Sometimes you have to load in a lot of stuff. It could be a large volume of stuff, or a big mass of stuff. Either way, the 2017 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series ute is made for it.
We wanted to find out just how well our 79 Series cab-chassis dealt with stuff, so we, er, stuffed it with a few different things.
First up was a pallet of ballast from our mates over at Crown Forklifts. We’ve had help from these guys in the past – including in our dual-cab ute test, where we saw a couple of the trucks struggle with the 750 kilograms of mass over their respective rear axles.
So, we wanted to yardstick the single-cab ‘Cruiser ute against those vehicles, with the same 750kg weight.
This time, the cab-chassis tray layout meant there was no concern about wheel-arch gaps, and the tie-down conundrum wasn’t as concerning, either: there are six retracting eyelets down the sides of the tray, making it easy to secure low loads.
If you were carting something that sat above the tray line, then you could go over the sides to the tie-down rails … more on that shortly.
So we stuck our pallet in, secured it, and the back end barely sagged, nor did the nose rise up as much as the dual-cabs we tested before. That’s to be expected, though, because the payload of this beast is higher: 1225kg, and it has a gross vehicle mass of 3400kg (that’s important to remember: again, we’ll get to why soon!).
With that weight in the back, the Toyota barely felt any effect. The 4.5-litre turbo diesel engine was completely untroubled by the mass. Like, literally; it was imperceptible that there was any work being done.
The gearbox exhibited the same characteristics we’d become used to: first gear being a little short, then third and fourth offering churning torque, enough to see the Toyota hustle from 50km/h to highway speed without question.
The suspension, too, managed to keep the occupants well insulated from bumps apart from the rear bouncing slightly over a set of sharp speed-humps. It steered virtually the same, too, without much of that tail-steer sensation you can notice in some utes.
Pictured above: With 750kg in the tray (top) and without (bottom)
So, we thought to ourselves, this wasn’t a big enough challenge. A measly three-quarters of a tonne was the sort of load some farmers would run around with all the time.
How about we double it?
That’s right. It wasn’t necessarily intentional. Our plan wasn’t to take the ‘Cruiser to the bush and put 1.5 tonnes of weight in the tray, overshooting the payload capacity by about 520kg as a result.
We have proof that it was that much over: we went to a weighbridge:
The aim was to get enough firewood for my father-in-law as we could in a four-hour sawing, stacking and shooting (photos) marathon. It just so happened that we came across a couple of good-sized fallen trees in a paddock, and we figured we’d take them back to the house.
Remember, the tray of this thing is about 2.6 metres long by 1.8m wide, meaning there’s a lot of space to fill – a lot more than a standard single-cab (most have 2.4m trays) not to mention a dual-cab (usually about 1.5m long).
So dear-old-dad-in-law Andy set us a challenge to fill the tray. Obviously we wouldn’t stack the load too high, but it had to be up to the edges of the tray, for the entire length. I figured that’d be pushing the payload limit. And the wood was pretty dense, the trees weren’t green, but they weren’t long fallen.
So he cut, I got some shots, and I stacked. We did this for a good three hours, or three tanksful of fuel in the Stihl saw, and eventually we filled the tray up. We tied off the load – not as easily as hoped, because there are some gaps in the rails, like behind the wheels where there’s a large gap, but eventually we got four ropes across.
Because it’s a Toyota LandCruiser, we didn’t just take the easy way out of the paddock: the next step was a quick telegraph track crawl in low-range, because if a ute has four-wheel-drive, it should be able to haul itself and a heavy load.
And it did, surprisingly easily. Admittedly, despite all the rain out near Cowra recently, the track was pretty dry, but parts of it had washed away, meaning there were a few tilt moments when the extra weight over the rear axle made its presence felt. But the fact it walked up in 4L, without the diffs locked for extra grip, goes to show what a workhorse weapon this thing really is.
Back on the road, and again the engine felt unfazed, all the way back into town, via the weighbridge. Third and fourth gears remained the strongest, but fifth wasn’t as much of a struggle as anticipated: it powered up a hill in high gear despite my left foot and left hand being prepared.
The brakes were a little hard lacking, as you’d expect with that much mass on board, but it still pulled up decently. And while the tyres were a little ballooned at the edges, the suspension again proved up to the task.
The whole experience lead me to conclude that the 2017 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series ute is, put simply, so good at doing stuff that it makes really hard stuff look really easy.
Click the Gallery tab above for more images by Sam Venn and Matt Campbell
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