2017 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series offroad review
The LC79 is no corner carver, more a chainsaw than a scalpel. Let’s start with the good, which is visibility. As the car is so old you sit high with an upright windscreen and small A-pillars, so you can see everything. Stepping into something like my Ranger after an LC70 drive feels like you’re in a snug racecar.
The LC79’s traction is also surprisingly good, even in the wet. I think that’s because of the lazy-revving engine with low-down torque, so I drove it relying on the torque in higher gears rather than using lots of revs. It is possible to drive quickly but you do need to work for it both with the handling and use of the engine which is very much for load lugging not revving.
That’s it for onroad goodness. On the negative side – the engine is noisy, as are the gears especially in lower ratios. With the taller 5th gear you’re now at 2000rpm at 100km/h, which is still at least 300rpm too high and you do miss a sixth gear. There’s lots of wind noise. Directional stability is not great. The turning circle is a huge 14.4m and the steering is slow. The steering is reach and tilt adjustable, but many drivers find their knees uncomfortably close to the steering column which is at least height/reach adjustable. The wing mirrors are not electric and jiggle a bit.
The cruise control does work well, and I had to smile when I saw it’s the same switch as fitted in the Lexus RC F. Parts sharing extends beyond the headunit!
The engine works well from about 700rpm which is good, but just converts diesel to noise above 3000rpm and to the 4500rpm redline, so you’re better off swapping cogs before 2500rpm. First gear is so low it’s not worth using to pull away unloaded, just start in second and use the long-throw, slow gearshift to jump directly to fourth. At least with skip-shifting you don’t need many gear changes.
I daily-drove the 79 in traffic for a while and thought it was livable, not my first choice but you could do it. Just drive to the strengths of the car – torque, visibility – and it’s all good.
The 79 is pretty good on dirt roads. It’s not a sharp handler or anything like a rally car, but it rides quite well and doesn’t hurt for traction once it’s in 4WD. When the electronics do come in they come in late and help not hinder in typical modern Toyota fashion, so if they get really busy then you’re doing something wrong. The suspension is quite well suited for the rougher dirt roads, it’s a better ride than some IFS 4X4s thanks to the ability of the front end to flex.