Facelifted for 2016, the top of the Toyota 4WD pile remains the choice for serious off-road driving and long haul touring. It's not cheap, but its ability is unquestioned.
The 2016 Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series looks a lot like the model it replaces. That’s largely because it’s benefitted from a subtle facelift rather than a full redesign – when you’re onto a good thing stick with it.
It’s been a while since we’ve climbed into the cabin of a 200 Series. So, with some equipment changes on board, it’s time to get the all-conquering off-roader back in the CarAdvice garage to see whether it can still pass muster as Toyota’s flagship off-road warrior.
“Gee, 100 grand is a lot for a LandCruiser...” It wasn’t so long ago that we would hear fans of the brand mutter that to themselves when the first of the breed cracked the six-figure mark.
Well, the buy-in price on the sales graph has continued to climb, and in range-topping Sahara guise as tested here, the 200 Series starts from a whopping $118,500 plus on-road costs. It’s not cheap, but then again, you’re getting the very best that Toyota can muster in terms of off-road ability and all-round durability.
You can read about the exterior changes in our pricing and specification guide, but there are other highlights worth touching on again.
The twin-turbo diesel as tested here gets new injectors, revised mapping and a new particulate filter with added protection. The engine revisions result in a 5kW increase to 200kW in total along with a chunky 650Nm – unchanged from the previous model.
Toyota claims a 0.5L/100km improvement in the combined fuel consumption figure, down to 9.5L/100km on the ADR cycle. It’s a claim we couldn’t match in the real world (as expected) but we returned slightly further away from that figure than we would have liked – 13.2L/100km.
However, we did spend much of our time over the course of a week behind the wheel in heavy traffic around the CBD. Country drivers and those of you who spend longer periods on the open road will notice an improvement on that figure. Still, a figure in the low 13s for an SUV that weighs closer to 3000kg than 2000kg, and has the ability of the ‘Cruiser, remains impressive.
Under any circumstance, the twin-turbo oiler is a powerhouse. It gets the beastly LandCruiser up to speed effortlessly, with a bit of diesel noise, but just as much V8 growl. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can punt the 200 Series around if you feel like it, and it will hustle up to freeway speeds with the scant regard you’d expect of something propelled by 650Nm worth of torque.
There’s also comical amounts of roll-on acceleration on offer, if you need to drop back to 100km/h and squirt up to 115km/h to get around slow moving traffic on the highways and byways. The six-speed automatic simply drops back a gear or two and the 200 Series rockets forward with urge to spare.
LandCruisers have never been synonymous with spirited driving though, they are more about comfort for the long haul. Once again, the facelifted 2016 model carries that tradition on with ease. The 200 floats over anything you can throw at it on or off-road and never loses its sense of comfort in the cabin either. First, second or third row, it doesn’t matter where you’re seated, you’ll be in comfort for the duration of the drive.
Ploughing over the scourge of the CBD – raised traffic islands with their sharp edges – is no match for the Cruiser’s supple suspension either and despite its external dimensions, the 200 Series actually does the daily driver, city SUV thing well.
Off sealed surfaces, the LandCruiser continues it’s effortless progress. Really rough off-roading is dispatched easily thanks to proper low range gearing, excellent traction, suspension that works through a wide range of travel and the torque nature of the twin-turbo diesel V8.
Once upon a time, LandCruisers were the only vehicle serious parties took into the most remote areas in Australia in large numbers, apart from the Nissan Patrol. The Prado might have taken that mantle now, perhaps largely because it is more affordable than the 200 Series, but the LandCruiser is as tough and capable as it ever was.
Heavy sand, mud, water crossings, rock, dusty trails, the Cruiser takes everything in its stride without raising a sweat. Heavy sand, the bane of many a 4WD, is particularly easy in the 200 Series, bolstering its off-road credentials. In fact, the Cruiser’s only off-road shortcoming is it’s physical size – it’s big enough that you can struggle on really tight off-road tracks and you need to be careful manoeuvring it around.
You’ll never get sick of riding the solid wave of torque generated by the V8 engine, no matter what sort of terrain you’re conquering. The V8 engine – on road or off – makes such a strong case, we can’t recommend that anyone buy the petrol engine. Some people do, but you’d be mad to opt for anything other than the diesel at this end of the spectrum. Even at our 13.2L/100km return, the 138-litre tank translates to a theoretical 1000km range (with 45km in reserve).
Inside, our Sahara is equipped with the beige leather interior option, which affords an air of class, but also looks like it will mark very easily. If you’re doing any serious touring, or ferrying young kids around, opt for the grey leather on your Sahara.
Colour choice aside, the cabin is as expansive as you’d expect. Firstly, the Sahara is a proper eight-seat SUV, with room in the third row for adults. While the third row is impressive, it could be even bigger given it's only a little roomier than the Kia Sorento we've tested recently. The second row is even more spacious, with ample room for three across, thanks to the width of the 200 Series cabin. There’s even a little bit of luggage room left over with the third row employed, a factor most three-row SUVs can’t match.
The cabin has numerous upgraded features like a wireless smartphone charger (if your phone will support it), multi-terrain monitor, a cool box, heated front and second row seats, ventilated front seats, active head rests and heated exterior rear view mirrors. The screens mounted into the backs of the two front seats will also keep younger back seat passengers entertained on long journeys.
We also liked the all-new visibility system, which uses cameras mounted front, rear and in the side mirrors to offer an all-round view of the vehicle as you’re parking. Toyota says it’s also a handy feature off-road, although we didn’t test the system extensively enough to back that claim up.
The Toyota Link system works via a nicely positioned nine-inch touchscreen that is an improvement on the previous model. It’s easy to understand, easy to use, and fast to respond. As you’d expect, satellite-navigation is the main feature that is most noticeably improved by a larger, clearer screen and it adds a more technically up to date feel to the LandCruiser’s cabin.
Sadly, the 200 Series doesn't get the even better system we've tested in HiLux and Fortuner and it would definitely benefit from that. Another minor factor annoyed us too. You can't control the fan speed via a traditional button or rotary dial. It can only be done via the touchscreen and can be annoying because of it.
We’ve previously scored the 200 Series a 7 overall and this facelifted version moves up half a point to 7.5 overall. It does everything an upper large SUV needs to do and it does it well. If you had the budget and you wanted to ‘do the loop’ it’s the most sensible vehicle you could take.
More so if you’re going to tow a trailer or do any serious off-roading, given you can tow 3500kg without issue.
The 200 Series LandCruiser still feels big, heavy and lumbering but the LandCruiser has never been about dynamic ability. It’s always been the consummate all-rounder, the go anywhere 4WD that is easy enough to live with every day, but tough enough to tackle the nastiest terrain. There’s no doubt it’s still deserving of that description.