The LandCruiser 200 makes the most sense in GXL specification as tested here. It's still not cheap but it's an incredibly capable, seemingly bulletproof off-roader.
There is no planet on which the price of the 2016 Land Cruiser 200 – in any specification grade – would be cheap. It wouldn’t matter how far from earth (or reality) you wandered, it’s a bloody expensive full-size 4WD.
Many have argued that Toyota might in fact be taking the piss, to use a great Australianism, with its pricing placement of the flagship off-road weapon. Scratch a little below the surface though, and the ownership proposition of the 200-Series isn’t quite as fanciful as you might think.
That’s certainly the case with the GXL specification we are testing here. While you could certainly argue the Sahara, which starts from just under 121 grand, is a lot of folding stuff for a high-end 4WD most owners will never take off-road, the GXL makes a lot more sense if you’re taking ‘the big trip’.
Sure, there are just as capable off-roaders available that seem, on the surface at least, to be better value for money. You can have a highly-specced Range Rover Sport or fully-loaded Land Rover Discovery for numbers that match the asking price of the range-topping LC200 Sahara, for example. I have great regard for both products too, but I know what I’d be choosing if I was going to tow a van around our continent or head too far into any remote areas. It would be the ’Cruiser and, to be honest, it would almost certainly be this GXL specification.
So, what does a one-step up from entry-level diesel LandCruiser 200 cost? Our test GXL diesel has no options and is thus priced from $88,460 plus on-road costs.
The 200’s focal point sits under the bonnet in the form of a thumping 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 engine, which generates 200kW and 650Nm. The ADR fuel claim is an impressive 9.5L/100km, but you won’t be able to see that on the display… because there isn’t one.
Nearly everyone buys a GXL diesel when it comes to the 200, and with a 138-litre fuel tank as well as reasonable fuel efficiency for such a capable 4WD, that’s no surprise.
The diesel range starts from just under 78 grand, but if you take a look at the video Paul and I shot a while back, the GX doesn’t even get carpet on the floors! Yep, like we said, that’s a lot of moolah for a pretty basic 4WD. What do we mean by basic? Let’s start with the interior shall we…
The way I see it, the 2016 Toyota LandCruiser is the Coldplay of the motoring world. Work with me here, and if you’re a Coldplay fan, I feel desperately sorry for you. No, I really do.
Back to my explanation of why the 200 is like Coldplay. Not that appealing on face value, a little boring and monotonous, annoying lead singer, nondescript band members, bland musicianship and lyrics and yet – here comes the kicker – plays to sold out stadiums and rave reviews around the world.
The 200 is most defined by its interior – bland, boring, harking back to another era and not especially endowed with standout features. It is however, comfortable, enormously spacious and durable – everything the typical Aussie off-roader covets.
Referencing my earlier dig, there isn’t even a tripmeter, so we needed to go back to the old ‘brimming the tank to the top for a visual reference fuel measuring process’. Yep it’s a mouthful, but it’s also a foolproof way of measuring fuel use.
The big ‘Cruiser slurped through 11.9L/100km over our week behind the wheel, close enough to the claim and genuinely impressive for a heavyweight off-roader.
While we’ve heard anecdotal evidence that towing a large caravan can see the diesel chew through nearly as much fuel per 100 kilometres as the petrol engine, around town and for most driving scenarios, the diesel will prove to be the more efficient option. Such is the effortless grunt of the V8 oiler, it’s the engine we prefer in terms of driving engagement, too.
Standard kit across the 200 range includes seating for eight – proper seating, at that – seven airbags, ESC, active traction control, multi-terrain ABS, hill-start assist, trailer sway control, an emergency brake signal, and tilt/telescopic steering wheel adjustment.
Additional standard inclusion highlights if you opt for the GXL grade include: roof rails, LED low-beam headlights with static auto levelling, LED clearance lights, a leather-accented steering wheel and shift knob, a revised analogue instrument cluster and variable intermittent wipers for the front and rear screen.
The GXL also gets 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone front climate control AC, a rear cooler, aluminium side steps, two 12-volt power sockets, a 220-volt rear power point, horizontal split tailgate, smart entry and keyless start, rear-view camera, satellite navigation, privacy glass and body coloured external mirrors.
The interior is never going to win any awards for setting new standards of innovation or technological advancement, that much is obvious the minute you climb in. Grey velour, drab plastics, and a void of anything resembling luxury, the ’Cruiser’s command centre is best described as ‘workmanlike’.
What is immediately evident is the exceptional view forward and rearward, the amount of room on offer across all three rows of seating, and the commanding feeling you have from behind the wheel of the road ahead.
The satellite navigation and infotainment systems work well enough, but they retain an old world, previous generation, aftermarket feel to them.
The Bluetooth system is easy to set up and clear once connected, but the whole system feels like an afterthought, as if Toyota tossed it into the mix at the end of the build process. That’s true across most Toyotas though, so the 200 isn’t on its own in that regard.
The GXL misses out on steering wheel controls as well. Where the infotainment and lack of controls jars is in relation to the rest of the dashboard and console, which feels hefty, well designed and of high quality.
The second and third rows are comfortable enough for adults. Three across the second row, while two adults and a child will fit comfortably across the third row.
As you’d expect of such a physically large 4WD, the 200 is a more than capable people mover when called into action. Likewise, if you have two children, fold the third row out of the way and there’s a huge amount of storage space.
While the ’Cruiser’s domain is unquestionably the open plains of the vast Australian continent, it is surprisingly easy to muscle around town. Surprising too, how comfortable it seems when tasked with such mundane routine.
As is Toyota’s wont, the urban ride is lush, such that the 200 simply wafts over any surface, no matter how nasty. The counterpoint is a bit of wallow if you really push it, but let’s face it, if you’re giving the ’Cruiser a workout, you probably purchased the wrong 4WD.
It’s a genuinely comfortable vehicle in the way SUVs should be and even sharply angled traffic platforms are no match for the LandCruiser’s supple suspension. We unanimously like the steering around town especially how light it feels at low speed, and while you’re never fooled into thinking the 200 is small, it’s a lot easier to position in tighter confines than you might expect.
The engine is a revelation and a stark reminder that the current trend of downsizing isn’t always the smartest way to go. The big diesel V8 tackles every kind of driving task so easily, and is so unstressed, it’s always working within the power and torque sweet spot to assist in delivering the real world efficiency that it is theoretically capable of.
Throttle response is sharp, off-idle power delivery (peak torque is available from 1600rpm) is impressive and the kick in the chest you get right through the mid-range, means you can crank the 2.7-tonne LandCruiser up to highway speed quickly and easily.
The six-speed automatic is an excellent transmission and as we’ve seen countless times, either loading the cabin to the hilt, or attaching a trailer behind the LandCruiser makes no discernible difference to the effortless nature of its performance.
While the LandCruiser 200 GXL isn’t as technologically up-to-date or well-equipped as some of its competition around that 100k mark, it remains a rock solid, tough as nails, capable off-roader that will tackle anything you throw at it.
You could argue that 89 grand is a lot of money to spend on an engine and 4WD system, but you could also argue that the LandCruiser’s capabilities and the ridiculous ease with which it can conquer anything, make it real value for money.