It's not often that I test drive a new motor car and then start submitting a round of Lotto and Power Ball entries but after spending driving the powerful but entirely docile LC200 wagon that's exactly what I did. I liked the car that much.
The new Land Cruiser is massive, and it's expensive at an on road coast of more than $80k. But this is one four wheel drive that does everything asked of it – on or off road – with the greatest of ease, while driver and passengers enjoy superb comfort.
In perspective the Land Cruiser 200 series represents the first complete make over of Toyota's top of the range wagon since 1998. Making a good thing even better is perhaps the best way to describe the LC 200, which has full off road capability while driving as a large luxury sedan.
Reviewed was the 6 speed auto GXL 4.5L twin turbo V8 diesel station wagon. The 4.5L diesel never seems to work hard yet it achieves remarkable performance levels. There's some 195kW of power and 650Nm of torque which equates to around 30% extra power and a massive 50% additional torque over the previous 6 cylinder turbo diesel engine powering the 100 series Land Cruiser wagon.
This big engine is perfect for towing a larger boat having ample power for virtually any situation. The LC 200 has a braked trailer rating of some 3500kg, and that combination of long wheel base and substantial mass certainly equate to a very stable towing platform. You won't need to buy a tow bar either as it comes integrated into the rear bumper assembly.
The LandCruiser's roof also has a load rating of 100kg, which adds up to quite a bit of camping gear for times when the car and trailer are really loaded.
Given the capacity of the Quad Cam 32 valve common rail high pressure fuel injected diesel engine this question begs to be asked: Is it hard on the hip pocket, fuel wise? You could be forgiven for thinking fuel consumption would be through the roof, with the Land Cruiser’s big turbo charged inter cooled engine having the highest torque of any Toyota vehicle ever sold in Australia.
In fact Toyota claim a fuel consumption of 10.3L per 100km. Test runs with a mix of city and highway driving gave me very close to those figures. And with 138L of diesel in the tank there will be a pretty good touring range between top ups.
With just the very slightest of turbo lag, which is hardly noticeable during every day driving, the 4.5L V8 pulls very willingly and extremely smoothly from around 2000rpm. When those revs are reached the response is simply amazing and with the sixth gear there is a real need to watch the speedo very closely or engage the cruise control for safety.
Slightly rattly at idle, the big diesel engine cannot be heard under way because the Cruiser's cabin is extremely sound insulated.
The six speed auto unit is silky smooth and lightning fast, delivering power to all four 17” wheels at the same time. Low range is on tap at the turn of a dial with a limited slip centre differential on hand for the really tough going.
Gear changes are hard to detect. But there is a manual sequential over ride capability so the driver can simply flick the gear selector to the side and change manually if conditions dictate it's the way to go.
Passengers are pampered in the new LC200. Up to seven passengers are catered for with the rear third row of adult sized seats simply folding up to the side when not in use. A re-design (thanks to a shortened bonnet courtesy of the V8 engine) has seen interior pillars moved forward some 130mm and a corresponding increase in interior space.
Interior features include very comfortable seats with lots of elbow and leg room all round, climate control pollen filter air conditioning for both front and rear passengers, dual front SRS air bags, front side air bags and dual three row side curtain shield air bags. There's plenty of deep carpet under foot and electronic controls for windows, mirrors and drink holders and storage space. A six speaker audio system is easy to become accustomed to, and there's Bluetooth capability, naturally.
The ride is simply superb thanks to an entirely new double wishbone/coil spring suspension up front (increasing wheel articulation) plus specially designed long stroke rear suspension. Increased wheel travel, better handling off road, increased road feel and all round comfort are the result of these important suspension changes.
Interestingly, the acclaimed Australian invented Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which provides maximum wheel articulation plus high degrees of rigidity to control excessive roll via a hydraulic dampening system is not available as standard equipment on the GXL diesel ( although standard on the 4.7L petrol model ) but is an extra.
The Land Cruiser's rear cargo space is massive. The split tail gate set up of the previous model has been retained (which won't necessarily please all users as it's a fair stretch into the back plus the floor is somewhat high) but in my view it would be unlikely to deter a potential buyer.
The Land Cruiser 200 GXL V8 diesel is indeed a premium four wheel drive. No effort seems to have been spared by Toyota to put this brilliant wagon right at the forefront of design and functionality, but like all really good things it comes at a price. It's a fairly substantial one in this instance but I will wager next year's trout season that anyone buying a LC 200 will never, regret doing so. This car is really that good.Reads: 9500