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Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series wagon 2020 review

Toyota's Landcruiser 76 Series wagon occupies a small, very specific niche all of its own: it's very capable off-road but it's not pretty, it's not that comfortable, it drives like a truck, and it offers few, if any, real concessions to occupant safety.

However, I reckon those characteristics are part of its undeniable appeal.

The 76 Series doesn't sell that well compared to other large 4WDs or SUVs and that fact has pushed it to the edge of extinction in recent years but, fortunately, it seems that Toyota will persist in soldiering on with this beloved traditional 4WD.

I spent two weeks with a 76 Series' flagship GXL variant to assess whether the fact it has stayed true to roots makes it worth your time and money, or if the 70 Series is simply a near-extinct 4WD that should be relegated to the annals of vehicular peculiarities. (Spoiler alert: of course, it shouldn't be done away with!)

Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The five-door, five-seat LC76 GXL wagon, pictured here, has a price as tested of $72,100 – that's the $71,500 MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price), plus $600 premium paint.

It has the line-up's 151kW/430Nm 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine, a five-speed manual transmission, and part-time 4WD with a low-range transfer case.

Standard features on the GXL, like a trip down memory lane, include cloth seats, carpet flooring, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, anti-lock braking system (ABS), vehicle stability control with hill-start assist control, and differential locks.

It also has 16-inch alloy wheels. (image: Marcus Craft) It also has 16-inch alloy wheels. (image: Marcus Craft)

It also has 16-inch alloy wheels, over-fender flares, chrome and painted front and rear bumpers, front mudguards, front fog lamps, and multi-function clock.

Note: the 2021 70 Series line-up includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen multimedia system, with voice control, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. Those variants will also get two front USB ports, a 12V power outlet, a more substantial smartphone holder and a cupholder in the passenger's door pocket.

The new wagons are $2410 more expensive than previous versions.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

In terms of exterior looks, a large part of this wagon's appeal is the fact that it's not very visually appealing at all – it's all well-built substance with very little style.

It's a boxy, blocky, ugly thing... and because of that it's truly a thing of beauty. This is an unpretentious, no-nonsense, purpose-built, mission-ready, unashamedly absolutely-no-frills 4WD – bloody great, in other (fewer) words!

In terms of exterior looks, a large part of this wagon’s appeal is the fact that it’s not very visually appealing at all. (image: Marcus Craft) In terms of exterior looks, a large part of this wagon’s appeal is the fact that it’s not very visually appealing at all. (image: Marcus Craft)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The 76 Series has a 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine – producing 151kW at 3400rpm and 430Nm at 1200-3200rpm – and a five-speed manual transmission.

It also has a part-time four-wheel system with a low-range transfer case, via an old-school stubby stick-shifter, not a dial or a button. Top stuff.

The GXL has front and rear differential locks and front locking hubs, standard on all 70s.

The 76 Series has a 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine, producing 151kW@3400rpm and 430Nm@1200-3200rpm. (image: Marcus Craft) The 76 Series has a 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine, producing 151kW@3400rpm and 430Nm@1200-3200rpm. (image: Marcus Craft)

How practical is the space inside?

Very practical, if you like your vehicle's interior to be very basic and to feel like it's been dragged from the 1970s.

It's expansive and roomy inside, even if actual storage spaces are few and far between and some of them are small or rather awkwardly shaped, or both.

  • It’s a spartan interior, but as plain as it all is, it fits in with the 70 series ethos: basic but functional. (image: Marcus Craft) It’s a spartan interior, but as plain as it all is, it fits in with the 70 series ethos: basic but functional. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • The Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series makes good sense as a long-distance, remote-area tourer. (image: Marcus Craft) The Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series makes good sense as a long-distance, remote-area tourer. (image: Marcus Craft)

There are two outboard cupholders, a narrow centre console bin, a cupholder and narrow smartphone spot to the left of the gear stick, and door pockets. There is also a shallow shelf for something below the front passenger's outboard air vent.

The seats are cloth, the floor is carpet (topped with rubber mats), the entertainment unit is as basic as basic can be, and there's a USB port and 12V socket upfront.

It's a spartan interior, but as plain as it all is, it fits in with the 70 series ethos: basic but functional.

  • Access to the rear is via the 60/40-split barn-type tailgate. (image: Marcus Craft) Access to the rear is via the 60/40-split barn-type tailgate. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • Access to the rear is via the 60/40-split barn-type tailgate. (image: Marcus Craft) Access to the rear is via the 60/40-split barn-type tailgate. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • Access to the rear is via the 60/40-split barn-type tailgate. (image: Marcus Craft) Access to the rear is via the 60/40-split barn-type tailgate. (image: Marcus Craft)

What's it like as a daily driver?

I reckon it's a lot of fun, but anyone climbing into a LC76 – to drive or be a passenger in – has to be ready to throw all of their expectations about comfort and safety out of the window and simply give in to the sheer joy of experiencing life from the seat of what is essentially a truck.

From the big throw of the tall gear stick, to the old-armchair-comfortable cloth seats, from the low-level rumble of the 4.5-litre V8 as you truck along the highway, to the high commanding, driving position (as if you're driving a sugar-cane harvester), spending any time in the LC76 on the move is a huge barrel of laughs.

Now to other specifics...

The 76 Series is a big unit: 4910mm long (with a 2730mm wheelbase), 1870mm wide and 1940mm high. It has a claimed a kerb weight of 2265kg.

There are two outboard cupholders, a narrow centre console bin, a cupholder and narrow smartphone spot to the left of the gear stick, and door pockets. (image: Marcus Craft) There are two outboard cupholders, a narrow centre console bin, a cupholder and narrow smartphone spot to the left of the gear stick, and door pockets. (image: Marcus Craft)

So, it's not an insubstantial wagon and is a bit unwieldy to steer along city streets or even in busier suburban streets, especially if you're used to getting around in zippy and highly manoeuvrable urban-friendly SUVs. It has a claimed turning circle of 12.6m.

When you drive it, it feels tall and narrow, but it still somehow feels well planted on the road – unless you're driving really 'creatively' – and you soon get used to its steer-ability – or lack thereof.

Visibility is impressive all-round and that V8 offers ample responsiveness when you need it to.

Steering is a bit truck-vague, there is body-roll when you pitch it into sharper corners, and the brake-pedal action is spongy, rather than direct.

The five-speed manual gearbox is nicely matched to the V8 engine and, with the taller fifth gear sorted out back in 2017, the LC76 overtakes with ease and is an easy drive on open roads. I wouldn't mind another gear in this thing though.

It is on the wrong side of noisy because it's a tall boxy wagon that monsters its way through the air as opposed to slipping smoothly through it like a 4WD ninja. And there's a fair bit of wind-rush around this 76's chunky snorkel (mounted on the A pillar in our tester), and its big wing mirrors as well.

It always feels like a window's open or a door's not shut properly in the 76 because this wagon is as draughty as an old house.

But, again, you get used to those quirks. Or you don't.

On a highway drive to my unofficial 4WD testing and proving ground, the LC76 proved to be as reliable an open-road cruiser as it's always been: revs plummeted, engine note dropped to a low-level rumble and this 'Cruiser just kept trucking.

The 76 Series rides on bush-friendly 16-inch alloys, shod with Dunlop Grandtrek AT1 (265/70R16 115R LT).

It’s expansive and roomy inside, even if actual storage spaces are few and far between. (image: Marcus Craft) It’s expansive and roomy inside, even if actual storage spaces are few and far between. (image: Marcus Craft)

What's it like for touring?

As impressive as ever.

This is a purpose-built off-road truck and nothing has changed in terms of its 4WD set-up for ages, so it's still as brutally effective off-road as it's ever been.

Its suspension set-up – coil springs at the front, leaf springs at the rear – yielded a comfortable ride over chopped-up back roads and corrugated gravel tracks as we drew closer to my off-the-books 4WD testing and proving ground.

Just by looking at the 76 Series, you can see it has good ground clearance (230mm, claimed), wading depth (700mm, claimed) and an approach angle (33 degrees). The departure angle (23 degrees) is a bit shallow for a hard-core 4WD and the ramp-over angle is not listed.

Low-range gearing (via the ol' stubby stick, as mentioned) is great and there's plenty of torque available at low revs. Second gear was revised a few years back, so it now offers even more flexibility when you're in low-range 4WD.

This is a purpose-built off-road truck and nothing has changed in terms of its 4WD set-up for ages, so it’s still as brutally effective off-road as it’s ever been. (image: Marcus Craft) This is a purpose-built off-road truck and nothing has changed in terms of its 4WD set-up for ages, so it’s still as brutally effective off-road as it’s ever been. (image: Marcus Craft)

The 76 also has an effective off-road traction control system, front and rear diff locks (dial-operated from the driver seat and standard on the GXL), as well as driver-assist tech, such as hill-start assist, to call upon.

The 76 has live axles front and rear and wheel travel – articulation, flex, whatever you want to call it – is very decent, so you're generally able to stretch a tyre to the dirt in order to get more dirt-grabbing traction, no matter how severe the terrain.

Some people have whinged about the difference in the 76's wheel tracks from front to rear – 1555mm wide at the front (because of the line-up's V8 engine and large radiator) and 1460mm wide at the rear – but that only ever comes into play on sandy tracks, where you effectively have to make two sets of tracks, rather than just the one, so, the Cruiser has to work harder to get through. We've driven a 76 on beach and river sand and – while that two-track scenario is never ideal – it's not exactly torture either. Plenty/most/all of 70 Series owners just get on with it. Still, the 70 Series will be even better when the narrow-track rear axle is widened to match the front. In the next-gen 70 Series, perhaps?

In terms of the wagon's suitability as a long-range tourer: the front seats are comfy, the rear seat is a bit more straight up and down, but there's plenty of head, arm and leg room on all seats.

There is also ample space for your work or camping equipment in the cargo area, although official capacity figures are unavailable.

Access to the rear is via the 60/40-split barn-type tailgate.

Unbraked towing capacity is listed as 750kg; braked towing capacity as 3500kg.

The 76 Series has a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 3060kg and a gross combined mass (GCM) of 6560kg.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is a claimed 10.7L/100km (combined).

We recorded 13.9L/100km after more than 300km of driving, including about 50km of 4WDing, and about 10km of that in low-range.

It has a 130-litre fuel tank.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 10.7L/100km (combined). (image: Marcus Craft) Fuel consumption is a claimed 10.7L/100km (combined). (image: Marcus Craft)

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The 76 Series does not have an ANCAP safety rating.

Safety gear includes driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes, vehicle stability control, active traction control, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, and hill-start assist.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The 76 Series is covered by Toyota's five-year/unlimited km warranty.

Servicing is scheduled for every six months/10,000km and, at capped prices, is calculated to be $360 a pop.

The Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series makes good sense as a long-distance, remote-area tourer, because it's capable, packable, has plenty of driving range on a 130-litre tank and it's actually quite comfortable on- and off-road.

It makes few, if any concessions, to modern convenience or comfort – but that's part of its appeal.

It is expensive though, and it lacks the safety tech that you want in a vehicle, especially if you're using your 76 Series to transport family and/or friends, which you will be on bush and beach adventures, no doubt.

However, as a work and farm truck or a go-anywhere adventure vehicle, few others can match it for pure off-road capability straight out of the showroom.

$75,000 - $108,984

Based on 28 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.6/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

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