now just 9.5 litres/100km. Along with the addition of a particulate filter, CO2 emissions have improved to 250 grams/litre*.
There isn’t any need to talk about the LandCruiser’s off road ability or towing ability. Both are excellent.
The Landcruiser does have some shortcomings. Amongst these are a low load capacity with two or three passengers on board, excessive oil usage for the turbo diesel engine, spare tyre underneath where it can be scraped over rocks and fold up rear seats.
These pale into insignificance compared to the benefits of a powerful and economical diesel engine, awesome 4WD and towing ability, outstanding outback touring ability and comfort.
The LandCruiser 200 series 2015 upgrade still is the yardstick by which all other large off road 4WD’s are measured. Having driven the GXL I am looking forward to the Sahara and actually considering buying one again.
What is good!
- Powerful diesel engine
- Smooth ride and handling
- Towing and 4WD ability
What is not good!
- Underslung spare tyre
- No DTE for fuel usage
- Fold up rear seats
Model: Toyota LandCruiser GXL
Model Price: $94,849 RDAP
Engine: 4.5 L V8 TD
Drivetrain: 4WD 6 speed auto
Power: 200 Kw @ 3,600 rpm
Torque: 650 Nm @ 1,600 rpm
Safety: 5 Star
CO2 Emissions: 297 g/km
Economy: (ADR comb) 9.5 L/100km
Tow Capacity Max: 3500 kg
Tow Ball Rating: 350 kg
Servicing: Capped Price
Warranty 3yr/100,000 km with full roadside assist
Overall OzRoamer Rating 90/100
Behind the Wheel 9
Ride & Handling 9
Fit for Purpose 9
Towing Ability 10
Off Road Ability 10
Value for Money 9