Entry level LandCruiser GX is comfortable, powerful and has go anywhere ability, but it may be a little too basic for some.
The Toyota LandCruiser has developed a reputation for its formidable off-road ability, it’s toughness and comfort. If you opt for the LandCruiser Sahara, you’ll be ensconced it utmost luxury with very nearly every convenience you could desire.
The mid-spec LandCruiser GXL has long been a family favourite and the LandCruiser VX is nearly as plush as the Sahara, but with a noticeably smaller price tag at around $99,000 as opposed to the Sahara’s $120k odd sticker price.
But what about the base model LandCruiser, the LandCruiser GX. Well, the entry level ‘Cruiser kicks off at $78,190 plus on road costs and initial perceptions suggest that this big 4×4 is about form, rather than function.
The standard equipment list is, well, on the short side and creature comforts are a little scarce. You get air conditioning, satellite navigation, Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming and central locking; that’s pretty much it in terms of luxury.
The steering wheel does away with leather trim and buttons – that isn’t so practical, more on that later – and the floors are finished in hardwearing vinyl. No sumptuous carpet here. High quality and durable plastics abound the interior suggesting that this a LandCruiser that’ll be more at home on a construction site, rather than the tree lined avenues of an exclusive suburb.
The seats are comfortable, but there are only five of them as opposed to eight in the more expensive models – you’re unlikely to fit a trio of tradies in the third row anyway. Interestingly, enough, though, they’re wrapped in a soft velour which was pleasant to the touch, but we’re not sure if it’d do well in repelling dirt and mud.
The lack of buttons on the steering wheel is a silly omission and, to an extent compromises safety. If you want to make a call or adjust the volume on the audio system you need to reach over and press tiny a button on the archaic infotainment system. We found this frustrating and an inconvenience. Similarly, a reversing camera or parking sensors aren’t fitted as standard equipment, either.
Parking sensors, arguably are a convenience. A reversing camera is both a convenience and a safety accessory that should be fitted on all vehicles as standard. Rearward visibility in the LandCruiser GX can be tricky, courtesy of those rear barn doors which leave a huge line in the middle of your rear vision mirror. We’re guessing this barn configuration makes it easier to load and unload goods.
Under the bonnet lies Toyota’s 4.5 litre twin turbo diesel V8, which kicks out a healthy 200kW @ 3600rpm and 650Nm @ 1600-2600rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic which sends power to the road via a full time four-wheel drive system.
The power plant offers bundles of torque from just above idle and it’s smooth and effortless. An added bonus is that it emits a snarly and rather addictive exhaust note. The six-speed autobox is relatively smooth too.
Off-road, a dual-range gear box, a limited slip differential and that ride height work to combat obstacles out bush. It’s worth noting that the GX is the only model in the LandCruiser range that offers a snorkel as standard – on other models it’s an optional extra – which means water crossing will be that little bit easier.
Overall, the LandCruiser GX still embodies a number of qualities that are synonymous with the LandCruiser name: it’s very comfortable, a grunty V8 that makes a nice noise and it’ll go pretty much anywhere you point it. However, some of the omissions Toyota has made to this entry level model diminishes its appeal to private and fleet buyers alike: the absence of a reversing camera compromises safety and the deletion of steering wheel mounted controls and parking sensors seem nonsensical.
We still love the LandCruiser, but if the choice was ours, we’d go for a higher trim level.