All-new Toyota Land Cruiser 300 VX Limited: drive time

Dean Evans, Editor
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Photos / Dean Evans, supplied

The beloved V8 has departed Land Cruiser. Sorry to start with bad news, but the twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6 is a suitable substitute for the latest 300 Series, which we’ve just driven for 150km.

With just one 300 Series in NZ, we’re also one of the first in the world to get a taste of the new 300 Series Toyota Land Cruiser, before its official on-sale of November 1.

Following 570,000km of development driving across five continents including Australia has produced better fuel efficiency, more power and torque and improved on-road comfort, all desirables that were wanted and implemented.

On a 20 per cent more rigid ladder frame, given a monocoque would not satisfy those pre-requisites, the Land Cruiser was tested literally to breaking point and revised and improved. One example Toyota NZ explains is the starter motor: its original location proved too low and it was collecting mud, so the feedback was given to Japan and it was relocated higher.

With three models making up the 300 Series range, we drove the mid-spec VX Limited, with more equipment than the VX entry level model, but more everyday accommodating than the sporting GR-S model.

It’s the V6 that headlines the 300 Series, with a 225kW/700Nm twin-turbo V6 that sits lower and further back. A sequential turbo set-up with water-to-air intercooling, a smaller and larger turbo engine seamlessly serves up what is almost naturally aspirated-like linear power with very turbo-like torque, and usurps the outgoing V8 model by 25kW and 50Nm. And it’s more efficient, too, at 8.9l/100km, around six per cent more frugal. So it beats the V8 in every metric.

It loses the V8 rumble but its V6 soundtrack is more subdued, and pacey, with a hand-timed, four-up 0-100km/h time around 9.5 seconds. More likely high-eights, which is decent for a 2630kg machine. And it never feels out of its power or torque band thanks to Toyota’s first 10-speed auto.

Also with more aplomb is the handling thanks to retuned damping and steering, through the turns and twists of Palmerston North “north”, the 300 Series is noticeably more planted, with less body roll and less boatiness to it. Note the use of “less”, as it’s still a big beast.

As the only model in the range on 20-inch wheels, there’s no complaint about the ride quality, and that comfort washes over the interior, too, with chunky, tactile buttons, big screens and a mix of luxury, comfort and convenience, like the 12.3 inch touchscreen (up from nine-inches), Apple/Android integration, and 14 speakers dotted around the cabin in the JBL audio system. There’s also a new Head-Up Display, heated and cooled seats, and a more accommodating third row that’s 250mm wider, with seats that conventionally flip forward, rather than up on the sides in the previous model. A flat load floor makes life easier, as does an auto-closing and locking tailgate.

Radar cruise is improved all the way to standstill for three seconds, plus there’s curve reduction which senses if the car, on cruise control, is travelling too fast, and eases off the speed.

Safety Suite upgrades include lane centering, speed sign display and intelligent parking sensors that apply the brakes in impending collisions.

With 30-40 sales per month, the Land Cruiser isn’t Toyota’s bulk seller, but with a target of 50 per month in 2022, it does cater for the specific clientele rather well.

It’s comfortable, well equipped, a level up over the previous model in all areas, faster, more powerful, lighter and more fuel efficient.

So aside from the lack of V8, it’s all good for LC buyers, and with pricing likely announced in August, it’s expected to be within a few thousand dollars of the current models, with mild increases coming from the improved tech of course topped by the GR-S model.

So it’s good-bye to Land Cruiser V8, and hello to the new most-improved player. Not a bad way to celebrate its 70th birthday.


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