One in ten (million) LandCruisers were sold in Australia in its seven-decade history. So while in some respects the new-generation 300 Series, cut from conventional cloth as a replacement for its 14-year-old LC200 forebear, might appear a COTY outlier of sorts, its nameplate whets local motoring appetites quite unlike many of its COTY competitors here.
The new LC300, here in middling VX spec, sticks unapologetically to a tried-and-true mould. Meddling with its go-anywhere, lug-anything mettle wrapped in luxury’s lap would be risky business for Toyota.
LandCruiser’s headline shake-up, though, is its powertrain. Every judge remarked on the polished, refined and fitting marriage of the new, characterful 3.3-litre diesel six and slick 10-speed automatic.
With 227kW and 700Nm, it’s amply fit and effortless (and a 8.9L/100km claim is appreciably frugal, all things considered), while dispatching its archaic 4.5-litre V8 diesel forebear to history … even if many diehards would have happily seen the dirty, lazy old V8 slog on into eternity.
Thus motivated, the ‘LandCrusher’ pummelled the AARC’s various testing disciplines, all the while delivering consummate comfort, particularly across the gravel and rough-road course. But it is wallowy and unwieldy as a default, and the big Toyota demands that the driver keep well on top of its 2.6-tonne mass and flailing inertia on either sealed or broken surfaces.
“The meaty V6 suits LC300’s tough persona,” said Jez, “but it’s still cumbersome on the road.”
While proper off-roading sits outside COTY’s usual assessment wheelhouse, it’s unfair not to take such a large slice of LandCruiser’s remit into consideration. So we deferred to the expertise of our sister title 4×4 Australia, who were putting their own LC300 through their concurrent annual awards event at the AARC.
“Dynamics feel familiar, but powertrain is in another dimension” – Dylan Campbell
Against more dedicated mud-kickers, the LandCruiser garnered high praise for its well-rounded, largely compromise-free capabilities. It remains a go-to choice amongst the toughest of contemporary competition for long-haul touring across the broadest range of terrains. Fighting fit for purpose, then.
“Excellent traction and loose-surface manners,” Dan reckoned. “Lots of bodyroll does compromise dynamics, but what do you expect?”
In particular, its new-school electronically governed traction smarts do compensate well for a distinct lack of dedicated off-roading hardware. Indeed, our VX version, while featuring dual-range drive, lacks front and rear mechanical differential locking of harder-core machinery – such as Toyota’s 70 Series – or adaptive damping found in big-dollar luxury off-roaders.
That Toyota has hiked pricing across the model range by five figures in new 300 guise – our middling VX lists for $115K – without significant specification change to show for it certainly weighed against the LandCruiser’s value pitch.
“General refinement is a mixed bag,” Alex noted. “There’s a lot of shudder and movement through the body on the rough course, though highway refinement is strong.”
From the inert hydraulic steering to the fake-wood plastic trim inserts, the LC300 feels thoroughly old-school if unmistakably familiar. Its busy cabin design throws back to a bygone design ethos despite the odd contemporary flourish, while interior packaging, in comparison to the space-efficient and vastly roomier Carnival and Palisade at COTY, appears a big concession to LandCruiser’s imposing exterior form and proportions.
“Third-row accommodation is disappointing for LandCruiser’s size,” said Richard. “Interior has a robust feel, albeit with an archaic interface.”
Ultimately, the LC300 panders to its devoted fanbase via uncomplicated capability and rudimentary execution. And offering buyers what they want undoubtedly underpins its popularity. But the absence of significant advancement – beyond the powertrain – didn’t do the big Toyota any favours against much of the COTY judging criteria.
|Engine||3346cc V6 turbo diesel|
|Power||227kW @ 4000rpm|
|Torque||700Nm @ 1600-2600rpm|
|Transmission||10-speed automatic, 4WD|
|Safety||5 stars (ANCAP)|
|Weight (heavier than claimed)||50kg|
|Noise at 100km/h||68.8db|