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Reader test: Toyota Land Cruiser

2009-09-11 08:30

Rishon Chimboza

As the rebels in DRC, Sudan and Afghanistan barrel down dirt roads hanging gung-ho from the sides of the Land Cruiser 70, fifty at a time with AKs pointing to the sky, their leaders glide over rough terrain to sign peace treaties in Land Cruiser 100s.

Oil sheikhs and Russian oligarchs wouldn’t be embarrassed cruising in one, neither would the greenies object to using one for those hard- to-reach conservation projects.  If there was ever a one size fits all vehicle, the Land Cruiser 100 is it - although I highly doubt that the metros in their skinny jeans and pointy "Aladdin" shoes would be caught dead in one!

Doing the deed

With dodgy fuel quality being a reality across Southern Africa, coupled with the fact that mechanics in most rural parts are equipped solely with a hammer and worryingly rusty spanners, the decision to buy the Land Cruiser 100 was an easy one. Like a desperate man in an Amsterdam red-light district, my dad wanted something easy to service, that could take a battering if needs must and could go the distance without a hitch!

The Land Cruiser 100 doesn’t disappoint in that aspect, plus it can carry five adults from Cape Town to Luanda without missing a beat and no pocket-emptying red lights flashing on the dash. I knew then that the fancy Range Rovers and low-sulphur sipping Discoverys were definitely out of the question. Besides, can you imagine how ugly a big scratch on the side of a gun-metal gray GL500 would look? On the Land Cruiser it actually looks heroic!!

A quick phone call to "a friend in Japan" and many customs forms later, a brand new facelifted 100 Series VX Limited G-Selection 4.2 diesel (whew) was at my dad’s doorstep. Three years and 220 000 km later, some of the only things that have needed replacing are the tyres due to normal wear and tear, a faulty climate control thermostat and some headlight bulbs! Unbelievable eh? I know!

So-called diesel diet

This is despite frequent encounters with potholes on trips to Zimbabwe and traversing dirt trails to remote mines across the breadth of SADC. Amazingly, we have never had any issues with the fuel management system despite a consistent diet of rooibos tea-coloured so-called diesel drawn from drums.

I don’t have to talk much about residuals because this car is bullet-proof and can even be used as a family heirloom!  
Huge cross-border distances are dispatched briskly too with the 4.2 litre providing 150kw and 430Nm of unstressed firepower.

Ditto for the off-roading ability. The ride on the car is a bit agricultural and despite having "Sky-Hook" air suspension, it feels like it has wooden wheels. A comparative ride in a Prado feels like a massive waterbed with an engine.

The turning circle makes driving in cities real hell and there’s the omnipresent risk of being a target of "private car exporters". 

There’s enough space to fit three of the Springbok’s front row on the back seat in comfort and the leather is hard wearing too, despite it being a dubious cream colour. The only problem I have is with the fake wood that Toyota loves. Stop it guys, at this price, it’s not cool! 

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