Toyota Land Cruiser VS Toyota HiLux
Toyota Land Cruiser
- Driving a living legend
- Tough-truck looks
- Go-anywhere capability
- Driving it on anything that’s not a mountain
- Trying to shut the door
- Contemplating the price
- Rugged appeal
- Improved safety
- A spec for everyone
- Yesteryear’s multimedia
- Not the best on-road ride
- Annoying six-month service interval
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.
|Engine Type||4.5L turbo|
When Toyota launched its HiLux ute in the late ‘60s, there’s no way the brand could have predicted predicted using it to own the Australian sales charts month after month in 2019.
Then again, I suppose a few years ago it would have been a laughable idea that dual-cabs rather than SUVs would have been snapping up the leagues of driveway spots once occupied by Falcons and Commodores.
The ute segment is one of the most hotly contested in Australia, though, so was the HiLux’s most recent rolling update and expanded range enough to keep it front of mind for Australia’s buyers? We took the popular SR5 4x4 spec for a weekly test and ran our eye over the rest of the range to find out.
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.
Not as car-like as the Ranger, but not as industrial as the D-Max, the HiLux provides a middle ground that will be ideal for a great many buyers looking for a truly capable dual-purpose ute.
There are some compromises in its expansive range, not least of which is its multimedia offering, but with an updated warranty and safety package the HiLux rightfully remains a formidable force in Australia’s dual-cab market.
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.
The HiLux isn’t pretty. It’s tough, almost industrial looking.
The 2020 model year brought with it a mild aesthetic nip and tuck for the exterior that included a new grille full of black gloss plastics.
I don’t like it. It looks all clunky now, I found the previous truck with its thin chrome grille was a little more resolved. My opinion aside, the HiLux looks undeniably ready for action, with its raised bumpers putting its approach and departure credentials on full show.
The extra chrome on the SR5 in its grille, door handles, bumpers, flashy 18-inch alloys, and sports bar really lift it above the rest of the HiLux range to give it that ‘top-spec’ look from a distance.
As mild as those tweaks seem, it’s part of what’s drawing customers to such highly-specified trucks.
The HiLux forgoes the American-truck look being popularized by its main rival, the Ranger, instead leaning into its cropped dimensions that have helped it lead the segment for so long in Australia.
The inside is unchanged from the pre-MY20 model, with a great many hard plastic surfaces and a little design going into the swept dashboard.
Unlike the Amarok or Ranger Wildtrak, though, the SR5 isn’t so plush you’d feel bad sullying it with work equipment.
The wheel feels great under hand, and the dash has a traditional layout that will please most, but there are a few annoyances here.
The system itself is clunky, with old, difficult-to-navigate menus and a lack of the latest phone connectivity tech. Don’t expect that to change any time soon, either. The HiLux’s media suite is too outdated to receive the connectivity updates on the way for much of Toyota’s refreshed passenger car range.
Aside from some poorly placed hard plastics and the jiggly suspension explored elsewhere in this review, the leather seats and padded trim for the driver on the doorcards make the cabin a decent place to be for long journeys.
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.
Toyota knows its target audience for the HiLux and has provided them with massive cupholders all around the front seats for gigantic bottles, meat pies and sausage rolls (and wallets, and phones…).
There are a few extra spaces around, a small trench under the air-conditioning controls, a double glove box set-up on the passenger’s side and a deep centre console box for everything else.
The back seat is decent on space, but not stellar. My 182cm frame can fit behind my own driving position with only a little airspace for my knees. A very welcome addition for the Australian summer at the SR5 grade is the presence of air vents on the back of the centre console stack.
The rear seat bases are on a 60/40 split and can be swung up to turn the rear portion of the cab into a more practical storage area.
The SR5’s tray won’t fit a standard Australian pallet, although few utes do. The dimensions come in at 1550mm long, and 1520mm wide (although this crops down to 1110mm between the wheel arches).
Toyota notes that the steel sports bar is not to be used for securing loads, leaving that task to four tie-down points around the edges of the tub. Those wanting to use the tray for more than recreational purposes will probably be saying goodbye to the sports bar before long.
In high-riding 4x4 trim, the HiLux has a payload of 955kg and a towing capacity of 750kg unbraked and 3200kg braked.
Those are just the figures stated by Toyota on paper, for a more in-depth look at the HiLux’s capacities, check out Mark Oastler’s TradieGuide review.
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.
To say the HiLux range is “expansive” is an understatement of epic proportions. There is a HiLux to suit almost any ute buyer – whether it’s for a fleet of stripped-down workhorses or a pre-packaged bells-and-whistles recreational off-roader.
This is a cornerstone of the truck’s success, for sure, but results in a range of 36 HiLux variations which can be overwhelming for consumers.
To break it down, there are now six HiLux trim levels consisting of (in price-ascending order): Workmate, SR, SR5, Rogue, Rugged, and Rugged X.
The entry-level Workmate has the most complicated range, as it is the only HiLux still available with either a 2.7-litre petrol or 2.8-litre diesel. It can also be had with either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto with the option of 4x4.
To complicate things further, it can be ordered with a body-matching tray, or as a cab-chassis.
The Workmate range alone stretches from $21,865 through to $46,865. It manages to undercut primary entry-level rival versions of the Mitsubishi Triton, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max, although the latter two come with diesel powertrains as standard.
Those looking for further bargains will have to venture into the relatively murky waters of Chinese alternatives.
Stepping up to the SR ($40,285 - $50,740) offers the choice of extra- or dual-cab bodystyles in 2.8-litre diesel automatic high-rider only and adds an improved list of equipment.
To save you from reading a short essay, we won’t outline the spec of every HiLux grade in this review, but our test car is the most popular SR5 variant, which is available only as a 4x4 hi-riding automatic in dual-cab form.
Standard equipment on this truck is a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with built-in nav (but not with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto yet… ), 18-inch alloy wheels, a colour display screen in the dash, body matching bumpers, a rear chrome step bumper, LED auto-leveling headlights, LED DRLs, privacy glass, side-steps, steel sports bar, cloth seat trim, carpeted floors (as opposed to vinyl), an air-conditioned console box, 220-volt accessory socket, single-zone climate control with rear air vents, and all-weather floor mats.
Our SR5 was fitted with the 'Premium Interior Package' which adds hardy leather interior trim with heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat ($2000), and the fetching 'Olympia Red' colour ($600).
On the technical front, the SR5 has disc brakes at the front, drum brakes at the rear, “heavy duty” suspension consisting of double wishbones at the front and leaf springs at the back, as well as a tow pack and rear locking differential as standard.
It has a low-range transfer case, downhill accelerator control, hill start assist, and underbody protection to round out its off-roading gear. We’ll look at capacities and dimensions later in this review.
The total cost (MSRP) of our truck came to $59,840 with the options fitted. A cool sixty thousand is significantly more expensive than the similarly-equipped Mitsubishi Triton GLX Plus ($43,490), or Nissan Navara ST-X ($55,250), and for the same money you can have the marginally better equipped Ford Ranger Wildtrak ($56,340) with the older 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine.
It’s a nice bit of kit, sure, plus you’re buying into the HiLux badge and the “rugged” reputation that goes with it, but it’s worth at least cross-shopping its rivals in such a competitive market.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to fork out extra for a tub-liner, as the SR5 doesn’t come with one.
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.
The HiLux continues with its well-regarded 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine in the SR5. Outputs are nominal for the segment, at 130kW/450Nm.
There’s nothing flashy about it. Not like the Ranger’s engines (which will get you more power from either an extra cylinder, or an extra turbo), or the Navara (extra turbo), or the D-Max (it’s literally a truck engine).
But the HiLux’s engine seems to pull it along at a fair pace for recreational duties. In terms of towing, a recent tow comparison had the HiLux falling behind the Ranger in terms of available torque, although ahead of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class which shares its powertrain with the Nissan Navara.
The six-speed auto was super compliant on my freeway and unsealed road tests and has performed the same way on previous comparison tests. The SR5 has a low-range transfer case with a rear differential lock as part of its drivetrain arsenal.
This truck’s ‘unbreakable’ visage was shaken lately with recent diesel particulate filter (DPF) issues, however Toyota claims those days are behind it with the introduction of a manual burn-off switch.
My freeway/unsealed/daily grind test week produced a fuel consumption figure of 10.1L/100km. That’s 1.6L/100km more than its official claimed/combined figure of 8.5L/100km.
Given the amount of freeway driving on our test, we think you’d be hard pressed to get below 9.0L/100km on any given day.
4x4 HiLuxes are diesel only and have an 80-litre tank.
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.
On the road, the HiLux backs its tough look with a tough feel. Visibility is great from the driver’s seat, and with the range of adjustability in the seat and wheel its fairly easy to find a driving position suited to most.
The ride is stiff to a fault on the road when unladen though, and after being on the road for three or so hours you’ll be well and truly sick of its ladder-chassis jiggle. It’s particularly bad around the rear where those leaf springs will transmit bumps and jolts to the passengers with impunity.
The HiLux has firm but not unduly stiff steering. There’s plenty of feedback from the front wheels, so it’s easy to feel out where they are in lower-speed off-road environments, too.
Lighter, more car-like steering can be had in the Ranger or Amarok, which benefit in the ease of maneuvering tight city environments, although the compromise is less feedback.
At least the HiLux’s steering isn’t as heavy as the Triton which can, at times, be genuinely unpleasant.
The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel chugs along about mid-way through the segment in terms of outputs and it feels it behind the wheel. Refinement is about what you’d expect. Not as quiet as the Amarok or Ranger, but also not as industrial as the D-Max.
The SR5 feels at home the moment you take it off the tarmac and onto an unsealed surface. The suspension feels much better here, chugging over bumps, rocks and clambering over obstacles with relative ease.
At higher speeds, those stiff rear springs can have the rear fishtailing around over corrugated surfaces, although this can be reined in a little by driving in 4H.
While my test was limited to a few unsealed trails in regional NSW, the more hardcore off-road test segment in our six-ute comparison test (which featured this exact truck) had the SR5 come first place over its direct rivals.
Make sure to read it for more on the HiLux’s off-road performance.
As it is, the SR5 is a capable dual-purpose truck on and off the road, although unlike some rivals it prioritises ability over day-to-day comfort.
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.
The 2020 HiLux updates brought with them a significant increase in standard safety gear.
Active items that make up Toyota’s 'Safety Sense' suite include auto emergency braking (AEB – with pedestrian and cyclist detection), lane departure warning (LDW), road sign assist (lets you know what the speed limit is), and active cruise control. That last one is more than welcome for long freeway trips.
Notably absent are blind spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), and driver attention alert (DAA).
On the side of expected safety refinements, the HiLux has seven airbags, stability, brake and traction controls, a reversing camera and hill start assist.
There are two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the outer two rear seats and three top-tether points.
This HiLux (from July 2019 onwards) has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
There are many utes on the market that still do not have the level of safety refinement now offered by the HiLux and this resonates down through its range.
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.
On the face of it, the HiLux looks promising. Strong dealer network, capped price servicing, and at long last a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty was introduced by the brand early in 2019.
Delving into the details a little proves the HiLux to be a bit frustrating, however. Although services are capped at an incredibly cheap-sounding $240, you’ll have to visit twice (maybe even three times) a year with intervals set at six months/10,000km.
Affordable, sure. Annoyingly frequent nonetheless.