Land Cruiser goes double-cab
ON TOP OF THE WORLD: The Land Cruiser convoy stopped at the top of the 1583m-high Swartberg pass - Thomas Bain's last engineering masterpiece. Image: LES STEPHENSON
Author: LES STEPHENSON
It's taken a long time (the Land Cruiser HAS been around for 60 years, after all!) but Toyota SA’s steady pressure on Toyota Global in Japan has at last paid off with the introduction of a Land Cruiser double-cab pick-up.
Yep, there’s now a ”lifestyle” version of what is probably the world’s most rugged 4x4 “workhorse” bakkie, a five-seater four-door superwagon minted for outdoors orientated families/friends from the raw metal of a truck more usually seen on construction sites, farms and mines around the world.
UNDILUTED LAND CRUISER
It’s arrived in South Africa as part of a general upgrade of the Land Cruiser 70 range whose pack-leading station-wagon arrived here some years ago, to general acclaim, as a bush-savvy five-seater with a family-sized luggage bay – and all the all-terrain strength and 4x4 abilities of the familiar bakkie.
Leslie Long, Toyota SA’s senior manager for marketing planning, was frank about the latest Land Cruiser range during their media introduction in the Western Cape this week: “I consider the undiluted Land Cruiser to be the REAL 4x4 of the Toyota range.”
There’s one in the eye for Prado and Fortuner owners but what he was getting at was that the Land Cruiser is a real off-roader for plunging across rivers, crawling over suspension-straining boulders with its 235mm ground clearance and high approach/departure angles, or skimming across desert sand.
You’re simply not going to throw your fancy Fortuner over obstacles at which a ‘Cruiser sneers..
“It engages the driver,” Long added. “It has a distinct lack of electronic aids.” He’s right: give me a manual gearbox with a shifter that takes a bit of muscle to operate through high and low ranges, front and rear locking differentials and a dearth of buttons and switches.
OZ AND EMIRATES IN THE GAME
Long explained that, once-upon-a-time, Toyota Japan didn’t want to know about a double-cab ‘Cruiser, but a visit to and tour of South Africa by a super-senior Toyota panjandrum changed all that – and that’s how what was supposed to be just a running specification change for the ‘Cruisers turned into something much more exciting.
Oz and the Emirates have now also tuned in to the SA double-cab phenomenon. Long again: “Australia and the Middle East also became interested and from there it just grew.
“The ‘Cruiser has become a family and leisure vehicle but in double-cab form and if the family wants to do some seriously long-distance travel the double cab has a 130-litre fuel tank (the single-cabs run with two 90-litre tanks).
VIDEO - Watch the 'Cruisers in action in 'The Kloof'
And getting lost (though that can be fun in a ‘Cruiser) is really no longer an option: the station-wagons and double-cabs now come with (in keeping with their role as people-carriers for up to five) with carpeting, satnav and a stereo system that includes a CD player and an auxiliary USB port.
What’s more, the double-cabs have not lost their 1000kg payload rating – well, 920kg and 1005kg for the diesel and petrol models respectively.- and rear drum brakes have at last bowed out to the superiority of discs all round.
CRUISER 76 - THE MOST REFINED
All models now also have anti-lock brakes (disabled when diff locks engage) power-assisted steering, tilt and telescoping steering column, aircon, power windows and a 12V accessory socket and remote-controlled central locking. The USB socket on the audio will charge your camera or cellphone.
Aesthetically the most refined of the 70 double-cabs is the 76 (see gallery images) that’s gussied up with colour-coded and chromed accoutrements (bumpers, grille, wheel-arch extensions), aluminium door steps and 16” alloy rims.
Also in the range is the three-door 78 Wagon. This “trooper” also has two 90-litre fuel tanks and is recognisable through its two front fog lights. Unfortunately, the one in the launch fleet was rolled at the MinWater Eco Adventures farm off the R62 a few km west of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape (there's a map on their website). A driving error caused the roll - not the 'Cruiser - but watch how the 'troopie" was recovered...
It was on The Kloof, the toughest test in the place; a one-kilometre crawl along a dry river-bed and the driver was trying to negotiate a section called The Wall – a near 45-degree cross-slope that, the MinWater info booklet warns, “is a Grade 5 test needing a lot of experience, all-wheel drive with low-range, diff-locks, good ground clearance and recovery equipment”.
REAR SEATS A TRIFLE TIGHT
Then come the 79’s – first up in single-cab guise and not quite as aesthetically functional as the 78. They have colour-coded and chromed exterior trim, front fog lights and colour-matched wheel-arch extenders.
The new 79 double-cabs, though getting the extra space (to be honest, it’s not great) in the rear – try before you buy - and two more doors, lose the arch extensions and alloy rims (though they are available as an option). They do, however, get the audio/satnav combo and the 130-litre fuel tank.
The engines are unchanged: a rather old and sluggish - but utterly dependable - 4.2-litre diesel across the range and capable of 96kW at 3800rpm and 285Nm from 2200rpm and a four-litre petrol in the ‘Cruiser 79 single and double-cab versions whose power comes in at 170kW at 5600rpm and torque at 360Nm at 3800 rpm. But another one is coming - see Footnote.
FOOTNOTE: It was announced, in response to a question at the launch from Wheels24, that the rectangular “power bulge” on each 70-series bonnet will at last be filled - with a V8 single-turbo diesel due for release in SA later in 2013 and able to digest South Africa’s still “dirty” diesel.
Out of SA, you'll be able to fill up at a truck-stop.
Land Cruiser 76 Station Wagon (4.2 diesel) - R506 700
Land Cruiser 78 Wagon (4.2 diesel) - R484 000
Land Cruiser 79 Pick-Up Single Cab (4.0 petrol) - R417 900
Land Cruiser 79 Pick-Up Single Cab (4.2 diesel) - R444 800
Land Cruiser 79 Pick-Up Double Cab (4.0 petrol) - R463 900
Land Cruiser 79 Pick-Up Double Cab (4.2 diesel) - R487 000
All 70 Series models are delivered with a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a 24-hour ToyotaCare roadside assistance programme.