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Toyota LandCruiser TroopCarrier 2019 off-road review: GXL

Marcus Craft
Editor - Adventure

27 Feb 2019 • 11 min read

The Land Cruiser Troop Carrier has been around for donkey's years - it's part of Toyota's legendary 70 Series range – but it was last refreshed in 2016 as part of the line-up's rejuvenation at the time. Its 4WDing heritage is undeniable and this tourer's status as a solid bush-tourer is further bolstered by Toyota's reputation for reliability.

It costs a lot and offers buyers very little in the way of comfort, driver-assist technology or even mod cons – but the Troopie does deliver 100 percent on an unwritten, unspoken promise of no-nonsense, no-compromise off-road ability.

But has it out-stayed its welcome? Should it move into the 21st century, along with every other vehicle on the planet? Read on.

  • Simply put, from the outside, this two-door Troopie looks like a block of wood on wheels. Simply put, from the outside, this two-door Troopie looks like a block of wood on wheels.
  • But that austere appearance is all part of the Troopie's overwhelming charm. But that austere appearance is all part of the Troopie's overwhelming charm.

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

The Troopie is available in entry-level two-seater WorkMate spec and top-spec five-seat GXL, which is what I drove on test.

Don't go looking for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – it's not here. Don't go looking for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – it's not here.

At $67,990 (plus on-road costs), a Troopie hits your wallet hard – like a surprise gut punch. And it's a massive price-tag for what you actually get... which is not a lot.

If you go looking for in-cabin gear such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto then you'll be sorely disappointed because none of it is here.

Over and above the WorkMate, it has front fog lamps, aluminium side steps, power windows and antenna, four-speaker audio system, central locking/keyless entry, cruise control plus – and these came in very handy on our test – front and rear diff locks as standard. At least airconditioning – which was a $2761 option up until about two years ago – is also now standard.

The GXL Troopie gets 16-inch steel wheels, rather than alloys.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Simply put, from the outside, this two-door Troopie looks like a block of wood on wheels; on the inside it looks like a jail cell. Take a look at the accompanying hot – either you're a fan (like me) or you're not (like every non-bloke in the world). But that austere appearance is all part of the Troopie's overwhelming charm – it's not pretending to be anything other than what it is: a basic, hard-working, tough 4WD.

The tall and boxy Troopie is 5220mm long (with a 2980mm wheelbase), 1790mm wide and 2115mm high. It weighs 2325kg.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

It has a 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine – producing 151kW@3400rpm and 430Nm@1200-3200rpm – and that is matched to a five-speed manual gearbox.

The Troopie's 4.5-litre V8 is a growly beast. The Troopie's 4.5-litre V8 is a growly beast.

Fifth gear is pretty tall on this thing – yielding solid power-on at higher speeds – but it could still do with another gear.

It has a part-time 4WD system with high and low range.

How practical is the space inside?

It's a very basic interior, sure, but it's a durable and supremely functional cabin with plenty of hard-wearing surfaces, cloth and plastic.

It's a plain but functional interior space. It's a plain but functional interior space.

The Troopie's dash has that typical 70 Series look and feel about it: a plain but well laid-out dash and console with all chunky controls, dials and knobs easy to locate and operate, even during bumpy, slow-going 4WDing, which is a real bonus for working blokes and 4WD tourers.

It also has a load of life-friendly storage spaces: deep-ish glove box, bottle holder and bits-and-pieces bin near the shifter, shallow receptacles between driver and front-seat passenger, narrow door-mould pockets, seat-back pockets, and a few other spots for odds and ends.

There's a 12V socket near the shifter.

Seats are cloth and, as mentioned, surfaces throughout are cloth and plastic.

My eyes may be failing me – that's a definite possibility – but I couldn't find any tie-down points in the cargo area.

The 60/40-split rear tailgate doors make the cargo area easy to access and load/unload.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Okay. The Troopie obviously hasn't been designed as a city runabout; it should by rights spend the bulk of its time in rural areas, in the bush or patrolling vast tracts of remote-area land.

It's more than a tad unwieldy in any cityscape, a bit awkward to manoeuvre on suburban streets, and, of course, much better when you get it out in the bush.

Driver position is high and commanding and visibility is tops. Driver position is high and commanding and visibility is tops.

Steering is generally vague, there is pronounced body-roll on sharper corners, and the brake pedal errs on the side of spongy. However, if you're willing to forgive it those characteristics, and more, which I am, then you're in for an enjoyable drive.

Driver position is high and commanding, visibility is great all-round and that V8 offers up plenty of responsiveness when you make demands of it.

It's tall, boxy shape and farm-suited driving dynamics work against it in anything busier and squeezier than a country town's main street on a Saturday night.

It's a bit more relaxed on an open road – when you can nudge into that fifth gear and get going – although its block-like shape tends to catch high winds and the wash from passing big rigs as a yacht's sail would.

The front bucket seats are comfy enough; the rear bench seat is a bit more straight up and down and really more of a short-term prospect.

There is plenty of head, arm and leg room, as well as ample space for your work or camping equipment in the cargo area.

On a highway-and-gravel-track run to our off-road course, it yielded a very comfortable 110km/h cruise; revs dropped, engine noise settled to a low growl and the Troopie rumbled along nicely.

What's it like for touring?

Pretty bloody good because that's what it's been designed and engineered for. It's tall and square (so is easy to fill with camping gear, work equipment, backpackers), it has a tough interior (so is able to cop a bashing inside day to day), and it has a robust drivetrain and 4WD system (so is able to drive over, across, and through most terrain).

The Troopie – with its live axles, coils at the front and leaf springs at the rear – will never feel like a sportscar. It's noisy and no matter how refined Toyota claims to have made the V8 and its five-speed manual gearbox, it will always feel gruff and agricultural – and cough up more wind-rush roar over the big wing mirrors – compared to pretty much everything else.

The Troopie becomes a bit of a rough rider on chopped-up back-country bitumen and corrugated gravel tracks, tending to skip around, especially with very little onboard, but that's not unforgivable and it settles substantially with a stack of gear inside.

But it was much more at home during prolonged sections of slow-going 4WDing.

It felt solid and settled on sand – it's no zippy dune buggy but it trucks through fine. The river sand was coarse and packed firm and we dropped tyre pressures to 20psi all round to suit. The Troopie's uneven wheel track – 1515mm at the front (to accommodate the V8), 1420mm at the rear – doesn't help its cause in sand as you tend to plow along through your own tracks, but it's not a deal-breaker.

With a wading depth of 700mm and 235mm ground clearance, enough to clear most submerged obstacles, this Toyota was never fazed during any water crossings. It has a snorkel as standard.

  • The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff. The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff.
  • The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff. The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff.
  • The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff. The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff.
  • The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff. The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff.
  • The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff. The Troopie is right at home in the rough stuff.

The Troopie's low-range gearing is so very low that it's able to crawl up the steepest of driveable inclines with no difficulty – even those criss-crossed by deep ruts. Generally, 4WD Low first gear was enough to get the Troopie up anything, but we took on a few very difficult hills so we engaged front and rear diff locks to give us extra traction. It has auto locking hubs.

Engine braking held the Troopie firm on the steep rocky downslopes ward.

Its 16-inch skinny tyres – Bridgestone Dueler A/Ts (225/95R 16) – aren't ideal for bush-touring so we get rid of those for some you'd be more likely to find all over the place.

Even though it is a natural born off-roader, its bulk sometimes works against: the long wheelbase can prove to be a burden through deeply rutted hills or inclines/declines lumpy with sharply angled rocks or pitted by steep-sided potholes.

It's tall and blocky so may pose a tip-over risk if driven through deep ruts or sideways across the face of a steep slope – which you should never do anyway.

Strong winds, abrupt shifts in onboard load, abrupt or severe changes in gradient can upset the tall Troopie.

It remains a great touring prospect though – it's capable of swallowing a ton of people, dogs, camping gear and more – well, not literally a ton but a lot. Also, it has a 90-litre main and a 90-litre sub tank.

Towing capacity is 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked). It has a 975kg payload, a GVM of 3330kg and a GCM of 6800kg.

How much fuel does it consume?

Claimed fuel consumption is 10.7L/100km (combined). We recorded 10.5L/100km and that included plenty of 4WDing, then we recorded 11.7L/100km for another leg of open-road driving.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The TroopCarrier has no ANCAP rating because it has not been tested yet. It does have Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) but it is still missing a lot of high-tech safety aids that are now standard in most other 4WDs. A major sin: it has a lap seatbelt for the middle back-seat passenger.

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

Warranty is three years/100,000km. Services are scheduled for six months/10,000km.

The Troopie's popularity remains heavily reliant on its reputation for functionality and reliability – but it has that rep for a reason: this is simply a go-anywhere country work truck or bush-tourer, nothing more, nothing less.

It has real long-distance, remote-area versatility in that it's built like a truck, it's able to tackle 4WDing and it has that expanse of onboard space, as well as 190-litre fuel capacity.

The Troopie is great off-road but driving it in a city or around the suburbs – with its vague steering, spongy pedals and pronounced body roll – can be a bit of a chore – but if you're willing to forgive it for those flaws – and its hefty price-tag – then you're laughing.

Thanks to the owners of River Island Nature Retreat for access to their land for this yarn. Please note: access to this private property for 4WDing is generally restricted to people who are participating in approved 4WD training courses.

$70,740

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.3/5

Adventure score

3.8/5

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'