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Toyota Land Cruiser


Land Rover Discovery Sport

Summary

Toyota Land Cruiser

Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Toyota LC70 LandCruiser GX single cab with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

You take your life into your own hands when you say this, but the 70 Series Toyota LandCruiser isn't perfect. In fact, it isn't perfect in lots of ways.

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But such is the burning passion for this Aussie (well, Japanese) icon that any criticism of it, no matter how fair, is greeted with howls of protests by our bearded brethren of the bush, who will accept nothing less than top marks for the mighty ‘Cruiser.

And it's hard to blame them: if your morning commute includes cresting glorious mountains and powering through standing water deep enough to swallow a hatchback, you'll find few that do it better than the hard-as-nails Toyota

There's a reason people say the 70 Series LandCruiser powers the Aussie bush, and that's because it's the place where this vehicle feels truly at home. When you're thousands of kilometres from anywhere else, durability and reliability count above all. And this tough Toyota offers that in spades.

But… if you live in the city, can see a city from your house, or have ever visited a city (or seen a photo of one), then the 70 Series LandCruiser will feel a touch agricultural. And by that we mean there are forklifts that offer more creature comforts than this thing. 

We spent a week with one of the most utilitarian of the lot - the LC79 GX cab chassis ($64,990) - to see how we'd get along.

Safety rating
Engine Type4.5L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency10.7L/100km
Seating3 seats

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover is an interesting beast. For years there was the Defender, then the Range Rover, then the Discovery, and now suddenly there are Land and Range Rovers everywhere.

Add in the Range Rover Evoque, Sport, and Velar, and there's something for just about everyone in this SUV-mad world. If Land Rover's founders were around, they's probably be mildly perplexed.

Despite this two decade old trend, Land Rover has had trouble firing in the mid-size segment. The Freelander was a bit odd-looking, and sadly not good enough for the nameplate to make it to a third generation.

The option was a clean sweep to try and find something suitably rugged or take something already rugged and add a Sport badge to it. The Discovery Sport was born and that gave the brand a new entry point for those who couldn't get away with - or didn't want - an Evoque.

The Discovery Sport has been with us a for a while, so it was time for a check-in on Land Rover's mid-sizer.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Toyota Land Cruiser6.5/10

It’s loud, rough and so overtly masculine you can feel the hairs growing on your chest as you drive it. And while we couldn’t live with it day-to-day, we applaud the fact it exists.

Tell us your best LC70 LandCruiser story in the comments below.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7.4/10

It's a bit of a packing crate on wheels - although less than the Discovery - but looks pretty good while doing it. Even though the base price is attractive, its difficult to see anybody taking a stock SE from the lot and I'd be willing to bet Land Rover would bring in two or three and then spend a year finding buyers for them.

Ultimately, this is a car that covers a lot of ground. It works well in the city, can go much further than most German rivals could hope to (would you cross the Simpson in BMW, Merc or Audi?) and does it all with exceptional interior comfort.

Is the Discovery Sport worthy of the first part of its name? Let us know in the comnments below.

Design

Toyota Land Cruiser6/10

Function over form is the order of the day here. Everything that exists on the exterior of the LC79 is there for a reason, from its chunky and thick tyres, the monstrous plastic snorkel or the chicken wire-style mesh that protects the back windscreen like that honky-tonk bar from The Blues Brothers (Bob's Country Bunker - Ed).

There's an undeniable retro-cool to the look (mostly because it is retro, and has barely changed over the years), mixed with a kind of overt masculinity thanks to its bulbous bonnet scoop and a huge bumper bar that juts forth from the grille like Jay Leno's chin.

Inside, it's clean and functional. Expect no touchscreen here. Nor a digitalised driver's binnacle, reversing camera or electric anything. When you leave the car, for example, you need to push down the door-lock button and then hold the door handle up as you slam the door. The last time I remember doing that I think I had a beeper attached to my belt.

Everywhere you turn there are reminders that this car was born in an era when tough mattered. Even shutting the door requires a monstrous effort, with anything but the most brutal of force resulting in a warning light on the dash that serves as a blinking reminder you lack the physical strength to manhandle this car. Needless to say, we saw that light quite a lot.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The Discovery Sport's exterior design is pretty much bang-on. The brand has steadily moved away from the square-rigging of the Defender and is entering a fairly happy medium of style and substance. It does look substantial but with the chamfering here, the chiselling there and the (optional) LED daytime running lights, looks thoroughly contemporary without the outright style-chasing of the Rangies.

Inside is a little less inspiring, but again working within how the brand chooses to present itself. Everything works quite well and is very functional and that's exactly how it looks. There are few jarring moments, just nothing spectacular or super-stylish.

Practicality

Toyota Land Cruiser7/10

Is your view of practicality being able to drive up practically anything? Then Toyota's got good news for you. Better still, the LC79 GX has a claimed payload of 1235kg and a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes - both of which are impressive numbers. 

Inside, the basic two-seat layout offers a single cupholder to share between passengers, but a storage bin between the seats comes in handy for securing loose items.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

It's a lofty cabin, so four on board is a very comfortable proposition. Behind my driving position I chauffeured a 188cm (6'2") gentleman with room to spare, so most teenagers will be more than happy. 

Front, middle and third row dwellers score a pair of cupholders each, for a total of six, with a matching number of bottle holders. Liberally sprinkled through the car are traditional 12V, 5V and USB power supplies, so if you run out, you have Too Many Things To Charge.

Being a Land Rover Discovery, Sport or not, you are not unreasonably expecting plenty of space for outdoor, windswept activities. The boot space kicks off at 829 litres (LR quotes 981, I suspect that is packed floor to ceiling), with a maximum of 1698 litres with all seats folded away.

All four doors open wide, it's easy to load kids and you can slide the middle row forward and back to bring the kids within striking distance, er, closer to your love.

Kerb-to-kerb you'll turn it around without hitting anything in a biggish 11.7m, requiring another 20cm if you're suffering an Austin Powers stuck-between-two-walls moment. You can also wade in up to 600mm (without me, if that's okay) and ground clearance is 221mm. Approach angle is 23.4 degrees with a ramp angle of 20.0 degrees and departure of 31.0 degrees.

Price and features

Toyota Land Cruiser6/10

Cost of entry for the LC79 GX is $64,490 (the same as the LC76 GXL Wagon), which is no picnic no matter how you shake it. And that spend buys you a fairly sparse product.

All creature comforts are cost extra. Air-conditioning, for example, adds $2761 to the bottom line. The tray, tow bar, and trailer wiring harness add another $4305 (but that's the fitted cost), and our test car also got diff locks, which add another $1500. All of which brings the final number to a touch over $73k, before on-road costs.

For that, you get cloth seats, plastic door trims and a scattering of ashtrays. Your radio is Bluetooth-equipped, your windows are manually operated and your plastics are so hard they could be used to cut diamonds.

But all of that is superfluous, really. What you're buying is a tried-and-tested workhorse, and this one has been put through an extra 100,000kms of what Toyota calls "extreme heavy-duty local testing". Toyota toured mine sites and cattle farms across the country, taking in the red dirt of the outback to the rocky escarpments of alpine country to the towering sand dunes of the northern NSW, feeding that information back to Japan while the LC79 was being developed.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

The Discovery Sport comes in three trim levels with up to five engine tunes. Our week was spent with the entry-level SE spec (which is followed by HSE and HSE Luxury, a familiar pattern across Jaguar Land Rover) and the perky 177kW SD4 turbo-diesel.

You have a choice of three diesels - TD4 110, TD4 132 and SD4 177, as well as two petrols - Si 4 177kW and 213kW.

The SD4 SE weighs in at $66,455, a chunky $9860 more than the cheapest, 110kW SE. For that you get the strongman engine, a 10-speaker Meridian-branded stereo, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, a well stocked safety list, reversing camera, sat nav, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto wipers and headlights, electric front seats, partial leather trim, folding heated mirrors, electric tailgate, variable ratio power steering and a full size alloy spare.

There are a truckload of options available and Land Rover never disappoints with its choice of inclusions on press cars. We had the '5+2' seating ($3400), 'Black Pack' exterior ($1160), head up display ($1590), 'Entertainment Pack' (17 speakers, 'Navigation pro', $3750), metallic paint ($1370), 'Blind Spot Monitor' and reverse cross traffic alert ($1210), 12 way electric front seats ($1130), black roof ($970)... look, it went on for a bit and landed the car as tested at $86,485.

To be fair, most of the stuff was cosmetic or convenience, but the blind spot and RTCA being options is a tad rugged.

The 'InControl' screen is a healthy 10.0-inch unit and runs a fairly useable iteration of JLR's own software. As things go, it's not too bad but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (yet). The sat nav input is still maddeningly slow, however.

Engine & trans

Toyota Land Cruiser7/10

It's a single-engine offering right across the LC70 range, with a torque-rich 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 paired with a five-speed manual transmission the only combo on offer. The engine generates 151kW at 3400rpm, but a very healthy 430Nm from a low 1,200rpm.

Like the rest of the LC70 range, the LC79 has undergone an engine upgrade in line with Euro5 standards (the very standards that saw the demise of the Land Rover Defender and Nissan Pathfinder), with a diesel particulate filter added and a tweaking of the gear ratios to make second and fifth taller for better fuel economy. Stability and traction control were also included for the first time in October last year.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The SD4 unit is JLR's own 'Ingenium' unit. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, good for 177kW and a brawny 500Nm. Power and road meet via all four wheels and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The benchmark run from 0-100km/h is dispatched in 7.5 seconds, which is swift enough and not bad for 1.9 tonnes of SUV. The Disco Sport is rated to tow 2500kg of braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.

Fuel consumption

Toyota Land Cruiser6/10

The tweaks have seen fuel economy improve by up to 1.2 litres per hundred kilometres, now a claimed/combined 10.7L/100km. CO2 emissions are also a little better, now 281 grams per kilometres - 32 grams less than before.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover claims the Discovery Sport will sip 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle. The best we could manage was an even 10.0L/100km in a mix of suburban and freeway running (split about 70/30).

Driving

Toyota Land Cruiser7/10

A nightmare on anything even resembling an actual road. The steering is the same soft and spongy experience you'll find in most serious four-wheel drives, while the suspension feels like it sees more travel than your average pilot. 

The turning circle, too, is a curiosity, turning even the most rudimentary U-turns into a three-point effort (if you're lucky). Toyota claims the turning circle figure as 14.4 metres, which is considerably longer than the wagon version. The blame is laid at the feet of the cab chassis' longer wheelbase (3180mm versus 2780mm).

But this is a car set up almost entirely for serious off-road work. And we mean serious. Those who tackle nothing harder than the gravel driveway of a Hunter Valley winery need not apply. The floor matts are constructed from hard-wearing (and easy to hose out) plastic, while the gearing is set up with first gear so short is serves almost no purpose on the tarmac.

Get it moving, and there's heaps of torque available for mid-range acceleration, and it's plenty brisk enough for overtaking, but the ride doesn't inspire confidence on the freeway, and we found ourselves travelling at just below the speed limit instead of on it. At 100km/h, though, it buzzes about, even with Toyota's focus on improved NVH this time around.

But all of that is largely irrelevant. If you're buying this car to navigate sealed roads, then there's probably something quite wrong with you. In fact, even if lightweight 4WDing is in your future, this car is overkill. There are plenty of cheaper options (including those from Toyota) that will tackle some pretty serious terrain, but will do it in what will feel like luxurious comfort by comparison.

If you require the battle-hardened services of a retro-styled legend, however, Toyota's 70 Series LandCruiser is the car for you. In fact, with stricter emission programs spelling the end for Nissan's Pathfinder and the Land Rover Defender, it's just about your only option.

Full disclosure: We didn't venture far off road (we saved that for the LC76 GXL Wagon), but with the same basic architecture, the same 4WD set-up (two-speed transfer case with auto-locking front hubs), and the addition of Toyota's off-road focused 'A-TRC' active traction control (which serves as kind of off-road and digital LSD, preventing wheel spin on low-grip surfaces), we're confident it would shine just as brightly.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

You do very much notice that this is a big thing before you even climb aboard. The doors are substantial and could double as Sydney to Hobart spinnakers, the trade-off being huge door apertures making it easy for all shapes and sizes to get in.

CarsGuide's 'Patron saint of Height', Richard Berry, found that out while loading his young son Ed in his own week with a Discovery Sport. My son, who is approaching Richard's height at a rapid rate, found the rear seats equally comfortable.

The driving position is classic 'high and commanding', with a terrific view in all directions and that Land Rover core value of knowing where each of the corners is.

Fire up and the diesel grumbles for a bit before settling down into a whooshy, distant feel. Throttle response is impressive and, as always, the nine-speed transmission manages most of the things you throw it at apart from sudden lift-offs at middling speeds where it can get a bit confused.

Body roll is consistent and well managed by the dampers and springs and if you can find a park big enough, it's easy to place, something magnified by the Kluger we had the week before - that thing is a pain to park because the cameras and mirrors aren't set up to help you.

If you put it into 'Dynamic' mode, things sharpen up and it feels good. It's never going to be super sprightly and you are still driving a very tall car on long travel suspension, but it handles a bit of a push with surprising vigour.

Both ends of the spectrum are largely down to the steering - with a variable rack ratio, the amount of wheel twirling required changes depending on speed, attitude and driving mode.

The ride around town is mostly good, but as with past experience with the optional wheels bolted on, probably a little less plush than you might expect. It does thunk a bit through depressions in the road, but you're well insulated from the predictable tyre noise.

Being a giant sook, I didn't throw the Discovery Sport down an off-road track so I could, a) take it to its limits, and, b) get photos of the car in mud and rivers and stuff.

The first and last thing you notice about the Disco Sport is that it feels like its bigger Discovery sibling when pottering about. Plenty of SUV buyers I talk to love that big lazy feel and the Disco Sport delivers, along with genuine off road capability.

Safety

Toyota Land Cruiser6/10

Part of this latest update saw Toyota upgrade the safety credentials of its LC70 range, and while the wagon variants oddly missed out on some of the changes, the LC79 got the lot. 

The entire range now gets traction control, stability control, hill-start assist, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution as standard kit, while the single-cab models (including the LC79) got new under-dash padding, new seats and seating frames, and new and stronger body panels.  

The utes also scored three extra airbags (joining the two front bags), including two curtain bags and a driver's knee airbag. The result was a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, tested against 2016 criteria.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Jaguar Land Rover's Halewood, UK factory fits seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning and hill descent control.

The Discovery Sport scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in April 2015. It is worth noting that the side curtain airbags do not reach the third row of seats.

Ownership

Toyota Land Cruiser7/10

The LandCruiser LC79 GX is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty, and will require a visit to a service centre every six months or 10,000 kilometres. 

Toyota's capped-price servicing program limits the cost of each service to $340 for each of the first six services.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover offers a three-year/100,000km warranty along with roadside assistance extended every time you service the car at an authorised dealer. The package includes extracting you if you're bogged on four-wheel drive tracks.

Service intervals are set at 12 months/16,000km and you can pre-purchase six years of servicing for around $1500.