Robert Pepper’s 2017 Toyota LandCruiser LC79 Dual Cab GXL Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The LandCruiser 79 Series remains the benchmark heavy-duty offroad ute which turns simplicity into a virtue, but at a price.

2017 Toyota LandCruiser LC79 Dual Cab GXL

Pricing $68,990 plus onroad costs Warranty three-years, 100,000 kilometres Safety Unrated (single cab only 5 star rating for 2015) Engine 4.5 litre V8 turbo-diesel Power 151kW at 3400rpm Torque 430Nm at 1200rpm Transmission five-speed manual Drive part-time 4X4, low range, front and rear locking differentials Dimensions 5230mm (L); 1870mm (W); 1955mm (H) Ground clearance 232mm Approach/ramp/departure angles 33 / not available / 27 degrees Wading 700mm Seats five Turning circle 14.4m Tare weight 2175kg GVM 3300kg Fuel Tank 130 litres Thirst 10.7L/100km Fuel diesel Towing 3500kg braked, 350kg TBM, 750kg unbraked GCM 6800kg Spare full-size alloy underslung

The LC79 is supplied as a cab chassis with optional tray. Some specifications such as tare weight and length, and the price will depend on options taken. Our test vehicle came with options which are priced below.

PEOPLE WHO READ THIS article will be one of two types; those that know what an LC79 is and either love it or hate it, and those that think we’re writing some sort of historic vehicle restoration feature disguised as a new car test.

If you are the first type of reader then this review is not for you. Your mind is probably made up about the 79 already, but either way you should read our full off-road review of the 79 at Practical Motoring 4X4.

If you are the second type of reader then you may well be interested in learning about an unusual vehicle, still sold new today, that has capabilities which have earned it a small but loyal group of followers – not least in small settlements where you see more red dust than bitumen. 

This strange beast that looks like it was styled in 1970 is the Toyota 70 Series, a generic name for the line which traces its lineage directly from the earliest 4X4s back in the 1950s, although it became a model derivation of its own from 1984.  

The wagon version of the 70 Series is the LC79, the infamous Troop Carrier (aka Troopy) is the LC78, and the ute in both single and dualcab form is the LC79. Our tester is the LC79 dual-cab ute, and while our example was near-new that was only the manufacture, not the design.

Stepping into the LC79 is like stepping to a time machine. Just about everything you take for granted isn’t there. The seats are barely adjustable and the interior:

is not even 2000s (as you can see in the image above), it’s more like 1990s at best. As you may expect, handling performance, economy and convenience are a long, long way below par. The windows are electric, but the mirrors aren’t, there’s one rather miserable interior light, no split-cycle heat/cool systems, sliders instead of buttons for ventilation and even air-conditioning is an option. Safety and handling are as poor as you’d expect, although the single-cab 79 has a 5-star ANCAP rating…just, and only to appease the mining industry. And the tested with various options, our vehicle is $78,399 plus onroads. Yes, way more than a top-end Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

The story doesn’t improve when you start moving. As a normal car onroad it’s way, way behind the times. The long-stroke diesel is slow to rev, despite a recently taller 5th gear you wish for a sixth, and it’s a long, slow throw between gears. Comfort is low, noise is high, turning circle is huge and directional stability leaves something to be desired.

Yet it’s fun, engaging, more so than modern 4x4s. You select 4×4 or low range with a real lever, making cogs interlock with other cogs, not the button-press found in modern 4x4s.

You can hear the gears whine, the clutch engage, and you need to be careful with inputs to get the best out of the vehicle.

Off-road, you’d expect the LC79 to shine. Well, it glows brightly. There’s low range, and twin cross-axle differential locks will see it crawl over really tough, wheels-in-the-air terrain where other vehicles have to resort to risky momentum. But the massive, underslung rear leaf springs are prone to hanging up, it’s long and not very manoeuvrable, and while Toyota have added electronic traction control in this latest variant the design is nowhere near their usual market-leading best.

The LC79 is good off-road, but most if not all owners will modify the vehicle before it leaves the showroom to make it even better. Like this one:

You may wonder why this car still exists. After all, how many Corollas would Toyota sell if it had basically stopped development in 1980? Perhaps the answer is retro-chic cool. You know, like Toyota’s more recent but now discontinued FJ Cruiser, the Minis, Fiat 500s and the like. A hipsterish throwback, irony on four wheels sort of thing. Nope. Not even close.

I’m sure such buyers exist, but I’ve not known anyone buy a 70 for looks or character alone. It’s not even the choice of hardcore 4×4 enthusiasts either, who are more likely to build their dream offroader from a Nissan Patrol or Jeep Wrangler. 

Simply, the LC70 sells to people that want tough, reliable bush transportation for recreation or work. These people prize reliability above all else, and reliability comes from a heavy-duty chassis and drivetrain, and maximum simplicity, which for owners is a virtue not vice. As such, the vehicle has a determined following amongst naturalists, adventure tour operators, travellers, photographers and others who need to carry lots of gear in and out of the rough, and it is the 4×4 of choice in the Outback.

The LC70’s basic design means it is modifiable too; different bodies, trays and accessories, you can customise the vehicle to your exact needs. And it’s heavy duty, better able to handle big, heavy loads than any of the newer, flashier “lifestyle” utes. 

The LC70 owner is very likely to either not care about split-cycle aircon, and often views the vehicle as a base for a build. You can buy an LC70 and drop another $20,000 on high-clearance portal axles, $10,000 on a six-speed automatic, more money on widening the rear track to match the front, several thousand on seats and so on. It doesn’t take much to reach $100,000 and that’s before the standard 4X4 accessories of bullbar, canopy, winch and so on. At least the LC70s come with a snorkel.

If you asked the average Aussie 4×4 expert what the most reliable and heavy-duty 4×4 on sale in Australia is today most of them would say that’s the LC70. It may look and feel old, but its many loyalists are happy to pay a premium price for reliable capability. Despite marketing claims, there’s nothing else quite like it on the market. 

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