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Marcus Craft road tests and reviews the 2016 Holden Trailblazer LTZ with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Mark Oastler road tests and reviews the new Toyota LC78 LandCruiser TroopCarrier GXL with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Launched in 1985 as a spiritual successor to the legendary 40 Series, the mighty Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series has survived more than three decades for one compelling reason - in the heavy duty 4x4 market it has no equal. Global sales have topped 1.3 million and 260,000 of those, or almost one in five, have been sold in Australia.
In late 2016 Toyota released a revamped range featuring a broad sweep of upgrades to ensure it would continue to meet the diverse requirements of local buyers. According to Toyota these enhancements were the result of more than five years' work and 100,000km of local testing, most of which was conducted in extreme off-road conditions.
The end result is an unprecedented 5-star ANCAP safety rating for the LC79 single cab-chassis (as demanded by its lucrative fleet customer base) plus improvements in safety, fuel economy, emissions and convenience features across the range.
Our test vehicle was the LC78 Troop Carrier GXL. At $67,990 the GXL costs $3100 more than the entry level WorkMate version and for that you get front and rear diff locks, aluminium side steps, front fog lamps and a decent sprinkling of chrome, although you do miss out on the usual GXL alloy wheels. Inside there's a five-seat capacity with rear bench seat, central locking/keyless entry, power windows and antenna, multi-function clock and four-speaker sound system.
Rigid live axles front and rear may be 'old school' but they underpin a well-proven suspension system unmatched for ruggedness and load-carrying ability.
All 70 Series models are now equipped with cruise control (at last) plus the convenience of auto-locking front hubs and a new fuse box with a bank of 10 fuses to allow for safe and easy connection of accessories. There's also a suite of new electronic active safety features plus engine and drivetrain revisions resulting in fuel economy and emission gains. Factory air-con is still a $2761 option.
The Troopie's tough ladder frame chassis has a unique 2980mm wheelbase, which slots in between the shorter 2730mm LC76 wagon and longer 3180mm LC79 cab-chassis. New single-piece 6J x 16-inch steel wheels and tubeless 225/95 16C tyres replace the old split rims and tubes, plus there's a full-size spare.
Rigid live axles front and rear may be 'old school' but they underpin a well-proven suspension system unmatched for ruggedness and load-carrying ability. Massive locating arms, coil springs and a big anti-roll bar control the front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs in the rear.
The dash/cabin layout has been honed into a basic and functional work space after decades of hard service.
Impressive off-road credentials include a 35 degree approach angle, 25 degree departure angle, a ramp-over angle of 27 degrees and wading depth of 700mm. Another unique Troopie feature is its twin 90-litre fuel tanks with a vast potential touring range of more than 1200km. Steering is still circa-1985 recirculating ball with power assistance, and braking is via four large ventilated discs.
The dash/cabin layout has been honed into a basic and functional work space after decades of hard service. The front seats have to be slid and tilted forward to allow rear passengers to climb aboard. The bench seat provides them with adequate shoulder, head and legroom for adults, along with ample ventilation through sliding glass side windows and good forward vision from the seat's elevated or 'grandstand' positioning.
Like the HiAce Crew van, this bench can also be folded, tumbled forward and stored upright to create more load space. The only negatives here, also shared with HiAce, are the lack of top-tether or ISOFIX child restraints and only providing head rests and lap-sash belts for the two outer passengers, leaving no head rest and only a lap belt for the middle passenger.
The revered 1VD-FTV 4.5 litre turbo-diesel V8 produces 151kW at 3400rpm and peak torque of 430Nm across a very broad 2000rpm torque curve from 1200-3200rpm. Upgrades include a diesel particulate filter as part of new Euro 5 emissions compliance and a switch to piezo-electric diesel injectors which Toyota claims produces better torque delivery at low engine speeds.
These upgrades contribute to a claimed 10 per cent boost in fuel economy and a 32 grams/km reduction in CO2 emissions, helped along by taller second and top gears in the five-speed manual gearbox. The near 7.0 per cent taller second cog better fills the gap between second and third while the near 15 per cent taller fifth provides a much needed drop of around 800rpm at highway speeds.
The part-time dual-range 4x4 system now features the convenience of auto-locking front hubs with a manual lock option. The GXL Troopie's standard front and rear diff locks are worth their weight in gold off-road.
A kerb weight of 2325kg and GVM of 3300kg allows a useful payload of 975kg. Securing a load in the cavernous area behind the rear seat is not possible given the glaring omission of any tie-down points on the floor, although a genuine Toyota cargo barrier is available ($600 installed), and we'd suggest it's a must.
The 70 Series is primarily a truck designed for an off-highway life which is why it still feels like no other Toyota.
Toyota claims a class-benchmark braked towing capacity of 3500kg, which, given the Troopie's 6800kg GCM, means it can tow 3.5 tonnes while carrying its maximum payload. Most impressive.
The spartan interior has slim storage pockets at the base of each door, a single glove box and a single bottle holder with 12 volt outlet at the front of the console. There's another open tray between the front seats for holding small items, with a deeper one behind which can hold two large bottles.
Toyota claims a combined cycle figure of 10.7 litres/100km, which differs from our 'real world' figures taken from trip meter and bowser readings of 13.6 litres/100km.
The 70 Series is primarily a truck designed for an off-highway life which is why it still feels like no other Toyota. The slightly vague recirculating ball steering, solid axles and two tonne-plus kerb weight convey a feeling of great strength and solidity, like the tyres are being pressed down into the terrain rather than sitting on top of it.
The driver is perched high with a commanding view over the dashboard and bonnet which is ideal for off-road work. The door window glass starts just above knee height, providing excellent side vision, too and a clear view of the big door mirrors. The driver's left footrest is also ideally positioned, although the armrest on the driver's door could use a bit of padding where the right knee often hits against it.
The Troopie, like all 70 Series Toyotas, is not well suited to suburban and city duties but is now much better on the open road thanks to the new, overdriven fifth gear (0.750:1). This results in only 1900rpm at 100km/h and 2000rpm at 110km/h. The addition of cruise control makes these highway speeds even more tolerable.
It cleared every obstacle we aimed it at with admirable ease.
The ride quality on bitumen when empty or lightly loaded is firm with limited compliance over bumps, which is understandable given the suspension is designed to cope with a near 7.0 tonne GCM. Tyre noise at highway speeds can be intrusive depending on the road surface and wind noise is noticeable. Not surprising, given the house brick aerodynamics and a big snorkel mounted on the near vertical driver's windscreen pillar.
Its 3.91:1 diff ratio, 2.49:1 transfer case reduction and 4.53:1 first gear combine to create a super low 44:1 crawl ratio. Combined with the GXL's standard front and rear diff locks and torquey V8, the Troopie proved unstoppable at Melbourne's 4x4 Training and Proving Ground.
It cleared every obstacle we aimed it at with admirable ease, from steep, deeply-potholed and rock-strewn natural climbs to creek crossings and man-made sections with ramp angles approaching 45 degrees in places. The V8's massive engine braking when descending the same terrain was just as impressive. With feet off the pedals it calmly walked its way down the steepest slopes at its own surefooted pace. We couldn't fault it.
Incidentally, we took the Troopie over much of the same terrain used for the recent launch of the Mercedes G-Professional cab-chassis and it cleaned each section just as well, if not better. Not bad considering the Toyota is about half the price and offers a cabin environment that feels almost luxurious compared to the bare-boned German's.
The maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety rating applies only to single cab-chassis models. The rest of the 70 Series fleet is unrated but shares an electronic safety package comprised of driver and passenger airbags, vehicle stability control (VSC), active traction control (A-TRC), hill-start assist control (HAC), brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, in addition to existing anti-lock brakes (ABS).
The 70 Series is covered by a three year/100,000km warranty, plus five year perforation (rust through) warranty.
Service intervals are six months/10,000km, with capped price servicing of $340 per service up to the first six services for three years or 60,000km, whichever comes first.
$62,920 - $72,380
Based on third party pricing data
If most of your driving is on bitumen roads and in suburban/city traffic, the 70 Series Troopie is still not for you and it makes no apologies for that.
However, if you need a large internal load area, occasional five-seat capacity, and most of your driving is on unsealed roads and off-road terrain (involving lots of hard grind under maximum GVM and GCM loads and in extreme weather), you couldn't ask for a tougher, more capable and better proven companion for the money. In short, 1.3 million customers can't be wrong.
Based on third party pricing dataVIEW PRICING & SPECS
$62,920 - $72,380
Based on third party pricing data