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300 Series Land Cruiser review: How different is it to the legendary 200 Series?

Despite being all-new, the LandCruiser 300 Series retains most of its predecessor's core dimensions.
EXPERT RATING
8
What's it like? New from the ground up, the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series has much to live up to, from mountain-climbing capabilities to world-renowned durability. That Toyota ensured both evolve is no surprise. But this time, the LandCruiser is aiming for the stars, with improvements to safety, packaging, comfort, efficiency and on-road driving behaviour. Is the 300 a new legend in the making?

We’ve waited 14 years for this moment – an all-new Toyota LandCruiser.

A workhorse, an adventure plaything and paragon of dependability, a reputation earned over eight decades, the Japanese 4WD wagon is woven into the Australian cultural fabric.

Now the homegrown heroes are all history, a generational change is national news indeed. 

Back in May, we were granted brief access to a multi-million dollar, hand-built, pre-production late-stage prototype, as one of the first publications in the world to get up close and personal with the all-new 300 Series LandCruiser.

It was heavily disguised and jealously guarded at a remote location in Victoria, weeks before the final design was revealed to an expectant world.

But don’t worry, because Toyota promises us the LandCruiser 300 Series you will be able to buy come October will drive pretty much identically to this final-stage prototype.

Plus, we’ve spent enough time in the new LC300 (as Toyota puts it) to bring you our first, telling – and very surprising – impressions. And in the words of that other suburban Aussie legend… we like what we see!

And, one last thing before I kick off. Keeping in mind this publication’s unwavering commitment to keeping you informed about all things 2022 LandCruiser 300 Series, I was personally bound by a strict non-disclosure agreement until now, and so couldn’t tell anybody else at CarsGuide about it. Not even my closest colleagues.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

First and foremost, new Land Cruiser sales will commence in October, which is expected to coincide with its release date and when the first owners will take delivery.

Compared to the old 200 Series, prices have risen by between $7000 and $10,000, depending on grade. And, guess what? Now, there’s more to choose from, as well.

The extra cost is down to the fact that the 300 Series ushers in an all-new body and platform (what Toyota calls “a rigid, yet lightweight, TNGA body-on-frame construction”), improved power and efficiency, more equipment, and significant upgrades in safety and equipment levels. Maximum towing capacity is 3500kg.

  • 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)
  • 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)
  • 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)
  • 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series GR Sport. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series GR Sport. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)
  • 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series GR Sport. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series GR Sport. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)
  • 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series Sahara ZX. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series Sahara ZX. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)
  • 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series Sahara ZX. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 series Sahara ZX. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)

Plus, the two most expensive versions represent a march upmarket for the half-century old plus series, with one targeting more-serious off-roader consumers (GR Sport) and the other high-end luxury buyers. Note this pair, along with the base GX, are five seaters while the rest are seven-seat models.

The base GX from $89,990, before on-road costs, includes autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control and a host of other driver-assist technology that we’ll cover off in the Safety chapter.

It also gains LED headlights, keyless entry and start, two-zone climate control air-con, a reversing camera, a one-third bigger (9.0-inch) touchscreen display, as well as smartphone integration, an electric park brake, and one-touch power windows all round.

The 300 Series gains LED headlights. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) The 300 Series gains LED headlights. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)

You’ll also find a trailer wiring harness, and 'Toyota Connected Services' with automatic collision notification, SOS button and stolen-vehicle tracking.

The GXL from $101,790 steps up with seven seats, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitor, wireless phone charger and 18-inch alloy wheels, while the VX seven-seater from $113,990 adds rear-AEB, 360-degree monitor, active lane assist, upgraded traction and stability control operation, a bigger (12.3-inch) touchscreen, upgraded audio, four-zone climate control, power-adjustable steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, and a multi-terrain off-road system that automatically selects the appropriate 4WD-related tech to get you through more easily.

Going Sahara – the flagship of the seven-seater LandCruisers from $131,190 – means more premium audio with 14-speaker sound, a head-up display, heated steering wheel, heated middle-row seating and power-folding third-row seats.

Among other items, the newly-minted GR Sport five-seater, from $137,790, boasts ‘TOYOTA’ lettering in a gloss-black mesh grille, GR Sport branding everywhere the eye can see, blacked-out trim, unpainted bumpers and racier seat material.

Higher grade variants score a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) Higher grade variants score a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)

More importantly, it scores front and rear differential locks and an evolution of the old 200 Series’ independently locking/unlocking front and rear stabiliser bars dubbed e-KDSS (electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System). Along with five driving modes, adaptive variable suspension and adaptive high beams, all aim to improve on-road handling, control and confidence.

Finally, the Sahara ZX five-seater, from $138,790, brandishes a chrome grille, redesigned headlights, bumpers and tail-lights and a reshaped tailgate for a more luxurious look. There are also glossy 20-inch alloy wheels, side steps, jazzier trim, middle-row outboard heated/cooled seats and a torque-sensing rear limited-slip differential.

It also appears to be the only entry-point into a 300 Series with a powered tailgate.

The new LandCruiser’s main opponents include its age-old arch enemy, also from Japan, the Nissan Patrol, and though the Y62 is nearly a dozen years old now, a recent (2019) second makeover, V8 power (albeit petrol) and sub-$100K pricing (from $81,160 to $94,115) keep it in the hunt.

The newly-minted GR Sport five-seater gets GR Sport branding everywhere the eye can see. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) The newly-minted GR Sport five-seater gets GR Sport branding everywhere the eye can see. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)

Given the Toyota’s shift upmarket, the Land Rover Defender’s reinvention as a monocoque-bodied, off-road focused yet newly on-road savvy design icon cannot be underestimated either, especially as it starts off costing even less than the Patrol (from $74,516), offers two body styles (90 and 110 lengths), seven-seater options, six-cylinder turbo-diesels as well as four-cylinder turbo and supercharged V8 petrol choices (even though the latter starts north of $200K). 

Land Rover’s related, evergreen Discovery 5 also weighs in strongly, starting from $101,875 and topping out at $120,575. 

People moan about a 'Toyota Tax', but considering the 300 Series promises to maintain its predecessors’ sterling reputation for reliability, durability and dependability, has newfound on-road dynamic prowess, and does offer a wide range for consumers to choose from, it may end up being the best value 4x4 by far.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Visually, the 300 Series is a safe and conservative evolution of the vehicle it supplants.

Sure, the nose is more contemporary. The rear is cleaner. And the proportions are broadly similar. But the only really interesting touches pertain to the GR Sport, with its T-O-Y-O-T-A badge up front, blacked out trim and unpainted bumpers, adding a nice, retro, 1980s 60-Series-style attitude that’s keeping with the 4WD’s adventurous spirit.

Visually, the 300 Series is a safe and conservative evolution of the vehicle it supplants. Visually, the 300 Series is a safe and conservative evolution of the vehicle it supplants.

Dimensionally, and as the practically interchangeable numbers prove, the new LandCruiser wagon is identical to the 200 Series. Key length, width, height and wheelbase numbers are 4980mm to 5015mm, 1980mm to 2000mm, 1950mm and 2850mm respectively. The first two item variations are down to differences in grades.

The 300's official running clearance is 245mm. Toyota states ground clearance is 235mm.

Why so similar to before? Toyota’s research has shown that people are happy with the size of the old car. If it ain’t broke…

Still, there are massive shifts in certain areas, which have also helped shape the Toyota’s design. For instance, for the first time in any LandCruiser, the tailgate is now a one-piece lift-up door like a regular SUV’s, not a split design like your granddad’s old Holden EH wagon or barn doors like, well, a barn.

Toyota states ground clearance is 235mm. Toyota states ground clearance is 235mm.

And in the Sahara ZX, the shape of the tailgate skin has been altered again to make it look more upmarket – hence the length difference in this grade.

Further engineering decisions have impacted the way the latest LandCruiser looks.

The 300 Series is claimed to be “new-from-the-ground-up new”, sharing no components with its 14-year-old predecessor. It rides on the ‘Toyota New Generation Architecture – Frame’ (TNGA-F), a modular body-on-frame architecture that will underpin a number of different sized SUVs and pick-up trucks in the future – including, it’s reported, Prado and HiLux (link to Byron's related news story).

Shedding weight was another target, helped by all “bolt-on” body panels including doors, mudguards, bonnet and tailgate now being made of aluminium, while only the core frame remains high-strength steel – a first for LandCruiser.

Aided by using a lighter and smaller engine, an average of 200kg has been saved. This, in turn, improves fuel economy and lowers the centre of gravity, assisting handling and high-speed controllability.

Keep in mind this is a prototype we’re driving so, never mind the camouflage, sticky tape and gaffer tape. Keep in mind this is a prototype we’re driving so, never mind the camouflage, sticky tape and gaffer tape.

Suspension is via a redesigned version of the old double wishbone front and five-link (with Panhard rod) independent rear set-up. Axles front and rear are rigid. There is no air suspension option at this time. Payload remains at 3500kg braked/750kg unbraked.

Tyres are smaller at 265/18 spec, to also save weight and improve rolling resistance, while wheels move from a five-stud to a six-stud pattern like all models prior to the 100 Series.

With development commencing in 2014, Toyota Australia was involved from the start. Key goals were to maintain or improve quality, durability, reliability, diesel performance, long-distance comfort and towing capability.

There is also a big emphasis on accessories – with bull bars, 'roo bars, tow bars and extra lighting designed, developed or tuned here as required.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

At the time of driving the 300 Series back in May, the prototype’s interior was a working testbed of varying materials, errant wires and additional telematic technologies as per a regular development vehicle’s, so wasn’t as representative of the finished product as what you are seeing right now in the photos.

Additionally, with all the extra cladding on the outside as well as roof racks and a bull bar, it was difficult to ascertain refinement levels due to the extra noises they elicit.

The 300 feels much airier and roomier than it's predecessor. The 300 feels much airier and roomier than it's predecessor.

Still, things are chalk and cheese stepping from the old to new LandCruiser back-to-back, which was part of the testing experience on that day.

The first thing that strikes you in what approximates to the flagship Sahara ZX grade in this prototype is how much airier and roomier the 300 feels, from the moment you open up the hefty door and climb up inside. There’s a sense of width and space missing from the 200, aided by what seems like deeper windows.

The seats are also a revelation. Significantly larger and broader than before, with a wide flat base but with bolstered sides and bigger backrests, to nestle better in. Toyota reckons they hold you in more during 4x4 off-road manoeuvres.

Appearing like a larger version of the dashboard design first seen in the LandCruiser’s immensely popular RAV4 baby brother, the look is pleasingly symmetrical for the most part, as well as downright practical.

An expansive display, it includes (likely optional) 3D digital instrumentation combined with analogue dials, vehicle data and multimedia info, to impart a sense of modernity and progress, but without losing the connection of what came before. There's nothing here to scare off crusty old 'Cruiser diehards.

The same applies to the climate control and audio systems, with a big volume knob where you want it, air outlets where you need them, and plenty of welcome, physical switchgear instead of confusing and annoying ‘virtual buttons’ lost deep in sub menus. This is all easy and intuitive stuff.

The 3D digital instrumentation combined with analogue dials, vehicle data and multimedia info impart a sense of modernity and progress. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) The 3D digital instrumentation combined with analogue dials, vehicle data and multimedia info impart a sense of modernity and progress. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)

Being a high-grade series, the larger 12.3-inch centre screen’s fresh design features swipe control and all-new graphics never before seen in a Toyota-badged vehicle.

They also house the displays for the climate control as well as the multimedia visuals. Plus, the screen’s vast dimensions make the most of the big 360-degree surround-camera views. Suddenly, you might be able to justify what your $140K buys.

Moving on to the rear means clambering up into a large and spacious second row. The seat cushion seems larger and so supports longer and larger legs better, though the additional data-collecting equipment and tatty non-production trim made it difficult to really get a sense of what the finished product will seem like.

All we can say is that it’s also airy, roomy and accommodating – as you’d expect in a 5.0-metre SUV – with all the gadgets and gizmos you expect in a flagship LandCruiser.

However, the third-row area was out of bounds in this prototype. But one of the biggest advances is the move from side-mounted third-row seating to an under-floor system, though whether our test car had this fitted was difficult to tell.

Overall, the biggest take-away is how much more comfortable, composed and stable the interior felt. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) Overall, the biggest take-away is how much more comfortable, composed and stable the interior felt. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)

This one change guarantees that seven-seater versions will have hugely more cargo space available when the rearmost chairs aren’t in use, significantly boosting the 300 Series' practicality and family-friendly appeal. Welcome to the 20th Century, LandCruiser!

Overall, then, the biggest take-away is how much more comfortable, composed and stable the interior felt, albeit driven only along a Toyota-sanctioned test track, and only up to 120km/h. This now seems like a bona fide luxury SUV experience as a result, rather than a 4WD in drag.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

Dubbed the F33A-FTV, all Oz-bound 300 Series 'Cruisers for now will be powered by a 3346cc 3.3-litre double overhead cam, 24-valve, chain-drive V6 twin-turbo diesel engine, delivering 227kW of power at 4000rpm and 700Nm of torque from 1600-2600rpm.

Over the old 200kW/650Nm 4.5-litre V8 twin-turbo diesel, this represents rises of 27kW and 50Nm respectively. It also enjoys a much stronger power-to-weight ratio – nearly 91kW per tonne versus just 73kW. This means it can do more – and go further – with less.

The transmission is an Aisin-built 10-speed torque-converter automatic, permanently driving all four wheels, and with a low-range transfer case. Sadly, there is no more manual transmission on offer – not for the time being, in any case.

  • The all Oz-bound 300 Series 'Cruisers for now will be powered by a V6 twin-turbo diesel engine. The all Oz-bound 300 Series 'Cruisers for now will be powered by a V6 twin-turbo diesel engine.
  • The all Oz-bound 300 Series 'Cruisers for now will be powered by a V6 twin-turbo diesel engine. (Overseas pre-production model shown.) The all Oz-bound 300 Series 'Cruisers for now will be powered by a V6 twin-turbo diesel engine. (Overseas pre-production model shown.)

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

There was no way we could access any sort of meaningful real-world fuel consumption figures during our pre-production drive of the new LandCruiser back in May.

However, the official data is now in. Compared to the 200 Series, the 300 Series uses just over half-a-litre less fuel, according to its combined fuel number – it’s down to 8.9L/100km… which is hardly night and day.

Toyota says the more-efficient and smaller engine means it could fit a smaller fuel tank. This results in a theoretical range of 1236km between fills. 

That’s down from 1453km, due to the old model’s 28L-larger tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

It’s too early for the 300 Series to have an ANCAP safety rating. And we don’t even know how many airbags it will have, but we’re expecting a high standard of safety, given the significance of this new model.

Here’s what we know so far.

All grades include autonomous emergency braking pre-collision safety system with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (daytime-only) detection, as part of what is dubbed “the latest Toyota Safety Sense package.”

There’s also all-speed active cruise control, auto high beam and lane-keeping technology that steps up to lane-trace assist with steering-wheel vibration in VX grades and above.

Also standard on all models are LED headlights, reverse camera, 'Toyota Connected Services' with automatic collision notification, SOS button and stolen-vehicle tracking.

You’ll need to step up to the GXL and up for rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitor, and only the VX and up adds rear-AEB, 360-degree monitor, active lane assist, and upgraded traction and stability control operation.

All other information, including AEB operation parameters and child-seat fixtures will be released closer to the 300 Series’ launch date in the final quarter of 2021.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Toyota offers an industry-average warranty of five-years/unlimited kilometres.

All other information regarding service intervals and capped-price servicing will also be revealed at a later date.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

So, the question on every one’s lips is: does the new 3.3L twin-turbo diesel V6 perform as well or better than the 4.5L TT diesel V8 it replaces?

Well, in the limited time we’ve had around the high-security Anglesea Proving Ground, the Toyota certainly feels at least as fast, and certainly quiet and smooth and refined in the way you’d want an all-new V6 engine to be.

Secondly, the 10-speed auto transmission seems to shuffle through each of the ratios quick smart, with no delay or lag or jerkiness – so that’s a good thing. How it would behave with a bigger load, we cannot say, but on the day, the shifter seemed swift, smooth and sure.

And thirdly, we did a towing test with 3000kg and a 10 per cent load on the towing ball, and we found that the towing capacity of that car was smoother and more effortless than driving the similarly-hitched 4.5L V8 200 Series. So, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a win for the 300 Series.

Probably the only thing I am a little disappointed in is that it doesn’t quite have the V8 snarl – that diesely grunty snarl that the 200 Series has.

We did a towing test with 3000kg and a 10 per cent load on the towing ball. We did a towing test with 3000kg and a 10 per cent load on the towing ball.

Having said that, this is not a bad sounding engine, by any means. And while the official fuel consumption figures are better but not stellar, maybe they promise to be a lot better than the current car out in the real world.

If that’s the case, that’s a small price to pay for significantly increased efficiency. Only pump-to-pump tests will reveal the truth here.

Now, even though the LandCruiser retains a double-wishbone front end and a five-link rear suspension system, it’s been completely overhauled and redesigned for this configuration.

And combined with the hydraulic electric steering system in the high-grade model, the handling and ride qualities are comparable to most luxury SUVs. Not the highest bar in the world, I know, but this is a basically a body-on-frame truck wagon, remember.

The LC300 feels so much tauter and tighter than any previous LandCruiser. The LC300 feels so much tauter and tighter than any previous LandCruiser.

Inevitably, the steering errs on the light side, and isn't the last word in feedback. But it's also measured and progressive, and goes exactly where you point it – even with a huge trailer out back. The helm is your friend.

On the subject of suspension comfort, the pitching and body roll that was sometimes detected in the current 200 Series that accompanied each driving test were happily absent in the latter's successor.

That's great news for kids of all ages who go green at the notion of riding in the rear of a separate chassis 4x4.

I’m not going to say that this is as good as, say, a BMW X5 because it just can’t be, being a ladder-frame chassis vehicle. But, gee, it feels so much tauter and tighter and more in control than any LandCruiser series I’ve driven.

And I’ve driven a lot of them in my 25-year history testing cars, and before that even, and I’ve got to say that this is one car I could live with around town. And you couldn’t say that about a LandCruiser before.

This is one that raises the bar for all 4x4 wagons with this level of off-road capability anywhere in the world. This is one that raises the bar for all 4x4 wagons with this level of off-road capability anywhere in the world.

Again, a win for LandCruiser fans. And Toyota!

Also, folks, please keep in mind this is a prototype we’re driving. It cost millions of dollars, it’s extremely precious to Toyota. In fact, it’s going back to Japan, and being torn down so they can glean even more information out of it.

So, never mind the camouflage and the sticky tape and the gaffer tape and the wires and all that hanging out, because even with all those gubbins poking in and out of this car, it’s very clearly a car that is more than generationally better than its predecessor.

This is one that raises the bar for all 4x4 wagons with this level of off-road capability anywhere in the world.

That said, consider our appetites well and truly whetted; we cannot wait to drive the new 300 Series out in the real world. 

Verdict

So, has the new LandCruiser 300 Series been worth the wait?

I reckon that’s a big fat yes. Toyota set out to build the best 4x4 it can with the new 300 Series, and it succeeds admirably with its new driver-control systems, off-road systems and greater strength in its body and chassis.

But more importantly, I think they’ve made a proper 4WD that now competes with luxury SUVs on road, thanks to better steering, better handling and a better ride. Those things, along with a more-refined powertrain and greater efficiency, make the new 300 Series one of the best luxury SUVs you can buy.

We haven’t yet driven it on local roads, but our first impressions point to something truly special.

Watch this space…

 

EXPERT RATING
8
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership8
Driving8
Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist

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