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Review: 2008 Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series, King on and off the Road

December 19th, 2008
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Read the complete Toyota LandCruiser review

I don’t know about you but ever since I was a little tacker I’ve loved big cars, and ever since I was a little tacker Toyota has been building them. For those that complain about the price of fuel read the Toyota Prius review here, for those that have a passion for large machinery and cars or need a true work horse Toyota has the car for you.

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8

The LandCruiser was introduced into Australia during the Snowy Mountain Scheme to assist workers traveling over rough and steep terrain. And to this day Cruisers are used in a similar sort of fashion on and off the road.

Toyota is like a monarchy of off-road vehicles, starting with the small RAV4, the Camry based Kluger, then the larger LandCruiser Prado, and the King of the off-road 200 Series.

The LandCruiser 200 Series is a sure 4x4 legend, and it’s no wonder they are market leaders in this segment; maintaining over 10,000 units per year except 2007 when the previous shape 100 Series was in run out mode. In 2007 the 200 Series replaced the successful 100 Series and from a distance many wouldn’t notice the change in style and design, however this has always been the case with LandCruisers since the beginning. Toyota, being a successful company, is reluctant to change when they’re onto a good thing, you’ll notice ever since the 80 Series LandCruiser was introduced; the same style has been continually enhanced till today. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The LandCruiser has evolved from a tough off-roader to an urban SUV with some serious street cred.

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8

All though the exterior is only slightly updated in terms of styling, its dimensions have grown in length and width. The interior has been completely renovated; it’s comfortable with a modern uncluttered design. The switchgear is easy to see, reach and operate; a most important aspect of an interior. There’s more to like in this modern SUV and we should see it competing with the more luxurious brand rivals.

The new LandCruiser features upgraded engines with improved fuel economy. Customers have the choice between a 4.7 Litre V8 petrol engine and a 4.5 Litre Twin Turbo diesel engine. At PressPortal we reviewed the GXL V8 Petrol and absolutely loved the grunt it supplied, the 202 kW is a figure below what we expected but the 410 Nm @ 3400 rpm was addictive.

The 4.7 Litre V8 petrol as tested is matched to a smooth changing five speed automatic transmission with a sequential shift lever which proves to be ideal for holding gear whilst tackling some hills off-road.

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8

With the more luxurious brand SUVs, you wouldn’t dare take them off-road (unless you were an arrogant automotive publication without any regard for the vehicle) and are more suited to the Toorak tractor status. However, the LandCruiser on the other hand reminds me of a Swiss army knife, capable of anything and ready for anything.

The LandCruiser is manufactured in Japan but is Australian at heart, one of the highlights of the new cruiser is the impressive KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) suspension which is an Australian invention Toyota bought the rights to use.

“KDSS in new LandCruiser 200 acts by adjusting front and rear stabiliser resistance; based on the movement of hydraulic cylinders installed on both the front and rear stabiliser bars and connected by a pair of hydraulic lines.”

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8

The KDSS helps defy what large SUVs are so prone to when vehicles of this size and nature take a corner – vehicle body-roll occurs to the extreme. The KDSS works to keep the LandCruiser as flat as possible during a corner; which means you can drive it like a passenger vehicle and keep the wide 17 inch alloy wheels on the ground all the time.

LandCruiser must be Japanese for convenience; I’ve never seen another base model vehicle packed with so many features. Approaching the LandCruiser there’s no need to pull the key out of your pocket as the doors unlock with the proximity sensor. Being a large SUV the side steps and grab handles assist in getting in the Cruiser, starting the engine via the START button gives the first impression of being in a cockpit. There are buttons and knobs for the drivetrain, diffs, traction control, suspension system and more.

The stereo system is positioned high in the dashboard making it easy to adjust the stereo without taking your eyes off the road for too long. The sound system also incorporates a simple to use Bluetooth phone system. The steering wheel is large and has tilt/telescopic adjustment and no steering wheel controls are seen here. You’ll have to go to higher VX and Sahara grades for this feature.

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8
Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8

Sitting high in the LandCruiser gives the feeling of immortality; you can see far beyond the vehicle in front, the large bonnet is reassuring in the event of an accident with the added assurance of safety features including dual front airbags, side airbags, curtain airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, stability control and many more.

When off-road (and please if you buy a LandCruiser do take it off road) the LandCruiser is packed with so many features so anyone can feel like a 4x4 king. Starting with constant four wheel drive, downhill assist control, multi-terrain ABS brakes, Torsen slip limited centre differential, low range transfer box, KDSS and CRAWL.

The CRAWL system is just like the name, standard on the petrol models. When turned on and in low gear, it takes control over the powertrain and brakes of the Cruiser leaving the driver to concentrate on steering. CRAWL comes in handy in sticky situations such as mud, water crossings, snow, sand and rocky terrain. The speed of the Cruiser is limited for maximum traction keeping suspension at an optimum height, limiting damage caused to the undercarriage. But just in case, Toyota has fitted underbody protection plates.

The LandCruiser has three rows of seats, the third row can seat adults but not for long as leg room is limited. The seats can be folded up for when not in use, but unfortunately don’t fold flat into the floor.

Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series GXL V8

The GXL V8 petrol features a large 138 litre fuel tank so you won’t be revisiting the fuel bowser all the time, fuel consumption has improved over the 100 Series, now achieving a combined fuel consumption of 14.5 litres per 100 km. For people that pay the premium, the Twin turbo Diesel engine model will achieve 10.3 litres per 100 km.

The LandCruiser can tow a whopping 3500 kgs, so for any retirees picking a caravan to tow around Australia, don’t let the weight of the van limit your choice. It will also tow the heaviest ski/fish boats and when adventuring off-road it will contentedly pull out a bogged Patrol or Hummer.

The new 200 Series model range kicks off with the GXL model, removing the Standard grade previously offered in the 100 Series; now giving a bigger gap between the LandCruiser and Prado. The LandCruiser model range is priced between $70K and $105K.

For customers wanting more and have more moulah to spend, Lexus offer a larger capacity engine of 5.7 Litres in their LX570 which shares the same platform as the 200 Series and is priced from $141K.

The 200 Series LandCruiser Model Range:




 GXL  $69,990 $79,990 
 VX  $79,990  $89,990
 Sahara      $94,990  $104,990

Rating: 4 out of 5

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