Toyota Land Cruiser 300 is big, brawny and thirsty
The seven-seater 4x4 is now more powerful, polished and luxurious — but beware the fuel bills
The Land Cruiser has long served as Toyota’s flagship, spare-no-expense SUV, and the new 300 series recently replaced the long-running 200.
Like a boxer that’s bulked up into a higher weight category, the new vehicle looks more buff and muscular with its enlarged new rectangular grille alongside large horizontal slats. Though it is unchanged in size, its pugilistic façade and more angular body lines give the newcomer an altogether more aggressive and take-no-prisoners countenance.
The meaner-looking Land Cruiser comes with a concomitant increase in power. In the diesel side of the garage, a new 3.3l V6 turbo replaces the old 4.5 V8 turbo, with outputs rising by 32kW and 50Nm to 227kW and 700Nm.
In the petrol corner is the subject of this test, which is powered by the same 3.5l twin-turbo petrol V6 found in the Lexus LS 500. It sends 305kW and 650Nm through all-wheel drive via a 10-speed automatic, and makes for brawny power that keeps this 2.6-ton behemoth comfortably occupying the fast lane.
For its size the Land Cruiser gets out of the starting blocks briskly, having just a brief turbo-lag moment before thrusting forward at a lusty gait.
It guzzles fuel accordingly. The test vehicle averaged 16.3l /100km and never seemed like it would achieve the factory-claimed 12.1 figure, and buyers seeking superior parsimony will find a better buy in the diesel Land Cruiser 300 which claims 8.9l.
The petrol V6 sounds a subtly sporting battle cry, without becoming too vocal. Refinement is top notch in this big Toyota, and unwanted external noises are well muted in the seven-seater cocoon.
A cushy ride quality is part of the polished all-round package, and this all-terrain chariot soaks up gravel roads and bumpy off-road trails with impressive comfort.
It is too large and heavy to conjure adjectives such as “agile”, but the new Land Cruiser is lighter and more torsionally rigid than its predecessor, with a lower centre of gravity to improve handling. The suspension can be firmed up for better cornering prowess in the Sport setting, one of six driving modes that cater for varying conditions.
The Land Cruiser 300 is an all-new, ground up design but retains its predecessor’s robust ladder-frame chassis, the preferred construction when tackling serious off-roading. It is just as accomplished an adventure vehicle as its forerunner, with the same generous approach and departure angles, a useful 235mm ride height, traction-enhancing diff lock and low range transfer case.
A Multi-Terrain Select system automatically judges the driving surface and adopts an appropriate driving mode. A crawl function takes over the throttle, allowing the vehicle to be guided slowly and safely in extreme off-road environments.
A Multi-Terrain Monitor provides digital eyes on the surface beneath and immediately surrounding the vehicle and the position of the wheels. It makes the big hulk less intimidating to thread through parking lots and narrow off-road trails.
There are three model grades starting with the utility-focused GX-R, while for the first time on Land Cruiser, a Gazoo Racing Sport (GR-S) grade serves as the off-road performance model. It has bespoke exterior styling and trim, rugged 18-inch alloy wheels, and an off-road-biased specification list.
On test here is the luxury ZX priced at R1,797,100 which comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, chrome detailing and more luxurious interior trim. The cabin radiates a premium ambience with its open-pore wood accents and generous lashings of leather.
As before the Land Cruiser is a seven-seater with three rows. The rearmost seats are spacious enough for adults and they fold up and down electrically at the touch of a button.
With all seats occupied the boot space is limited, but there’s up a giant 1,967l of cargo room when the rear rows are folded down, and a full-sized spare wheel is mounted under the chassis.
Toyota Safety Sense is fitted to both the ZX and GR-S grades and offers lane keeping assist, radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, adaptive high beam and rear cross traffic alert. The lane keeping felt overly forceful when the vehicle strayed onto a painted line, however, so we opted to switch the feature off most of the time.
The ZX ticks all the luxury boxes with items including heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charger and front and rear seat entertainment systems with USB ports galore.
A fridge between the front seats keeps drinks cool as you guide this road ship through whatever trails take your fancy.
The new Land Cruiser 300 continues the go-anywhere-in-luxury legacy of its forebears. This is a vehicle you could cross continents in, with up to seven people.
Type: Six-cylinder petrol turbo
Type: Ten-speed automatic, low-range transfer case
Type: Permanent all-wheel drive
Top speed: 210km/h (claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 12.1l/100km (claimed); 16.3l/100km (as tested)
Navigation, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, central locking, cruise control, keyless start, stability control, ABS, nine airbags, leather upholstery, multifunction steering wheel, rain sensor, multiterrain monitor, drive modes, hill-assist control, crawl control, lane-keeping assist, rear-seat entertainment system, electrically adjustable front seats, electrically adjustable steering column, headed and cooled front seats, adaptive cruise control, adaptive variable suspension, head-up display
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Maintenance plan: Nine services/90,000km
Lease*: R38,277 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.5T ZX
Ride comfort, off-road ability, luxury
A luxurious continent-crosser
****Value For Money
Land Rover Defender 110 P400 X, 294kW/550Nm — R1,779,230
Nissan Patrol 5.6 V8 LE, 298kW/560Nm — R1,618,900
Lexus LX 570, 270kW/530Nm — R2,040,200
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