Words Angus Boswell, Images Andrew Middleton & Angus Boswell
Land Cruiser owners are very loyal. They won’t buy anything else. When the old one has clocked up plenty of miles, say beyond 300 000km over many years, they simply go out and buy the next one offered by Toyota. And they still get a good trade-in – but that’s another story.
The previous 200 SUV launched here in 2007 was only offered in VX grade, so the clever thing Toyota SA was able to engineer this time around was access to the fleet-grade, no-nonsense GX version; similar to the derivative offered for the 100 Series. In sum, the perfect choice for mines, construction companies, and anyone else who wants fewer fripperies in the interest of reliability.
The 200 is a large, 5-metre long, nearly 2-metre wide SUV with some rather puffed-out sheet metal bolted to a ladder frame chassis of immense torsional rigidity. Independent wishbone front suspension riding on coil springs has taken over from the previous solid axle, although the solid rear axle and coils remain. All the primary components are big, strong and heavily protected against underbody bumps and bashing.
In the current 200 line-up (which includes the high-end VX derivative), only one drivetrain remains: a 4.5-litre single turbo V8 diesel, putting out 173kW and 615Nm, mated to a six-speed conventional automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive with low range and a centre diff lock.
It’s got plenty of low-down grunt, this diesel. It is relatively frugal if driven with caution; and, in varied conditions, consumption hovered between 11.7 and 12.15 litres/100km. Given the total standard tank capacity of 138 litres, this should ensure a single fill range of 1100km. What’s more, that V8 will thunder into action pretty snappily when so tasked, and it will run on 500ppm diesel when necessary.
While other premium SUVs are chasing transmission ratios, the Toyota count of six errs on the side of strength and fewer complications. If one wants to nitpick, then it’s not the smoothest changer, the auto changes on steep downhills can be harsh, and there is some hunting while freeway cruising – but the diesel’s torque makes up for all this, and most getting-about is effortless.
Three driving modes are available:
Eco makes for lazy, slurring starts and early changes, Second start does just that – pulls-off in second to save fuel − and Sport is the preferred choice for quicker throttle and gearbox responses, particularly in town driving.
You wouldn’t call the Cruiser 200 pretty. Brutal and Bison-like, yes. Noticeable changes in the latest 200 are the deep centre channel on the bonnet, where, before, it was flat. A rounded trapezoidal grille, bisected roughly in the middle, replaces the old squared-off one − reminding one a little of the new Ford Everest.
Headlights are flared back and the lower portion outlined with an LED strip; and there are LED fog lamps in the air dam. (An interesting design study, these new lights.) The body panels are
robust and huge, and the side creases are more pronounced, although they appear to have little function beyond interrupting the vast acreage between the lower sills and the windows.