Toyota’s new LandCruiser 300 Series has been a big story of late, with a touch of soap opera.
In 2019 Toyota celebrated 10 million LandCruisers sold, over ten percent of them finding homes and worksites Down Under.
Australians love Prado, 70 Series and the ageing, now-replaced 200 Series wagon. 2022’s arrival sees unprecedented times: vehicle demand explodes (in contrary to some forecasts), supply becomes strangled and pricing goes bonkers across much of the motoring landscape.
Our country’s critical mass of LandCruiser lovers want – no, need – them more than ever.
Mid-turmoil, an all-new 300 Series arrives. The beloved V8 retires yet there are whopping price hikes across the new wagon range. Initially, there were just 500 available examples.
Crook supply, go-slow production, pesky semiconductors or something… demand and price gouging hits Defcon Five amid concocted conspiracy theories and much finger pointing.
All I want is for someone to pass the popcorn so I can watch from the sidelines, but I’m charged with sensibly reviewing the new 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 GX in nonsensical times. I’m tempted to just stick ‘For Sale: best offer’ on its windscreen, packet the mother-load and disappear to a Greek island, Jason Bourne-style, for the next decade.
You see the way things currently sit, I could probably ask what I want for a clean base-model LandCruiser…
Well, how much have you got? I’m only half-joking…
Officially, Toyota Australia recommends you pay its recommended list for a new example through its dealer network and that figure is $89,990 before on-road costs.
That’s $9000 up on the 200 Series GX version it replaced. This means a new base LandCruiser is not far from six figures drive-away.
For reasons we’ve forensically examined elsewhere in our wider LC300 coverage – good luck with achieving the quoted figures when it comes to the actual changeover in these strange times.
The two immediate variants above the GX include the GXL ($101,790) and then the VX ($113,990) – or at least those are the figures published on the official price list for brand-new examples. Beyond that microcosm, it’s ‘welcome to the wild west’.
What are the rivals for this entry-grade, steel-wheeled, five seat only, diesel-six powered, upper-large sized 4WD?
Nissan’s Patrol Ti-L, at around $95k, is close in outlay and girth but it’s petrol V8 exclusively.
If the LandCruiser’s rubber mats, plastic snorkel, basic fit-out and Toyota network ownership experience are your thing, you’re not realistically considering fancier diesel SUVs from Audi, BMW, Land Rover or Volkswagen.
Premium paint, such as our tester’s Silver Pearl, commands an extra $675.
Landcruiser 300 GX highlights:
- Five-seat interior
- Single-piece lift-back tailgate
- LED headlights, DRLS and tail lights
- Dusk-sensing headlights
- Adaptive cruise control
- Mud guards and snorkel
- Keyless entry and start
- Dual-zone climate control
- 9.0-inch infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)
- Nine-speaker stereo
- 4.2-inch trip computer display
- Reversing camera
- One-touch windows for all doors
- Six cupholders
- Trailer sway control and wiring harness connection
You don’t get rain sensing wipers, parking sensors, sat-nav, side steps or any more than one USB-A outlet. It does at least come with rubber mats.
There’s plenty of cost consciousness and trimmed fat as you’d expect in a cut-priced model, although the GX’s asking price hardly qualifies as ‘cut-priced’.
The 300 Series was tested by ANCAP in early 2022, receiving a rating of five stars for five of the six available variants, including the base GX.
Its rating was based on an adult occupant protection score of 89 per cent, child occupant protection of 88 per cent, pedestrian protection of 81 per cent and safety assist of 77 per cent.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian detection (day/night)
- Cyclist detection (day)
- Lane departure warning
- Brake-to-steer runoff mitigation
- Traffic sign recognition
Despite the full five-star ANCAP rating, that’s a pretty slim active safety fit-out.
There’s no active steering intervention as the steering system is old-school hydraulic. And you need to step up to the GXL and higher to get blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert, while Lane Trace Assist active centring is offered at mid-spec VX and above.
The LandCruiser has 10 airbags and dual ISOFIX anchor points in the second row of seating. Adaptive cruise control is standard, though no front or rear parking sensors are fitted.
In terms of dynamic and traction assistance, Active Traction Control, crawl control, downhill assist and hill-start assist are all standard features.
The GX is five-seat only. You need to step up to GXL for seven pews. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If you need seven-seat practicality, LC300’s not a great solution to begin with. For its upper-large size, the three-row format is cramped out back and, all things considered, not well packaged. Compare it with Hyundai’s Palisade or Kia’s Carnival and you’ll see what I mean…
Plenty of LandCruiser owners don’t need seven seats and aren’t carting around half a kiddie soccer team regularly. This means the big Toyota makes good sense as a fiver, with a larger (1131L) boot space than the seven-seater offers with its third row stowed (a still ample 1004L).
Climb in – careful, there are no sidesteps – and you’re greeted with a design more akin to the bridge of ship than a large on-road vehicle. Everything is big, chunky, angular and there’s strong sense of heft to the thing.
Controls and labelling are large, simple and easy to use, apart perhaps from the steering wheel array, which is a little unintuitive without some acclimatisation.
Shorter drivers might struggle to see the leading edge of the bonnet, which might cause make some drivers a bit timid with parking given the absence of front or rear sensors. Thankfully, the reversing camera has a large display of middling quality, though its guidelines aren’t adaptive.
Beyond that, the sense of the size of the thing is palpable. There a real bank vault surety to it and some comfort in the sense of safety that might bring. However, its size does demand your attention when venturing into places such as multi-story carparks.
The interior look, feel and execution is old-school. Many LandCruiser lovers will find this warmly familiar but it does, for a brand-spanker, look dated right out of the oven.
Case in point is the small 9.0-inch infotainment screen (VX and up get 12.3-inches) which in look and functionality is well behind the times now. Surely Toyota will bring a fresher format sometime in the next 14 years or so of this generation’s lifecycle.
The lack of proprietary sat-nav in an Australian-market LandCruiser is a huge oversight. Some Australians are faced with huge distances outside of mobile reception and sat-nav is not a luxury.
All of the observations about the workmanlike material choice we found in reviewing the GXL ring true here further down the range. Much of it is hardy, but little of it feels upmarket or fitting for a near six-figure vehicle.
There’s a phone pad (that’s inductive charging on higher-grade variants) and a deep oddment cubby above it for glasses and keys: but be careful or your personal effects will fly into the passenger’s side footwell, as I can personally attest…
There is nice quality cloth on the comfy ‘lounge-like’ seating, but outside of the rubber-spec mats is there really anything here more ‘Outback-fit’ than a RAV4 or Corolla. One notable exception is the rubber sealing, which seems hefty enough to hold the finest bull dust at bay through the door jambs.
On that – why is so much piano black in a device seemingly aimed at potentially dirty adventure.
There’s plenty of stowage space, with deep console bin space and fairly handy door bins with six cupholders. Single USB-A and USB-C ports smacks of cost-cutting (the seven-seat GXL gets five) and won’t please device-loving kids in row two, though dual-12-volt power in both rows and a 220V input ensure there’s ample auxiliary device power when you’re out in the sticks.
Row two does get air vents though, and accommodation is quite palatial and very airy in ambience. The lounge-like vibe of the rear bench is appealing, though the lack of slide or tilt adjustment is a bit of an oversight.
The seatbacks are 60:40 split-folding as they essentially carryover from the GXL seven-seater (for third-row access).
As previously mentioned the boot space is generous; however, the car loses its iconic split-folding tailgate: all LandCruisers now fit a more conventional liftback door design.
After ditching the much loved V8 in the LC200, the entire LC300 range has adopted a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel outputting 227kW at 4000rpm while producing 700Nm between 1600 and 2600rpm.
Despite downsizing, the new unit offers an added 27kW and 50Nm over the 1.2-litre larger engine it replaces.
Transmission is via a 10-speed automatic sent to permanent all-wheel drive with a centre differential lock as standard. There are no front or rear differentials, the torque shuffling instead solely distributed via the electronically-governed Active Traction Control, aka A-TRC.
Unlike higher-grade variants, the base GX doesn’t fit Multi-Terrain Select traction modes or the four-camera monitor system and it sits on passive suspension shod with steel wheels loaded with 245mm 17-inch rubber, the smallest of the LandCruiser line-up (everything else gets 265s on 18- or 20-inch rims). Larger 18-inch rims are available as an option.
Despite the GX’s slim-pickings in the off-road hardware department, ground clearance is a decent 235mm with 32-degree approach and 25-degree departure angles.
At 2495kg, the GX is the lightest and only LC300 under 2.5 tonnes in kerb weight. GVM is 3280kg while GCM is 6750kg. Braked towing is a fulsome 3500kg, with a typical 750kg rating unbraked.
Consumption is quoted at 8.9L/100km combined. During our test, the big Toyota rarely dipped below the 12-litre mark, well north of its urban claim of 11.3. So, (surprise, surprise) this 2.5t 4WD is thirsty.
It’s a good thing it has an 80-litre main tank and 30-litre sub-tank if you’re keen tackling long distances, particularly towing anything heavy.
Die-hards might rue the loss of the old 4.5-litre V8 but the new 3.3-litre six is a smarter and more contemporary solution. More output and efficiency: it’s a real win-win, despite protests the soundtrack isn’t quite what it used to be.
Paired with the new 10-speed auto, thrust is robust and impressively refined and there’s ample torque on tap to counter 2.5 tonnes of inertia.
That said, the jury is out on how the powertrain copes with a caravan in tow and the LandCruiser is loaded up with bodies, luggage or whatever other stuff you drag along for your adventure.
Where the new six-pot/ten-speed format ought to really shine is during more leisurely duty, particularly around town. And it’s good, if not completely rosy.
You see, this is the third LC300 I’ve driven. The last two low-kay examples were pillars of powertrain refinement. This example, with 8000kms on the clock and heading well towards its first scheduled service (more below), is somewhat grumpier.
Quiet on a constant throttle, the big six does get rattlier under load. No real gripes there – it’s much better than a good many oiler alternatives. The more obvious issue is the recalcitrance of the automatic transmission.
Self-shifts are slurry, its operation is far from seamless and at lower speed in lower ratios there are a fair few nudges and mild thuds.
A hard life on Toyota’s press fleet? Perhaps, but unlike a fine red, the transmission won’t get smoother with age. Ditto the brakes, that squeal loudly when they’re cold.
Hydraulic power steering is tried and trusty for such a go-anywhere device. Its assistance is fairly decent but it remains a little leaden against modern electric systems, if only really noticeable in lower-speed manoeuvring and parking.
It tracks and points like you’d expect a big jacked-up vehicle would and there’s a pleasingly leisurely manner to how it soaks up the kilometres, especially out on an open road.
Importantly, the LC300 adopts its most crucial role with aplomb: to feel like a rolling lounge room, regardless of whether you’re crossing the Nullarbor or lapping Australia from one caravan park to the next.
Lore has it that Australia offers Toyota 80 per cent of the conditions required to develop a device such as LandCruiser so it did develop it locally for a good number of years.
This really pays dividends when it comes to seemingly small but important details such as high-speed suspension compliance across Australia’s worst sealed and broken surfaces or keeping bull dust out of the cabin.
There’s certainly a purpose ‘built-for-Oz’ vibe the LandCruiser continues to deliver in its latest 300 guise.
That said, how ultimately capable the base GX is compared with other, more comprehensively-equipped variants is questionable.
The snorkel, the rubber mats: there’s promise that perhaps some of the specifications don’t quite back up.
As outlined above, there’s no axle diff-locking or rear mechanical LSD as offered elsewhere in range.
Crucially, there’s an absence of the Multi-Terrain Select functionality fitted to all other variants, leaving Active Traction Control as GX’s main off-roading ally, albeit via those 20mm narrower tyres than the rest of the range.
So the cheapest 300 series variant is certainly the least-endowed version across more challenging landscapes. The jury is out on exactly how well the base model can drag itself out of the properly brown stuff.
Presumably not quite as effectively as pricier versions fitted with increasingly more elaborate features under what Toyota titles “Off-Road Capabilities” on the LandCruiser’s official spec table.
The LandCruiser range is covered by Toyota’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with a conditional seven years on the engine and driveline.
Servicing is capped at $375 per visit for the first ten visits, which is good.
However, servicing is every six months or 10,000kms, whichever comes first, so your new LC300 is off the road twice a year for an annual servicing outlay of $750 – which isn’t quite so enticing.
The LandCruiser 300 Series is fast establishing itself as a ‘more of the same’ rather than a ‘revolution’ in Toyota’s big wagon lineage. The new powertrain is definitely fit for purpose but not quite as frugal and refined as expected.
The GX is a bit of a niche in the range. It’s arguably the least capable for multi-terrain duties. Also, its equipment fit-out makes it perhaps the least suitable as the family-friendly choice and it’s missing key gear otherwise well-suited for grander touring (sat-nav) and urban school runs (parking sensors).
Finally, its interior format isn’t necessarily any more ‘adventure friendly’ than most other Toyota models.
On evidence it perhaps is ideal for regional owners not too far into the sticks. Those who demand some lighter-duty off-road capabilities on farms or similar and who regularly need its fulsome 3.5-tonne towing capabilities.
There’s certainly enough of its target market out there in Oz, though it’s not the ideal LC300 for all-comers.
The GX doesn’t do anything badly, but it’s not a stretch to see that LC300 is a better well-rounded proposition when you get to mid-range VX grade. You will need another $24k to fill some of the base model’s equipment and feature holes.
Of course, as mentioned the topic of outlay and associated value in LandCruiser land is somewhat elastic right now…
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