As we made clear in our load-lugging piece on the 2017 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series ute, the thing is a beast when it comes to getting away from the blacktop.
I mean, consider this: 70 per cent of these hardcore Toyota trucks are sold in regional areas, and the real percentage of regional users is probably higher than that, because farmers, miners and other customers might have a particular city dealer that they’ve remained loyal to for a while.
LandCruiser models are built to deal with the worst imaginable terrain, and it’s not just the hardcore hardware that signals the intent: there are brilliant little things like the electrically-controlled aerial with a height adjustment toggle that means you won’t get the radio receptacle snapped by low-hanging trees in the greenery.
The V8 engine again came into its own, both in high and low range, with effortless power available no matter the terrain. And as I stated in a previous report, the steering – while yuck around town – is considerably better off-road. The weighting and feel through the wheel is top-notch, and in 4WD you get a little extra weight to play with in that respect.
But still we found out the hard way that sometimes driving around puddles is better than attempting to drive through them.
Trent and I were up in the Blue Mountains attempting to get some high quality shots with our guy Sam, and we both looked at this standing pool of water as if we knew how deep it was – it had been raining for a few weeks straight. I said to Trent it’d surely only be a foot deep, if that.
It wasn’t. But he was soon a foot deep in water.
There were some reasons that this happened: a) we didn’t check how deep it was – rookie, silly mistake; b) we decided to drive through it, not around it – dumb; c) it was only in 4H, not 4L, and the rear diff wasn’t locked – user error.
What this all meant was that as Trent drove in, he ran out of purchase under the tyres, and as he attempted to push through on the throttle, all that happened was the bigger rocks got washed away, leaving a mud bank underneath for the rubber to try and come to grips with.
Luckily we had the Foton Tunland with its accessories pack, including a 6000-pound winch on its bullbar, which managed to pull the vehicle – and soggy-footed Trent – out of trouble.
We dried the Toyota out over the next couple of days, and thankfully there was no damage to its luxurious grey carpet flooring.
We still managed to do some hardcore work in this thing. As mentioned, I drove up a slippery washed-out creek bed in it with more than 1.5 tonnes of wood in the tray, and it showed no concern for its wellbeing whatsoever.
We also managed to do some steep inclines and declines over even poorer surfaces, and the grip from its Dunlop Grandtrek AT all-terrain rubber was superb.
It’s worth noting that if you plan to do a desert crossing or find yourself stranded in deep mud that the track between the front and rear axles is different – the width across the axle up front is 1555mm, where at the rear it’s 1460mm. That means, instead of your front wheels making a path for the rears to follow, the rears will also have to beat their way through the terrain, meaning dense, soft sand or heavy mud may be a headache.
But for farmers, miners, anyone who wants to go anywhere and plans to do so, maybe consider a lower-spec version. It has vinyl floors and thinner wheels, meaning a little less work when it comes to off-road arm twirling.
Click the Gallery tab above for more images by Sam Venn
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