2017 Toyota 70 Series LandCruiser review
Mark Allen’s 2017 Toyota 70 Series LandCruiser review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Toyota 70 Series LandCruiser has been refreshed with the single-cab variants achieving a five-star ANCAP rating. It’s a proper, fit-for-purpose 4×4.
Price From $60,990+ORC Warranty three years, 100,000km Service Interval 10,000km Safety five-star ANCAP for single-cab variant only Engine 4.5-litre turbocharged V8 diesel Power 151kW at 3400rpm Torque 430Nm at 1200-3200rpm Transmission five-speed manual Drive part-time 4WD Body 5220mm (long); from 1790mm (width); from 1970mm (height) – single-cab WorkMate Angles 35-degrees (approach); 29-degrees (departure) – single-cab WorkMate Turning Circle 12.6-14.4m depending on model Weight 2180kg GVM 3400kg GCM 6900kg Towing 3500kg Towball Download not listed Spare steel full-size (single-cab WorkMate) Fuel Tank 130 litres Thirst 10.7L/100km
THE TOYOTA 70 SERIES LANDCRUISER remains unapologetically biased towards light truck styling, exuding rugged ‘go anywhere-ness’ and tough workhorse ability. That said, it has succumbed to 21st century technology in both safety and cleanliness.
What is it?
This latest evolution of the 70 Series boasts enough refinement and in-cabin creature comforts for those who find themselves in a ‘man’s 4×4’ while wearing a tie and polished boots. Yep, the perfect ride for picking up the fairer sex… after it’s been hosed out of course!
Where once, the old workhorse Cruiser ate with the dirty-pawed diesel mechanics, the dust-encrusted tradies and sunbaked outback musterers; this latest pillar of the outback 4×4 community is just as much, if not more so, at home with adventurous families looking at tackling all manner of fun-filled offroad tracks, grey nomads hauling caravans and ‘doing the big lap’, plus of course, the same old gang of rough and tumble workers as well as maintaining its presence in the cruel-to-machinery mining industry; provided the mining gangs don’t want more than two doors and a tray, but we’ll get to that shortly.
Toyota makes no apologies for producing, what is unarguably, a heavy duty truck-like 4×4 – nor should they! They are the last of a fast dying breed; the Nissan Patrol and Land Rover Defender, being the closest competition have both been given their marching orders predominantly due to the inability to keep in line with the latest emissions controls and safety ratings, although my bet would be if they really wanted to keep them alive, they could! And, that’s where Toyota must be praised at being able to keep what really is a dinosaur-era vehicle alive and kicking… so long as you don’t want more than two doors and a tray with that 5 Star ANCAP rating.
What Toyota should not be praised for is that often-criticized huge difference in wheel track from front to rear. A 95mm narrower rear track on most models and up to a huge 135mm on the 76 wagon really doesn’t belong on a 4×4 that claims to be King off the road; especially in sand and other soft surfaces where the rear end tries to track from side to side while trying to follow the front wheel tracks. Fair enough, the front was made wider to fit the 4.5 litre V8, but surely Toyota could mass produce a corrected axle width. There are plenty of aftermarket manufacturers that have come up with a rear track rectification, so why, oh why can’t Toyota do it?
Thumbs up for not changing the wheel stud pattern again! Casting your minds back well over a decade, when Toyota upset every ‘Cruiser owner in the world by changing the wheel studs from 6 to 5. Toyota claimed it enabled an improved strength design; but try explaining that to the owners of millions of 6-stud rims laying around farm paddocks in rural Australia. To add insult to those that hate change; Toyota have now binned the mighty 5.5 inch split rim and tubed tyre combo that has seen service for decades. In place is a new wider steel single piece rim at 6 inches with a 225/95R16 tubeless tyre replacing the 750R16 tubed version. I for one think that’s a good move for safety and, given improved tyre technology these days, there is no need or reason to run inner tubes as ‘safety rims’, which is simply a one-piece rim, with a tubeless tyre that will run cooler and last longer. Some mines also negate use of vehicles with split rims when operating in hazardess conditions sighting potential sparks from split rim failures. Rare, unlucky, but a reality; so being able to sell a vehicle to mines means abiding by their rules.
What’s the interior like?
Inside, while things seemingly haven’t changed all that much; the seats have been upgraded which, as well as for improved comfort also aid in overall ANCAP rating scores, as does the mounting method to the revised sections of the floor pan.
A double DIN stereo unit sits central in the dash and as a separate piece, a new digital clock is mounted just above. Something I’m sure thousands of previous LC70 owners don’t know is that there is in fact a code that can be performed to get the time to show on the older standard stereo unit.
Age old air conditioner (if you’ve ticked that option box) and fan controls have been retained, as has the electronic antenna control, single cup holder and four dash mounted air outlets. A great sigh of relief is the retention of the manual shifting four-wheel drive gearstick selector – I think there would have been a revolt had Toyota changed to an electronic 4×4 actuation.
The right-hand stalk sees the newly added cruise control, plus to the right of the steering wheel sees the dash-mounted manual regeneration button for the DPF filter. Another nice touch to a work vehicle is telescopic steering column, while the previous tilt steering function remains the same.
I’m afraid there still is, and never will be a re-introduction of a grab bar for the passenger – unfortunately ANCAP discourage such protrusions from the dash and it would sit right in front of the passengers airbag. It is comforting to know that there is still plenty of head room for the mighty Akubra to be worn by both driver and passengers of all LC70 variants.
Rear cargo accommodation is huge in the Troopcarrier, medium in the 76 four door wagon and limited to behind the second row of seats in the dual cab, although you have a whole tray to store gear in with this variant.
Given we are dealing with a commercial style 4×4, it is surprising the decent ride and sound quality of the larger open space of the Troopcarrier, right through the range down to the smaller cabined single cab.
What’s it like on the road?
Complementing the increased rigidity of the chassis, suspension changes were needed to ensure ride quality was upheld. Suspension fine tuning is now easier via less flexing of the stiffer chassis, and given Australians propensity to upgrade springs and shocks, there will have to be a totally separate line for the two door ute compared to all other variants. A positive byproduct of the improved chassis is the increase payload, now up to 1200kg. This will go down well with all users from mine sites, farmers who can chuck an extra half dozen bales on, tourers that can now lug the kitchen sink on their travels as well as caravan and fifth wheel lovers who can opt for an even larger home on wheels, although a maximum tow rating of 3500kg still stands.
We are also all for the cleaner emissions of this latest 70 Series Land Cruiser with its 4.5 litre intercooled, turbo V8 diesel gaining a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter), but let’s hope it doesn’t have detrimental side effects and cause premature engine or component failure, especially given the astronomical cost of repairs and replacement parts. Noting that DPF filters need to be cleaned from time to time (Toyota Australia advise 500 to 600km for this ‘Cruiser depending on exact driving conditions), via higher temperatures burning off the trapped particulates while on longer drives.
As standard, these burn offs will happen automatically given high enough running temperatures, however the 70 Series features a manual engagement system to force that burn off / cleaning regeneration of the filter. Hypothetically, let’s presume a new mining issue 70 Series doesn’t get driven long enough to allow an auto DPF burn and the driver / operator doesn’t adhere to the manual burn guidelines as per doing what the dash-mounted warning lights tell them to do. The warning gets ignored, then ignored some more and hey presto the filter becomes too blocked to allow normal vehicle operation and the vehicle needs to be sent to a Toyota service center or the mines mechanical yard for a filter removal and replacement. I’m betting there will be some new boxes to tick on the driver’s checklist when these vehicles start seeing run time on mine sites!
For those familiar with the existing catalytic converter on a 70 Series, the new DPF replaces the old Cat and sits above and rearward of a newly introduced chassis cross member which serves as protection from ground strike.
Another huge tick and often begged-for change is with the introduction of a taller ratio of top gear (5th) by 15%. With Practical Motoring’s initial test drive, this equated to a reduction in revs at 110km/h at 2600rpm (of the outgoing model) down to a more relaxed 2200rpm and just 2000rpm at 100km/h. This should go well for improved fuel consumption during highway cruising.
Our drive also returned improved in-cabin noise reductions and harshness with the lower engine speeds. Second gear was also given a 7 percent taller ratio and while that may go well with some, I’ll wager there’ll be plenty of Cockys stalling their new ‘Cruisers in the paddocks when attempting second gear take-offs with heavy loads. That, or there’ll be the smell of burning clutches across the country as drivers attempt incorrect gear take offs from suburban intersections. Using the gears as intended shouldn’t see a problem though and I found the new box to be a smooth and easy shifter. And, no… there is still no automatic gearbox in sight for any 70 Series LandCruiser!
The throttle pedal is also perfectly matched for both on and offroad use. The continual bumping and shaking of driving through a paddock does not see your foot inadvertently pumping the electronically controlled accelerator, which provides a more relaxed drive.
Other attempts at improving fuel consumption come via new Piezo electronic injectors. While Toyota claims figures of 10.7L/100km, I’ll believe that when I achieve it for myself. CO2 emissions are now down to 281grams/km. Cruise control is also standard across the range, so long distance driving should be easier and perhaps more efficient.
While the Troop Carrier retains twin 90 litre fuel tanks (180 litres in total), all other variants only get a single 130 litre tank.
More ticks come via the front and rear electro-mechanical diff locks, albeit at a $1500 optional extra. These cross axle lockers back up a newly introduced A-TRC (Active Traction Control) system which replaces the rear limited slip diff and is automatically adjusted for use in H2, H4 and L4 ranges. Our initial testing on a steep, rutted low range hill climb proved the A-TRC does work… to an extent. Rotating the locker dial to the left of the steering wheel to select either rear locker or both front and rear lockers will get you out of most off-road situations. If not, you’d be in a lot of strife and need a winch or external help!
An included addition with the electronic braking system is HAC (Hill Assist Control) whereby the brakes will hold the vehicle on an uphill slope for about two seconds to allow an easy and smooth takeoff. Dabbing the foot brake will add additional two second intervals if required. The system does not work on downhill slopes – not that your normally need it… unless you need to reverse uphill from a standing start!
In what is a (potential) good move; although sure to ruffle plenty of traditionalists’ feathers is the adopting of Nissan Patrol style hubs that are automatically engaged but also has a manual lock mode in place of the previous, long standing manual locking versions. In normal driving you’d have the hubs in automatic, so the 70 would be in 2WD on surfaces like bitumen, and then you can just switch to 4X4 and the hubs engage, no need to manually switch them over, or drive around in 2WD with the hubs locked.
There is also a locked position for the hub which needs the wheel brace to manually engage via the nut in the center of the hub – again the same as Nissan’s hub system. This ‘manual’ position prevents the hubs from ‘accidentally’ disengaging during backward-and-forwarding in 4×4… again the same problem older 4X4s such as the Patrol and Pajeros had. All up a good change as you get benefit of free-wheeling hubs and 4X4 without any manual changes, but won’t be accepted by many even though the there’s a manual lock mode. One disadvantage is that you can no longer engage low range wihtout 4X4 which was always handy for jobs like backing heavy trailers.
Another long standing gripe is the standard two-piece snorkel. While Toyota have always claimed it is a ‘raised air intake’ for cleaner and cooler air, not a dedicated snorkel for deep water wading, many folk change it for a one-piece design. A one piece option would certainly negate water ingress into the air cleaner box and ultimately into the engine. Having said that; Toyota claims a good 700mm wading depth as standard.
Service intervals remain at 10,000km and Toyota has set capped servicing at $340.00 per service.
And, finally the bad news; as per all new Toyota offerings, there is a price hike of $5500.00 for the single cab (mainly due to the chassis and ANCAP improvements) and $3000.00 for all other variants. Add to that, the hide of Toyota still not having air conditioning as standard fitment and opening their hands for an additional $2761.00! As if many people would say no to air conditioning these days!
How safe is it?
On the safety front, we here at Practical Motoring are all for high ANCAP ratings and praise must go to Toyota for gaining a 5-Star for the two door, single cab 70 Series, but what about the four door dual cabs, four door wagons and Troopcarriers – they all miss out! I guess getting the utes into mines is a higher priority than protecting the recreational base users as mine sites are where the majority of sales go.
There have been more changes made by Toyota than initially suspected to get the two door ute variants the 5 star tick. Sure there are the extra three air bags (two curtain and drivers knee) making five in total, but the unseen mechanics and engineering of the complete chassis and integrated suspension and steering components make the two door variant a unique vehicle.
The chassis material has been upgraded to a 980 Mpa rated (a rating of hardness) ultra-high tensile steel. The larger cross section, thicker walls and wider spacing of left and right rails of the chassis round out what is now an extremely solid and rigid superstructure onto which the single cab body is perched. Chassis of all other variants remain as per the outgoing models and having the two side by side makes the up-rated version seem enormous. Even the steering box has been rotated on the new chassis, while the Pitman and other steering arms have been repositioned to suit, to enable less forward protruding mechanical hardware, which in turn gains much needed points towards maximum ANCAP ratings.
The wider spaced chassis rails presented another engineering problem of fitting the front control arms from the standard (narrower) fitting points to the new (wider) chassis mounts. Instead of designing a new front axle with wider mounts, Toyota have gone with a shallow ‘S’ shaped control arm that mounts as per the front caster bush on the front axle and curves out and around a newly introduced cross member, onto a rear eye bush at the chassis.
The final change needed to achieve the much wanted and needed ANCAP ratings was for pedestrian safety, which was by way of the major visual difference to the body – the bonnet power bulge which has been included across the range. While the actual letter box opening for air flow to the top mount intercooler remains the same size (with added vertical stiffening) the whole bulge is higher and more pronounced. There are no (major) changes under the bonnet that necessitates the larger bulge (larger intercooler for example), it’s simply to provide increased pedestrian safety should someone be unlucky enough to come into contact with the 70 Series bonnet… after they been clouted with a bullbar!
Given a full complement of electronic safety devises – vehicle stability control (VSC), active traction control (A-TRC), hill-start assist control (HAC), brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution in addition to the existing anti-skid brakes, cruise control, as well as seat belt pre-tensioners, revised bucket seats and under dash padding, this new 70 Series Land Cruiser represents the latest in technology and proof that anything is possible if you set your mind (and money) to it. That is said in reflection to the end of other non-safety and non- Euro 5 compliant brands of 4×4 and the general thoughts that Toyota would kill off the quintessential offroad workhorse.
WHAT’S NEW IN LANDCRUISER 70 SERIES
- 100,000km of local testing
- Safety electronics with extensive local tuning:
- vehicle stability control
- active traction control
- hill-start assist control
- brake assist
- electronic brake-force distribution
- Cruise control
- Euro 5-compliant engine
- Piezo injectors
- Diesel particulate filter (auto regen plus manual switch)
- Fuel economy 10.7 litres/100km, improved by up to 1.2 litres/100km
- CO2 emissions of 281 grams/km, improved by up to 32 grams/km
- Taller manual gearbox ratios in second and fifth gears
- Other improvements
- Auto-locking front hubs (with manual “lock” option)
- Fuse box and fused battery terminal
- Front seatbelt pre-tensioners
- Front-passenger seatbelt warning
- New steel and alloy tray options (cab-chassis variants)
- Engineered to achieve 5-star ANCAP safety rating
- Thicker, stronger, more rigid frame – side rails, additional cross-member (7)
- Improved safety, handling and stability, and reduced NVH
- Three additional airbags (total of five) – curtain-shield (two) and driver’s knee (one)
- Under-dash padding for front-seat passenger
- New seats (frame, mounting points, coverings)
- New body panels, including taller bonnet
- New locally developed chassis calibration
- Steering link relocated behind the front axle
- Single 130-litre fuel tank
WORKMATE (all body styles), GXL TROOP CARRIER
- Wider, single-piece 6Jx16 steel wheels
- Wider tubeless 225/95 16C tyres