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Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class


Toyota Land Cruiser

Summary

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

Apparently there is an ugly Kardashian, but you don’t care, or if you do, you shouldn’t, so let’s talk about the Hemsworth brothers instead. 

In any other family, Luke Hemsworth would probably be called handsome, if a little short. Unfortunately for him, standing next to Liam and the God who walks amongst us that is Chris (I had to interview him once, he really is dreamy), Luke looks like he’s barely keeping his chin above the water line at the shallow end of the gene pool.

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range has quite a variation of lookers in its family tree as well, but I would argue that the new, entry-level GLA is pretty much the Chris of the range, or at least the Liam. The unfortunate, slightly large-foreheaded GLB would obviously be the Luke.

The only problem with all this, of course, is that the car that originally gave birth to the GLA - the A-Class - is more attractive than all of them, and Craig  Hemsworth, sire of the family, doesn’t quite pull that off.

The point is that the new GLA is going to be even more popular than the original one, which sold a staggering one million units worldwide, because it is not only bigger and taller, but better looking, inside and out.

And let’s face it, no one is buying an urban SUV like this for the way it can climb a snow-covered alpine pass. Even all-wheel drive is optional.

But the GLA has this niche nailed, and the new one - thanks to its style, space and the effortless way it rides - is going to be an even bigger success.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Toyota Land Cruiser

New models don’t get much bigger than this. Literally, but also figuratively speaking. In fact, I haven’t actually seen anything generate anywhere near the level of buzz around the new Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series in the past decade. 

It’s also not often we see a new design with the pressure of living up to a seven-decade heritage, but this one also carries the reputation of the world’s most successful car brand on its shoulders. 

The big LandCruiser wagon is Toyota’s equivalent of the 911, S-Class, Golf, Mustang, Corvette, GT-R, or MX-5. A flagship model that needs to demonstrate the brand’s core values. 

There’s some poetry in the biggest brand having the largest icon, but its physical scale is more of a by-product of its broad spectrum of capabilities. 

And unlike these other brand figureheads, the new LandCruiser LC300 won’t sell in the big markets like China, the USA or Europe. Instead, it’s the Middle East, Southeast Asia (including Australia), Japan, Africa and Central and South America where it will strut its stuff. 

Yes, little old Australia, which has a demonstrated love affair with the LandCruiser badge that kicked off as Toyota’s first export model (ever, anywhere) in 1959, and therefore blazed the trail toward the global domination Toyota enjoys today.

This love affair has never been clearer than the massive anticipation for the new 300 Series LandCruiser, with the stories we’ve published on CarsGuide to-date having broken traffic records left, right and centre. 

Why do we love the idea of a big LandCruiser so much? Because of its demonstrated ruggedness for remote areas and off-road, ability to tow huge loads and carry lots of people in great comfort over very long distances.

For many who live in remote areas, these are essential strengths for daily life. For those of us in more populated parts of Australia, it represents the ideal gateway for escaping to enjoy this wide, brown land.

And for every Australian looking to buy one new, there’s probably hundreds dreaming about buying a used example in the future, with the expectation of a dependable buy decades after they’re built.

The big plot twist amid all this is that despite finally going on sale, Toyota still can’t promise when you’ll be able to park one in your garage, due to pandemic-related parts shortages halting production. Keep an eye on this page for any developments on that front.

But for now, thanks to the LandCruiser 300 Series’ Australian media launch, I can finally tell you what the finished product is like to drive. 

I can also finally dissect the whole Australian line-up, and go through all the details we were still missing when we published Byron Mathioudakis’ prototype LandCruiser 300 review back in August.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.3L
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

You can tell that this car is going to be a success just by looking at it. For a lot of people, to see one will be to want one, and when they sit in that hugely high driving position and gaze upon the future-fabulous interior they’ll be even more sold.

It’s fair to say the GLA 250 does everything well - aside from providing boot space - and with great comfort, and in terms of looks, inside and out, it reaches the level of outstanding.

Personally, I’d take the lower and sleeker A Class every time.

 


Toyota Land Cruiser8.5/10

There’s not much more to say really. The new Land Cruiser 300 Series seems like a better all-round package than ever, that’s so well suited to Australia’s broad array of driving conditions.  

It's impossible to suggest a sweet spot among the six trim levels on offer, given they all tend to be aimed at a specific use case and buyer. May I reiterate; check all the details before choosing the right model for you.

It’s not cheap, but try and find something that’ll do everything so well at any price.

Design

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class9/10

I have to say that it’s quite an effort for a car company to get me interested in the look of an SUV, but from its tough, bold and yet stylish grille to its taut back end and BMW-aping rear light cluster, the new GLA really is a looker.

I had the good fortune to bring our GLA 250 test vehicle home and park it right next to the previous model, in the same colour, thus properly ruining the day of one of my neighbours.

The growth in size is clear - the new car is 12cm taller, 30mm wider and has a 30mm-longer wheelbase, yet overall it is 14mm shorter, which makes it look neater as well as stronger - but it’s the little tucks and tweaks of design that have really improved the look. The rear-light cluster is worth mentioning again, as it's just so much nicer.

While the original GLA was simply a case of making an A Class on stilettos, its success has encouraged Benz to really pour some effort into its successor, and the result is clear. This thing is a real looker.

 


Toyota Land Cruiser9/10

The new 300 Series’ overall proportions look very similar to the 14-year old 200 Series it replaces, but Toyota insists it’s a clean-sheet design from top to bottom.

Overall imensions (mm)LengthWidthHeightWheelbase
Sahara ZX5015198019502850
GR Sport4995199019502850
Sahara4980198019502850
VX4980198019502850
GXL4980198019502850
GX4980200019502850

I actually have a feeling the bonnet release lever is a carryover, but I’m yet to verify this, and everything else seems to take a step forward to push it’s all-rounder status to greater heights than ever.

Australia has once again played a key role in its development, with the first prototype touching down in 2015. Toyota says that in addition to Australia being a key market for the 300 Series, we offer engineers access to 80 per cent of the world’s driving conditions.

The new body is both stronger and lighter than before thanks to using aluminium for the roof and opening panels, plus high-tensile steel, and rides on a new separate chassis with redesigned mechanical elements that have been relocated to give a lower centre of gravity while offering more ground clearance. The wheel tracks have also been widened to improve stability.

It all aligns with the TNGA platform philosophy that’s put a shine on all new Toyotas since the launch of the fourth-generation Prius, and the LC300’s specific separate-chassis iteration is branded TNGA-F. This also underpins the new Tundra truck in the US, and will also evolve into the next Prado and likely others.

Regardless of the new design, it is still a big car, and combined with its requirements for ruggedness, it was always going to be a heavy outcome, with all versions tipping the scales near the 2.5 tonne mark. Which makes it one of the heaviest cars on the market.

 Kerb weight
Sahara ZX2610kg
GR Sport2630kg
VX/Sahara2630kg
GXL2580kg
GX2495kg

On the inside, the new LandCruiser is bang up to date. Even the base GX looks nice and fresh with materials that feel like the top quality you’d expect, and a lot of attention has been paid to ergonomics. It’s clear that function has been put before form, unlike a lot of other off-roaders that do it the other way around to the detriment of occupants.

There’s also plenty of button controls, which I’d prefer rather than hidden controls behind submenus in the touchscreen.

On that note, it’s surprising to see analog gauges across the range, where so many new models are going for full digital instrumentation lately.

Another thing that’s surprisingly missing for a new model in 2021 is wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, even though all bar the base GX gets a wireless phone charger. You do get corded Android Auto and Apple CarPlay across the range, but no wireless, even when you spend up to just under 140 thousand dollars.

Practicality

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The main goal of the GLA’s new, more SUV-like shape, in practicality terms, seems to have been to lift the driver even further off the ground, because the command-seating position is obviously a big selling point for someone who finds the A Class too ground-hugging.

So, while some of that growth in height has been used to increase head room to the point where I could easily wear Abraham Lincoln’s hat while driving, much of it has gone to making the driving position a full 10cm higher than in the previous GLA (it’s also 14cm higher than in an A Class).

Personally, the height of the seat drove me slightly spare, and every time I got in I tried to lower it, only to find it doesn’t go any lower, but, tellingly, my wife - who is not far off being an elf - loved it.

What I did like was the back seat, which is truly voluminous. Through clever packaging, Benz has managed to liberate no less than 12cm of extra legroom back there, and I could properly stretch out. 

With its standard double-paned panoramic roof and huge windows (part of huge doors, which do come close to scraping on any gutter higher than a match box), it’s a very glassy interior indeed, and visibility is excellent. 

There are two cupholders between the front seats, and there’s storage for big bottles in each door. Oddment storage is plentiful, although they could have more if they did away with the now redundant mouse pad and the so-called “arm rest” behind that, which feels more like a gear-shift lever they forgot to remove when they put the shifting functions up on a column stalk.

There’s no need for the track pad any more because the giant and truly very lovely 10.25-inch touch screen does everything via touch, and sits next to another screen the same size that acts as your dash readout, making the whole thing look like a particularly long iPad.

While other car companies, including Audi, which has long been the winner in any interior-design conversation, are still just jamming big screens on top of dashboards, Benz has turned its entire dash into a digital display, and it looks amazing, and futuristic. Like a concept car you can actually buy.

The overall feeling of quality and tech - particularly at night when it all lights up beautifully in a colour of your choosing - in this alluring interior is one of the main reasons buyers will flock to the new GLA.

The seats are not as sporty as some, but they’re comfortable enough.

The one letdown, however, which comes as a shock with all that space in the rear, is the boot, which is just 435 litres, compared to the Audi Q3’s far more practical 530 litres. It really is a surprise when you open the back and see so little there, and that really does lower the practicality mark.

 


Toyota Land Cruiser9/10

Being a big SUV, practicality is a big deal, and just to reiterate, it’s only the GXL, VX and Sahara that have seven seats, with the base GX and the top-tier GR Sport and Sahara ZX only having five.

There’s good storage space all round, with at least six cupholders, and there’s bottle holders in each door. 

All bar the base GX get ample USB coverage, there’s a 12V point up front and in the second row, and all trim levels get a handy 220V/100W  inverter in the cargo area.

 USB-A (audio)USB-C (charge)12V220V/100W
Sahara ZX1 /*-->*/ 3 /*-->*/ 2 /*-->*/ 1
GR Sport1 /*-->*/ 3 /*-->*/ 2 /*-->*/ 1
Sahara1 /*-->*/ 5 /*-->*/ 2 /*-->*/ 1
VX1 /*-->*/ 5 /*-->*/ 2 /*-->*/ 1
GXL1 /*-->*/ 5 /*-->*/ 2 /*-->*/ 1
GX11 /*-->*/ 2 /*-->*/ 1

The second row is where things get clever. Despite the new model riding on the same wheelbase as the 200 Series, they’ve managed to move the second row back to allow an extra 92mm of legroom. There’s always been plenty of room for my 172cm height, but taller passengers will likely be big fans of the new 300 Series, and for those of us with kids there’s the standard two ISOFIX and three top tether child seat mounts. The second row seats also have reclining backrests, but the base doesn’t slide fore and aft. Note that the GX and GXL second row splits 60:40, where the VX, Sahara, GR Sport and Sahara ZX split 40:20:40.

Climbing into the third row is never going to be easy given how far off the ground you are, but it’s pretty good with the second row tumbled forward, and the smaller part is thankfully on the passenger side. 

Once you’re back there, there’s decent room for adults of average height, you can see out the windows quite easily, which is not always the case. There’s good ventilation for your face, head and feet. 

Each backrest reclines (electronically on Sahara), there’s a cupholder for each passenger, but there’s no child seat mounts in the third row, unlike a lot of other newer seven seaters.

Approaching the 300 Series from behind, there is a couple more big changes over the LandCruiser wagons of old. 

First is the one-piece tailgate, so no more split or barn door options. There’s lots of arguments for all three types of tailgates, but two big pluses for the new design is that the simpler construction makes it much easier to seal dust from getting in, and it makes a handy shelter when you’ve got it open.

The second big change back here is that the third row seats finally fold into the floor, instead of the awkward ‘up and to the side’ approach of the past.

One compromise that’s likely resulted from moving the second row closer to the rear is a significant reduction in overall boot space, with the third-row folded figure dropping by 272 litres VDA to 1004, but it is still a big, tall space, and the fact that the third row now folds into the floor has liberated an extra 250mm of boot width.

Boot space5 seat7 seat
Seats up (L VDA)1131175
Third row folded (L VDA)n/a1004
All folded (L VDA)20521967
*all figures measured to roofline

As per big LandCruiser tradition, you’ll still find a full-size spare wheel under the boot floor, which is accessed from beneath. This might sound like a dirty job, but it’s much easier than unloading your boot onto the ground to access it from inside.

Payload figures weren’t a 200 Series strong point, so it’s good to see that these have improved by a useful 40-90kg across the range. 

 Payload
Sahara ZX /*-->*/ 670 kg
VX/Sahara/GR Sport /*-->*/ 650kg
GXL700kg
GX785kg

Note the numbers still vary by up to 135kg depending on trim level, so pay close attention if you plan on carrying heavy loads.

Speaking of heavy loads, the maximum braked tow rating is still the benchmark 3.5 tonnes and all trim levels come with an integrated tow receiver. While the overall number may not have changed, Toyota boasts that the 300 Series does a better job of towing within that limit.

All versions of the LC300 are rated with a 6750kg gross-combined mass (GCM) and a 3280kg gross-vehicle mass (GVM). The maximum front axle load is 1630kg, where the rear can handle 1930kg. The roof load limit is 100kg.

Running ground clearance is slightly improved at 235mm, and the wading depth is rated at the Toyota-standard 700mm.

Price and features

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

I find it hard to believe I’m saying this about a Benz, but at a starting price of $66,500, the GLA 250 4MATIC does seem like quite a lot of car for the money. This might be influenced by the fact that I know a couple who recently dropped more than $70K on the smaller A Class (they actually went shopping for a GLA, but then fell in love with the look of the little hatch).

There, are of course, always issues with the Germans when it comes to what you do and don’t get for your tempting entry price, and in the case of our test vehicle it would stick in my craw quite badly to pay $385 extra for its Polar White paint. Yes, white paint costs extra.

While the Titan Grey Pearl and Black Lugano Leather is nice, it’s only in the car as part of the $2838 AMG Exclusive Package. Throw in the Sports Package at $1915, which gets us the sexy 19-inch AMG alloys, and the Driving Assistance Package for $1531 worth of extra active safety, drop on a dollop of LCT at $1329 and the asking price for our urban SUV hits a less-enticing-sounding $74,498.

Your standard inclusions for the $66,500 are a very lovely panoramic electric sunroof, heated and electronically adjustable front seats, with memory function, lowered comfort suspension and sports-direct steering, plus the Off-Road Engineering Package, while the standard, non AMG wheels are also 19-inch alloys, presumably just less sexy ones.

And you don't have to pay extra for Apple CarPlay, which is nice.


Toyota Land Cruiser8/10

We’ve known for a couple of months now that the new 300 Series has jumped in price, like a lot of new models lately, but the $7-10,000 price rises are spread across a broader line-up than before, and there’s a lot going on with its new design from top to bottom to help justify it. 

It’s interesting to note that the 300 Series line-up isn’t the usual pattern of more features the more you spend, with some trim levels specifically focused on certain customers and use cases, so check the details carefully.

Like before, you can pick the base GX ($89,990 MSRP) by its 17-inch steel wheels - which revert to six-stud, unlike the five studs used for the past two generations - and big black snorkel. This is the one you’ll see wearing Police signage beyond the black stump.

As we’ve called out before, it no longer gets the barn door tailgate, but still gets rubber on the floor and in the boot instead of carpet.

Equipment highlights include a leather steering wheel, comfy black cloth trim, active cruise control, but you only get most of the important safety gear. 

The base multimedia screen is on the small side at 9.0 inches, but it finally comes with CarPlay and Android Auto, which is still corded unlike the wireless that’s starting to pop up on most new models. The driver gets a basic 4.2 inch display in the instrument panel. 

The GXL ($101,790 MSRP) loses the snorkel but adds key details like 18-inch alloys, roof rails, and alloy side steps. It’s also the cheapest seven-seater, and brings carpet, a wireless phone charger, Multi-Terrain Select which specifically adapts the drivetrain to suit the terrain you’re driving on, and brings in key safety features including  front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts.

The VX ($113,990 MSRP) had become the most popular trim level with the 200 Series, and you can now pick it by its shinier wheels, silver grille and more stylised DRL headlights.

On the inside, it swaps the cloth for black or beige synthetic leather seat trim, and adds highlights like the bigger 12.3-inch multimedia screen and 10 speaker audio with a CD/DVD player (in 2021!!!), a big 7-inch display ahead of the driver, four-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a sunroof, and four-camera surround view.  Interestingly, this is the cheapest model with auto wipers and reverse auto braking to protect from colliding with static objects.

Look for the chrome mirrors to pick a Sahara ($131,190 MSRP) over a VX, and it feels a bit odd that you’ve got to spend more than $130,000 to get leather seat trim with the Sahara, and that’s also the case for a head-up display and a power tailgate. This leather can be had in black or beige, though. 

Other luxury details include second row entertainment screens and 14-speaker audio, electric folding for the third row seats, a cool box in the centre console as per Sahara tradition, heated steering wheel and the second row also scores heated and ventilated seats.

The GR Sport is next on the price tree at $137,790 MSRP, but shifts its philosophy from the Sahara’s luxury to more of a sporting or adventure flavour.  

This means black details and the classic TOYOTA uppercase badge on the grille, a bunch of GR badging, but also a bunch of unpainted plastic to make it more rugged when you’re off-road

It’s also only got five seats - trimmed with black or black and red leather - and loses the rear seat screens, which makes it ideal for mounting a fridge and a set of drawers in the boot for touring. 

Further supporting this notion are front and rear diff locks, and it’s the only model to get the clever e-KDSS active swaybar system for allowing more suspension travel on rough terrain. 

The top of the range Sahara ZX ($138,790 MSRP) is about the same price as the GR Sport, but has a more glitzy look, with bigger 20-inch wheels and a choice of black, beige or black and red leather options. The Sahara ZX seems to be the LandCruiser to buy if you spend a lot of time around town, ironically.

There’s a total of 10 colour options across the LC300 range, but only the top Sahara ZX is available in all of them, so check the brochure for the full breakdown.

For the record, the colour spectrum includes Glacier White, Crystal Pearl, Arctic White, Silver Pearl, Graphite (grey metallic), Ebony, Merlot Red, Saturn Blue, Dusty Bronze, and Eclipse Black.

One of the most recent 300 Series announcements has been the factory accessories range, which is ready to go with a choice of new and improved bullbars and nudge bars, a winch, recovery points, roof carrying systems in addition to the usual optional extras.

As always, these factory accessories are your best chance to retain all safety and mechanical functions, not to mention your warranty.

Engine & trans

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The GLA 250 comes with 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that makes a handy 165kW and 350Nm, which is sent to all four wheels using 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The claimed 0 to 100km/h time is 6.7 seconds.

Your silky smooth gearbox is an eight-speed, or 8G-DCT automatic, in Benz speak.

The engine feels powerful enough, without being exciting, and sounds pleasant enough, without sounding sporty - it's pretty much Goldilocks for an urban SUV.


Toyota Land Cruiser9/10

Yes, the V8 is dead, in the 300 Series at least, but don’t forget you can still get the single turbo version in the 70 Series. 

The LC300’s new 3.3-litre (3346cc) twin-turbo diesel V6 F33A-FTV engine promises to be better in every way though, and paired with a new 10-speed torque converter auto they promise more performance, efficiency, and refinement. 

With 227kW and 700Nm, the outright numbers are up 27kW and 50Nm over the 200 Series diesel, but interestingly the max torque band remains the same 1600-2600rpm.

The new engine’s move to a ‘hot V’ design, with both turbos mounted on top of the engine and the intercoolers moved to behind the bumper is more complicated than before, particularly for keeping things cool when you might be crawling over endless sand dunes in say, the Australian outback. 

But, Toyota engineers are confident that it will live up to all reliability expectations, and above all, I like the fact that the new engine has been designed for this car. It’s not like Toyota has cut corners by adapting an engine from the Prado or Kluger, and that says a lot in this day and age. 

It also has a timing chain, rather than a timing belt, and in keeping with the new engine’s Euro 5 emissions compliance, it also has a diesel particulate filter. 

I was surprised to experience the ‘DPF regen’ process three times across three of the four cars I drove during the LC300’s launch program, but if it weren’t for the alert in the driver display, I wouldn’t have been aware it was happening. All vehicles had less than 1000km on their odometers, and the process occurred on the highway as well as during slow-speed low-range off-roading. 

Before you ask, no there’s no hybrid version of the 300 Series yet, but there’s one under development.

Fuel consumption

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The GLA will require 95 RON fuel and claims to drink 7.5 litres per 100km, while producing 170g/km of CO2. 

Our slightly rushed launch drive didn't allow us to check that figure, sadly, but we will on our next, longer test.


Toyota Land Cruiser8/10

Toyota has paid attention to efficiency at every level of this new design, but even with a lighter body, smaller engine, more ratios and a lot more technology you’re still propelling 2.5 tonnes of tall car with big, chunky off-road tyres. 

So the new official combined consumption figure 8.9L/100km is only 0.6L better than the old V8 200 Series diesel, but it could be a lot worse. 

The 300 Series’ 110-litre fuel capacity is also 28 litres smaller than before, but this combined figure still suggests a very decent 1236km range between fills.

During my test I saw 11.1L/100km on the trip computer after a 150km stretch of 110km/h motorway, so don’t bank on achieving 1200km between fills all the time.

Driving

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

With such a high driving position, the worry is that you’re going to feel like you’re sitting on the new GLA rather than in it. 

But the fact is that, once I became accustomed to the fact that I couldn’t get the seat as low as I wanted to, it all became comfortable enough, and I could get on with fully appreciating the ride quality.

While the GLA has a good, Germanic solidity to the way the interior is bolted together - the doors are almost too heavy, I fact, and can be tough for little people to close - it’s the way it sits on the road that really impresses.

The little Benz soaks up the bumps, particularly in Comfort mode, and provides the kind of ride and handling quality that you’d expect in a six-figure German car. Or a Benz of old, you might say.

Critics of A Classes past were heard to complain that they just didn’t ride as softly or richly as a Mercedes should, but the company has put things to rights with its smaller cars in recent years and you really feel like you’re getting the badge you paid for here.

Step out of the cruisy, snoozy Comfort setting into Sport, however, and the CLA feels out of its, well, comfort zone. It’s almost too toey for its own good, wanting to lurch around, holding each gear desperately and making noises that are merely loud rather than sexy.

Engine noise is a little intrusive whenever you try and accelerate fiercely in the GLA, in fact, but there is some handy pace there if you really need it.

Fast driving does feel out of character for the GLA 250 variant, however, and those who want that kind of thing should wait for the AMG-fettled version that will arrive in the next month or so, bringing 225kW and 400Nm.

As a cornering weapon, this car is more of a butter knife, smoothing its way around bends with minimal bodyroll. It’s an urban SUV, and it drives like one, albeit a very good one.

Typically, the steering is also light and easy to use rather than heavy and talkative.

Being the 4-MATIC variant, the GLA 250 also offers an Off-Road mode, which takes full advantage of its torque-on-demand all-wheel-drive system, but sadly our slightly brief introduction to the car didn’t provide us with the chance to hurl it down a scree-covered mountain side, nor to test out its version of hill-descent control.


Toyota Land Cruiser9/10

When Byron drove the prototype version of the 300 Series earlier this year, he came away with only good impressions. 

Now that I’ve finally driven the finished car on and off road, It really seems that Toyota has nailed the brief. 

I covered about 450km on the highway in the Sahara and Sahara ZX, and it’s even more of a loungeroom on wheels than before. It’s quiet, comfortable, and more stable than I remember the 200 Series feeling, which is a big ask given how rugged the chassis is with so much off-road ability. 

With just myself on board the new V6 ticks over at just 1600rpm in 9th gear at 110km/h, which is exactly the kickoff point for max torque, so it takes a big hill before it needs to drop down to 8th gear. Even in 8th, it sits on just 1800rpm at 110km/h. 

What’s the point of 10th gear you might ask? Good question, as I only used it by selecting it manually, and the revs drop down to just 1400rpm at 110km/h. I can only imagine 10th comes in handy when you’re sitting on 130km/h for hours on end in the Northern Territory. I hope we can test that theory soon, but you get a good sense of capability well beyond what’s needed.

You can say the same for its off-road ability, with it being pretty amazing given how comfortable on the road it is. 

Following Toyota’s admittedly prescribed off-road loop, it represented about 5km of low-range, tight, generally loose rock surface, with climbs and descents you’d struggle to manage on foot. Also thrown into the mix were plenty of obstacles that got wheels well and truly in the air despite the 300’s excellent travel and articulation. 

With so much weight, you’d expect it to be pretty settled over such terrain, but it’s some achievement for something weighing 2.5 tonnes to manage its heft so well and simply walk around the track. If the gap isn’t too narrow, there’s a mighty good chance you’ll emerge on the other side.

I managed to get through all the above without creasing the alloy side steps - a traditional LandCruiser weakness - but plenty of the other cars on the day were showing the usual battle scars. They’re still a good buffer before you take out a sill, but stronger aftermarket steps or sliders would be a good move if you plan on using the LC300 to its full potential off-road.

I did all this on standard tyres with no modifications, straight out of the box, in a 2.5 tonne vehicle, that somehow manages to shrink around you when you’re tackling the tough stuff.

Little things like low range clicking in as soon as you flick the switch play a big role here, plus driver aids like really effective Hill Descent Control, and the new-generation Crawl Control that extracts every ounce of grip from the tyres is a lot less dramatic than it used to be.

Now granted I only managed to drive the GR Sport off-road, so its e-KDSS active swaybars suggest it will be the ultimate 300 Series for this sort of thing, so we’ll try to follow up with proper off-road tests of other grades as soon as possible.

I also briefly towed the pictured 2.9-tonne caravan, and while we look forward to bringing you a proper long-distance tow test, its performance with such a big van really underlines that the new model is an even better all-rounder than ever. 

Sitting at a steady 110/km/h, I did notice the bonnet fluttering toward the front, which some drivers may find distracting, particularly in the darker colours. 

I can’t recall noticing this in the 200 Series, and it’s likely a by-product of moving to an aluminium construction and also considering pedestrian impact absorption.

Back on the positive side of the ledger, the new LC300’s seats are among the most comfortable in the business, visibility is pretty good, so I suppose the only thing I haven’t been able to test is the headlight performance. Watch this space.

Safety

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The GLA has not been ANCAP or Euro NCAP crash rated yet, but the first car got five stars from the Euro test and was never ANCAP tested. It’s safe to say they design their cars around being damn sure they get five stars.

You’ll also be getting no less than nine airbags - front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passenger, sidebags for the rear occupants and a knee bag for the driver.

In terms of active safety, the Active Brake Assist - which works up to 60km/h - is standard, as is Blind Spot Assist, with exit-warning function, which alerts the driver to approaching cyclists or vehicles when they’re about to open their door. Active Lane Keep Assist is also standard, as are the Active Bonnet, Traffic Sign Assist and Cross Wind Assist.

But you will have to stump up for the Driving Assistance Package to get things like Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Braking Assist and Evasive Steering Assist.


Toyota Land Cruiser8/10

The new 300 Series is yet to score an ANCAP safety rating, but here’s curtain airbags covering all rows of seats, which properly cover third-row occupants. 

Also beyond the norm are side airbags up front and in the second row, plus knee bags for both front occupants. 

There’s no centre airbag up front, but a car this wide doesn’t necessarily need it to score top marks from ANCAP. Watch this space.

On the active safety front, highlights for all models include front auto emergency braking that has all the right smarts and is impressively active all the way between 10-180km/h. So it’s fair to describe it as city and highway AEB.

Note that the base GX misses out on key safety features including  front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts, which could lead to it being the only LC300 to miss out on a top safety rating.

Only from the VX model upwards do you get rear auto braking for static objects, and I can confirm, it works a treat.

 GXGXLVXSaharaGR SportSahara VX
AEBCity, HwyCity, HwyCity, Hwy, RearCity, Hwy, RearCity, Hwy, RearCity, Hwy, Rear
Rear cross-traffic alertN /*-->*/ YYYYY
Parking sensorsN /*-->*/ Front, RearFront, RearFront, RearFront, RearFront, Rear
Front row airbagsDriver, Knee, Pass, Side, CurtainDriver, Knee, Pass, Side, CurtainDriver, Knee, Pass, Side, CurtainDriver, Knee, Pass, Side, CurtainDriver, Knee, Pass, Side, CurtainDriver, Knee, Pass, Side, Curtain
Second row airbagsCurtain, SideCurtain, SideCurtain, SideCurtain, SideCurtain, SideCurtain, Side
Third row airbagsn/aCurtainCurtainCurtainn/an/a
Adaptive cruise control /*-->*/ Y /*-->*/ YYYYY
Blind-spot monitoringN /*-->*/ YYYYY
Lane departure warningY /*-->*/ YYYYY
Lane assistN /*-->*/ NYYYY

Ownership

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

Your GLA comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is Japanese good, if not Korean good. 

In terms of servicing, you can choose to purchase a Service Plan or pay as you go with capped-price servicing. 

The costs for three annual services are $2050 for the Service Plan, or $2550 with the Capped Price Servicing (first is $550, second is $750, third $1250). 

Service Plans can be bought in four or five-year lots, at $2950 and $3500 respectively.


Toyota Land Cruiser8/10

Like all new Toyotas, the new LC300 carries a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which is the status quo among mainstream brands at the moment, but the engine and driveline coverage extends to seven years if you stick to the service schedule. Roadside assistance will cost you extra though.

Service intervals are still a relatively brief six months or 10,000km, but the capped-price servicing plan has been extended to cover the first five years or 100,000km of ownership. 

So at a decent $375 per service, this totals an also-decent $3750 for the first ten services.