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The market leader in this top-spec' segment scored HiLux power for 2024.


Since the first Land Cruisers came to Australia in the 1970s evolution, not revolution, has been the name of the game, but in 2022 the 70 Series became much more complex and added the HiLux diesel option for 2024.


In late-2023 Toyota took the wraps off a significantly upgraded LandCruiser 70 Series that was offered with an optional HiLux/Prado four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, when it arrived in Australia in early 2024.

In addition to the borrowed powertrain, the upgraded 70 Series brought ‘refreshed styling’, a significant increase in safety technology and comfort and convenience features, and an upgraded multimedia system.

The optional powertrain was available across the range that included four body styles and three grades, and joined the V8 turbodiesel/five-speed manual variants.



The HiLux/Prado’s 2.8-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine generated claimed maximum power of 150kW at 3400rpm and peak torque of 500Nm between 1600rpm and 2800rpm; some 70Nm greater than the existing V8 diesel engine.

The 4.5-litre V8 turbodiesel generates a maximum power of 151kW at 3400rpm and peak torque of 430Nm from 1200rpm to 3200rpm.

However, the claimed outputs for the four-cylinder were put under cloud by Toyota’s January 2024 confession to ‘irregularities’ in its testing procedures.



The 2.8-litre engine was mated only to the six-speed Aisin automatic transmission and offered in three Single Cab grades – Workmate, GX and GXL – and two grades – Workmate and GXL – for Double Cab, Troop Carrier and Wagon variants.

The V8 was paired with a five-speed manual gearbox and  offered in the same grades and body styles as the 2.8-litre powertrain, with the exception of the LC76 Wagon that was four-cylinder only.



From a visual perspective, the 2024 LandCruiser 70 Series had a redesigned front end that Toyota reckoned ‘references the design of the iconic LandCruiser 40 Series’, but it was really a squarish box.

The interior of the vehicle had a styling upgrade and the instrument cluster and centre console were redesigned for improved ergonomics, visual ease and practicality, with the addition of a multi-information display.



The multimedia system featured a 6.7-inch touchscreen on all grades that is now compatible with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, sound quality was rubbish.

Toyota improved the safety technology in the LandCruiser 70 Series with the addition of lane departure alert, road speed sign display and automatic high beam, as part of the Toyota Safety Sense suite of advanced driver assistance features.

We’ve saved the best bit for last: the narrow-track rear axle – the same width as the one on the OTA 30-year-old 75 Series – carried over on the ‘new’ machine. Can you believe that the 2024 vehicle had the same mismatched front and rear axle tracks as the previous models?



Begrudged upgrades



Changed bonnet lines: 1993 – 2024

Everyone knows that Toyota’s 70 Series has survived way beyond its original planned demise and that’s why Toyota 76, 78 and 79 Series LandCruisers received ‘band aid’ upgrades from a maker that would rather not continue with this line.

The classic example was rear axle track width that dated back to the 1990s, while the front track was widened to accommodate a V8 diesel in place of the old six.

Toyota Japan has repeatedly tried to phase out the 70 Series, but customer demand just wouldn’t let them!

Back in 2012, Toyota Australia made the following statement: 

“So far in 2012 the LandCruiser ute has outsold popular 4×4 utes, including the Isuzu D-Max, Holden Colorado, Volkswagen Amarok, Great Wall V240, Land Rover Defender and Nissan Patrol, while a large proportion of the 5713 LandCruiser wagons sold this year were also 70 Series models.

“However, all that will change in 2013, when Australian mining giant BHP Billiton, which is a major Toyota fleet customer, requires all vehicles purchased for its fleet – not just in Australia but globally – to come with a five-star (maximum) NCAP safety rating.

“While the 70 Series will finally be available with ABS brakes from October, it will never be fitted with electronic stability control or side curtain airbags, without which it cannot achieve a five-star NCAP rating.”

That turned out to be untrue, because we know that Toyota was forced to upgrade the 70 Series, despite its intentions to discontinue the model.

Five-star mandated safety items were added, but items that were not deemed necessary to rectify – rear axle track and handbrake inefficiency – were simply ignored.

The Australian after-market reacted with axle-track kits and, in late 2023, Bendix developed an Electric Park Brake (EPB) for 76, 78 and 79 Series LandCruisers. 

Pricing for the 2024 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series is below. Note that the first column is for the four cylinder/auto powertrain and the second is for the V8/manual.

76 Series WorkMate Wagon $75,600
76 Series GXL Wagon $79,800 $83,900
78 Series Troop Carrier WorkMate $79,200 $83,300
78 Series Troop Carrier GXL $82,500 $86,600
79 Series Single Cab Chassis WorkMate $76,800 $80,900
79 Series Single Cab Chassis GX* $78,800 $82,900
79 Series Single Cab Chassis GXL $80,900 $85,000
79 Series Double Cab Chassis WorkMate* $79,300 $83,400
79 Series Double Cab Chassis GXL $83,500 $87,600

The front and rear diff lock kit was an additional $1500 on the base models.



Essentially, the 2024 LC 79 was a progressively upgraded 2017 model that was redesigned minimally to achieve ANCAP five-star rating and then given a GVM upgrade to 3510kg in 2022, putting it into the light truck category.

Only one of the four models – the single-cab ute – had a five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2016. The other three variants (the four-door dual-cab ute, the wagon, and the Troop Carrier) had only two airbags and no safety ratings.

It was very easy to be doubly cynical about Toyota’s strategy with the 70 Series: firstly, achieving ANCAP five-star safety only on the single-cab model that was most popular with mining companies and then upgrading its GVM to light truck status and thereby avoiding the need to comply with March 2025 ADR 72 side-intrusion requirements for vehicles in the below-3500kg GVM category.

A further complication was that the 2016-granted five-star rating expired in January 2024, so Toyota couldn’t claim a current ANCAP safety rating for any of its 70 Series variants. 

However, Toyota pointed out to OTA that it substantially improved safety equipment and technologies with the introduction of the 2024 70 Series range.

Added were: lane departure alert; speed-sign assist; and automatic high beam. Four-cylinder variants also scored downhill assist control and wagons gained a reversing camera.

These technologies expanded on existing Toyota Safety Sense features, including the pre-collision safety system, with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection and intersection assistance. 

It will be interesting to see how that plays out with fleets who demand five-star safety ratings in any new vehicle purchases.

Yet another issue was the January 2024 announcement that production of four-cylinder engines for the 70 Series will be halted, following yet another engine testing scandal at the Toyota Group.



2024 on and off road test



Toyota made it difficult for OTA to get hold of a press test vehicle, but persistence (and the fact that I’ve been reporting on Toyota vehicles for the past 50 years and therefore have some palace contacts) paid off, finally.

The test vehicle was one of the press release vehicles from the December 2023 function held near Broken Hill, but we didn’t get hold of the press vehicle until 18th January. 

The test machine was a base-model, 79 Series, GX cab/chassis, powered by the four-cylinder/auto powertrain and fitted with a galvanised steel, drop-side body. Full of fuel (130 litres) it tipped the scales at 2497kg, giving it a full tonne of usable payload.



The base model rode on skinny, high-profile 225/95R16 LT Dunlop Road Griper tyres that were introduced back in 2017 and were then virtual orphans in the replacement tyre market. Since then, replacement tyre availability has improved. 

Once again, it’s easy to be cynical about this odd tyre choice, but it replicated the dimensions and load carrying capacity of the pre-2016, 7.50R16 split-rim tyre and that meant no need to fit wider mudguards, particularly to the rear of TroopCarrier models. Another advantage is that the spare wheel and tyre fits comfortably under a tray that’s reasonably low.

Lifting the very heavy bonnet was hard work in this age of cheap gas struts, but reflected Toyota’s commitment to do only what’s necessary, not necessarily what’s nice. Speaking of the bonnet, the test vehicle’s skin-stiffening under-panel was attached at its trailing edge by adhesive that had already lost its grip – that wouldn’t have happened in the “good ol’ days”.



The HiLux’s four-cylinder engine fitted easily into the large V8-sized 70 Series engine bay, but all its modern ancillary gear meant that the volume was necessary.

Unlike the V8 that had a large pancake air-to-air intercooler mounted atop the engine, the HiLux had a smaller air-to-coolant intercooler. However, to keep it cool it was fitted with its own coolant loop, including a small radiator and expansion bottle. The upside of this complexity is intercooler-core cooling, independent of the engine cooling system, so a leak in one system won’t affect the other.

The 2024 LC70 Series retained the traditional part-time-4WD system and had the automatic front hubs, with a spanner-lock position, that were introduced back in 2017. They’re a pain, because they never lock reliably in ‘auto’ mode and you have to ferret around for your wheel-brace to lock them. They’re more trouble than the simple, manual locking hubs Toyota has had for years.



Interestingly, they’re exactly the same hubs that were fitted to Nissan Patrols 30 years ago, so maybe Toyota picked up some old stock once the ‘real’ Patrol was no more!

I drove the test vehicle on a variety of road surfaces, from narrow gravel tracks to freeways and on steep off-road fire trails. Test loads varied from an empty tray to weights of 600kg-800kg.



The 2024 LandCruiser showed its no-frills heritage in terms of vintage ride and handling, but that was not a surprise. Unlike many of the popular dual-purpose, lighter-duty utes on the market, the LC70 doesn’t pretend to be refined. 

‘Square-rigged’ live-axle 4WDs don’t have the more refined road manners of more popular utes, but the LC70 showed the plusses for this layout when the going got tough. It didn’t lift wheels as easily as they do when off-roading and it rode over potholes that might have sent independent front suspension (IFS) utes off to the wheel aligners.

However, it felt far from car-like in town environments, understeering heavily in tight corners and lacking a reverse camera for easier parking manoeuvres. That said, it had some useful driver aids that I liked very much.



The latest steering wheel telescoped and tilted and had button controls for audio and vehicle info displays. Audio and nav data showed up on a small central display screen whose pale readouts were hard to see in poor light. Vehicle and trip info, including fuel consumption and diesel particulate filter (DPF) regeneration status, was provided beside the instrument cluster, in front of the driver.

Incidentally, the DPF performed automatic regenerations while I was driving, doing two ‘regens’ during this 600-kilometre test. Vehicle performance was unaffected while the DPF burned out soot buildup.



Many drivers hate the lane-keeping function that’s a feature of every new vehicle. The LC70’s lane-keeping function was limited to a subtle ‘beep’ when the front-facing camera detected inadvertent lane crossing, but it wasn’t overly intrusive, nor was there ‘haptic’ or steering action imparted through the wheel rim.

I also liked the current speed limit display that changed colour to orange when the vehicle exceeded the posted limit, but there was no ‘nagging’ from the computer.

The auto transmission shifter fell readily to hand and the 4WD transfer case lever was also ergonomically positioned on the driver’s side of the transmission tunnel. The auto shifted sweetly and could be overridden quickly with a sideways flick into ‘manual’ mode, where it retained any selected ratio. The lack of engine braking from the slush box was made up for with electronic hill descent control (HDC).



Gearing changes with the four cylinder/auto combination saw the rev counter sitting around 1600-1200rpm nearly all the time, when running in ‘D’ mode. That’s a huge improvement over the original V8-powered LC70s that sat around 2600rpm at highway cruising speeds.

The average fuel consumption for this mixed-surface, mixed-freight test worked out at 12.4L/100km, which is about the same as the V8 delivered on a similar test route. 

Vision over the now-bulbous bonnet wasn’t as bad as I feared, thanks to the LC70’s traditionally-high seating position. The two bucket seats had more shape than previous iterations that stuck to the 2+1 bucket-plus-bench layout, but their sticky vinyl covering was less welcome. Budget for seat covers, I suggest.

Speaking of budget, the latest LC 70 cab/chassis range starts at $76,800 for the vehicle we tested, up to $87,600 for the GXL Double Cab. To those figures you’d need to add on-roads, plus at least five grand for a tray body. The GXL has 265-section tyres, aluminium wheels and diff locks, but the GX doesn’t come with the $1500 diff-lock package. The GX also has quarter lights and wind-up windows.

On the diff-lock note, I’d rather have after-market, non-factory diff locks, because they operate immediately the driver selects the switches, whereas the factory diff locks have highly-restrictive safety parameters for engagement. On several past tests I’ve tried to get the factory diff locks to engage and became more bogged than necessary by the time the protocols were all met and the locks engaged.

So, who’s going to buy the 2024 LandCruiser 70 Series? Back in its early days the LC70 offered significant performance, payload and ruggedness advantages over cheaper, smaller utes. It also had big-bore six-cylinder and, later, V8 power, standard snorkel, plus four-wheel disc brakes and twin fuel tanks.

Now that smaller utes have proved that highly-turbocharged, small-capacity engines, with automatic transmissions, can outperform bigger LandCruisers on-road, the LC70 attraction is less obvious – particularly now that the ‘Cruiser has gone to a four-cylinder 2.8-litre/ six-speed auto powertrain option.






Pre-2023 models


Toyota isn’t stupid: you don’t get to be world number one by making many mistakes. Until relatively recently, the 70 Series was kept as simple as possible, with electronics only where they were necessary.

However, market pressure for best-practice dynamic and passive safety dictated much more electronic equipment in the MY 2017 vehicles that were launched in October 2016. In 2022, additional upgrades were incorporated.

The 4.5-litre V8 was under-stressed in the 76/78/79 Series, putting out 151kW at 3400rpm, with 430Nm in the 1200-3200rpm band.

The principal negatives for this engine were the ridiculous location of the starter motor, in the engine ‘vee’ and the alternator, at the bottom of the engine bay.

Both electrical components have proved vulnerable to corrosion: the starter because if the engine gets a bath, water pools around the starter motor and the alternator gets wet at virtually every creek crossing. Dumb.

Incidentally, getting the corroded starter out is a massive job that requires dismantling the fuel injection plumbing and the alternator is also relatively inaccessible. On our old LandCruiser 75 Series we can swap out a starter motor in around half an hour (had to do it at 400,000km) and the alternator has never got wet or clogged with mud.

The 79 Series engine engine was upgraded to Euro V emissions standard in late 2016, requiring a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to be added. That was not good news, because DPFs fill up with soot unless exhaust temperatures are kept high.

To clean out the DPF it’s necessary to perform a ‘regeneration’ procedure, or the engine will shut down. This involves parking the vehicle and running the engine with an over-rich mixture to raise the temperature in the DPF. You don’t want to do that in Mitchell Grass country!

This has already proved to be a big problem for owners who trickle along bush tracks or around properties at idle revs, with low exhaust temperatures.


DPF related recall 2020

There have been documented fires in 70 Series vehicles around Australia, caused by dry vegetation getting caught around the hot DPF housing and we’ve been warning potential buyers of this hazard since 2016 and so has Toyota, with a warning label on the driver’s door.

In May 2020, Toyota Australia finally announced a recall of LandCruiser 70 Series vehicles produced between June 2016 and November 2018: “to improve outreach to consumers” – whatever the hell that means. We suspect what they mean is to prevent fires and subsequent lawsuits! 

There were 22,971 such vehicles sold in the Australian market. However, we bet they don’t get that number turning up in dealerships, because many owners have become so scared of losing their vehicles in fires that they’ve – illegally – deleted their DPFs.

For involved vehicles, Toyota Dealers install modified heat-shields – free of charge to vehicle owners. Toyota Dealers also enable the DPF manual regeneration customisation mode, which allows owners to conduct manual regeneration prior to going off-road.

In addition, instructions on removal of accumulated vegetation are placed in owners’ vehicles as part of this campaign. The whole deal was said to take around three hours.

Given the complexity and maintenance issues involved with common-rail diesel injection, EGRs and DPFs It may be time Toyota thought about re-introducing a simpler, petrol-hybrid engine to the 70 Series. (The 75 Series used to come with a 4.5-litre in-line petrol six option.)

The standard engines for the 79 Series around the world are the old 1HZ diesel six that dates back to the Australian 75 Series and the four-litre V6 petrol engine that until late 2017 powered some Prado and HiLux variants here.

As we saw when a twin-turbo version was introduced in the 200 Series wagon range, the single-turbo V8 diesel engine is capable of much more output. However, considering the ancient heritage of the 78/79, the few upgrades made to the chassis and suspension, its notoriously weak clutch and a mere three-star ANCAP crashworthiness rating (until 2016 for the single-cab), the 151kW/430Nm outputs are just about right.

Until MY2017 the V8 model retained the same overall gearing as the previous generation six-cylinder models, so at cruising speed on the highway the V8 was spinning at a totally unnecessary 2600rpm and fuel economy suffered. Unbelievably, it took Toyota until late 2016 to revise the overdrive gear ratio, to drop engine revs to 2200rpm at 110km/h.

While Toyota was revising the transmission ratios it’s a shame the clutch didn’t get an upgrade, because slipping clutches are common in V8 ‘Cruisers. Toyota’s warranty ‘fix’ is to replace the clutch with the same part, so most owners get the job done elsewhere and pay for a heavier-duty clutch.

When the V8 was introduced the old 75-78 Series frame and body, with its small grille opening, were widened to accept the V8 engine with its much larger radiator.

The front axle track had to go up 80mm in the case of the split-rim-wheel Workmate version and 120mm on the aluminium-wheel GX and GXL versions.

The V8 model’s front track was therefore wider than the track of the leaf-sprung rear axle and it showed: drive behind the vehicle and you could be forgiven for thinking that it was ‘crabbing’ down the road.

Unbelievably, when the 70 Series was given safety upgrades in late 2016 the stupidly-narrow-track rear axle was retained.


21st Century developments

In the early 2000s the very high retail price of the LandCruiser 79 Series GXL made it look decidedly underdone: no factory air conditioning, a tiny, open oddments tray, cheap-looking cloth seats and carpet, a squinty interior light and a 1980s metal and plasso dashboard. The only concession to the 21st  century seemed to be an MP3-compatible CD player.

The interior remained virtually unchanged from the previous 78/79 Series, until the introduction of SRS airbags in 2010, when the dashboard and steering wheel shapes were revised. Along with that came a Bluetooth-equipped sound system that was iPod and Android compatible.

In 2012 Toyota released the five-seat 79 Series double-cab:  a tray-back chassis with a cut-off 76 Series wagon body dropped on it. The rear door cut-outs showed where the shorter-wheelbase 76 wagon’s rear mudguards would fit.

As with most double-cabs the bulk of the tray sat behind the rear axle, severely limiting real-world payload capacity.

Another casualty of the conversion was a drop in fuel tank capacity from 180 litres to only 130 litres.

At the same time ABS brakes were fitted and all GXL models scored standard differential locks.

The $63,990 base-model Workmate version ran on 16-inch split rims (did anyone seriously want these in 2012?), with a limited-slip rear differential, vinyl seat covers and floor mats.

The $67,990 GXL model looked better value for money, boasting aluminium wheels with tubeless tyres, front and rear diff locks, fog lamps, power windows, remote central locking, carpet and cloth seat covers.

The October 2016 upgrades were the most comprehensive made to the 70 Series and it’s very easy to be cynical about the ‘improvements’.

Clearly, Toyota had been forced to improve passive safety to retain its mining and government customers, yet the company has ignored the narrow-track rear axle issue.

The mining and government compamies’ principal purchase is the short-cab 79 Series and that’s the only model to win a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

ANCAP five-star ratings require multiple airbags. It’s also well known that a vehicle has to have pedestrian-strike ‘softening’ for a five-star rating and that has meant adding a bonnet ‘bulge’ to put some bonnet compression space above the engine, so that a pedestrian’s head doesn’t force the bonnet sheet metal immediately onto the engine.

That’s fine, for the one-percent of 70 Series that won’t have a bull bar fitted!

We welcomed the addition of vehicle stability control; active traction control; hill-start assist control; brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. Also welcome was cruise control, so the 70 Series was now no longer the only vehicle on the market – including trucks – that didn’t have it.

Toyota claimed improved fuel economy from the piezo injectors in the Euro V engine, which we doubted very much: if there was any improvement it would come from having an overdrive ratio that the V8 should have had since its introduction.

Some pundits reckoned Toyota would have to fit a six-speed to the 70 Series, but they don’t understand the Toyota ‘don’t do it unless you have to’ philosophy.

A weird inclusion was automatic front hubs, with a manual-lock position. They’re a pain, because they never lock reliably in ‘auto’ mode and you have to ferret around for your wheel-brace to lock them. They’re more trouble than the simple, manual locking hubs Toyota has had for years.

These are exactly the same hubs that were fitted to Nissan Patrols 20 years ago, so maybe Toyota picked up some old stock once the ‘real’ Patrol was no more.

Sensibly, the split-rim wheel finally went: replaced by tubeless steel 6Jx16 wheels, shod with 225/95R16 tyres on Workmate and Troopy models. Incidentally, the only reason the Troopy came on skinny wheels was that Toyota was too lazy to enlarge the rear wheel arch openings and fit flares.

We had to take issue with the choice of 225-section tyres. Try buying one in the bush and you’ll see what we mean. Why didn’t Toyota opt for the commonly available 235/85R16 that for years has been the tubeless replacement for 7.50R16 split-rim tubed tyres?

We liked the fact that MY2017 single cabs came with a stiffer frame, but we didn’t like the fact that they dropped to 130-litre fuel capacity from the previous 180. Another change was a set-back steering box, to restrict steering column intrusion into the cab in the event of a frontal accident.

Weight went up and GVM was still 3400kg, so Toyota’s boast of a 1200kg ‘payload’ needed to be examined. Tare weight is measured with an empty, dry cab/chassis.

Our MY 2017 test ute was fitted with a Toyota Genuine dropside steel body, towbar and under-tray spare wheel carrier, and tipped the scales at 2850kg with two people on board and a full tank of fuel. That dropped the real-world payload figure to 550kg and if you fitted a steel bar, winch and second battery the payload would drop even further, to around 400-450kg.

Many private buyers of previous 79 Series have opted for a pre-registration GVM increase, usually to 3700-3900kg, to allow them to fit a camping body. However, the 2017 model has electronic
stability control (ESC) and that’s calibrated to the 79 Series’ factory-rated GVM. There may be safety and legality issues with such a GVM increase on MY 2017 vehicles.

On that topic, one of the companies that has developed GVM upgrades, ARB, offers a 3780kg GVM upgrade kit for the 70 Series and states that it: “…undertakes all necessary testing to ensure its GVM kits are suitable for ESC-equipped vehicles, in order to obtain approval from DOTARS (Department of Transport and Regional Services)”.

The 70 Series cab/chassis pricing was horrific, as we’ve come to expect: from around 65 grand to 72 grand in 2019, plus air conditioning at $2761, making the 70 Series the only vehicle – car, SUV, 4WD or truck – in the Australian marketplace that didn’t have aircon as standard.

With a tray fitted, some bar work and needed suspension upgrades you didn’t get any change out of 80 grand.

Those who couldn’t live with the narrow-track rear axle had two wide-track, legal choices in the after-market.


2020 upgrades

In August 2020 all variants in the 4.5-litre V8 turbo-diesel workhorse range gained a multimedia system with a 15.5cm ( 6.1-inch) touch screen that incorporated satellite navigation with voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity.

Also added were two front USB ports, a 12-Volt accessory power input, a larger smartphone holder and a cupholder in the passenger-door bin.

Of course, pricing went up as well; Workmate single cab chassis $68,950;  GX single cab chassis $70,950; GXL single cab chassis $73,050; Workmate double cab chassis $71,500 and  GXL double cab chassis $75,600; Optional paint was $600 and diff locks (GX single and Workmate double cabs): $1,500.


70th Anniversary edition



Toyota’s legendary LandCruiser brand had its 70th anniversary in August 2021 and celebrated with the release of limited-edition versions of the LandCruiser 70 Series off-roader.

The platinum anniversary marked the 1951 Japanese debut of the Toyota BJ, which three years later was renamed ‘Land Cruiser’ (the ‘LandCruiser’ name contraction into one word happened in the the 1990s). The brand has been displayed on more than 10 million vehicles, sold worldwide.

The LandCruiser 70th Anniversary special-edition was based on the flagship GXL grade, with double diff locks and was offered as a 76 Series wagon and 79 Series single and double cab chassis pick-up. The Anniversary models had the usual Toyota very high pricing: $80,050 (single cab), $82,600 (double cab) and $78,500 (wagon).

The special-edition model featured minor styling enhancements: black heritage grille, front bumper and wheel-arch flares. Dark 16-inch aluminium wheels and headlamp bezels were fitted and the front fog lamps and daytime running lights were LEDs.

Marking the anniversary was a ‘Heritage’ LandCruiser badge above the front wheel arch and a ’70th Anniversary’ emblem.



Inside, the special-edition LandCruiser featured seats clad in premium black upholstery, with black leather-accented trim on the steering wheel rim and gear shift knob.

There was also woodgrain-look trim and instrument panel, silver accents for the air vents and black treatment for the switch trims on the doors.

A black centre console was fitted, with two additional 2.1-amp Type A USB chargers and a pair of cupholders.

Only 600 examples of the 70th Anniversary LandCruiser were planned for Australian release: 320 double cabs, 200 single cabs and 80 wagons, in French Vanilla, Merlot Red and Sandy Taupe colours.


2022 upgrades

Toyota upgraded its iconic workhorse 4WD LandCruiser 70 Series with improvements to safety technology and an increase in gross vehicle mass (GVM), offering greater payload.

In November 2022, the upgraded LandCruiser 70 Series pickup and wagon range scored a pre-collision safety system, incorporating autonomous emergency braking, with pedestrian and cyclist detection.

This built upon anti-lock braking, traction control, vehicle stability control and hill-start assist.

Design refinements have enabled Toyota to increase the GVM to more than 3500kg, supporting a useful increase in payload.

Unfortunately, in 2022, Toyota forbade its dealers from accepting any orders for new 70 Series vehicles, because it was unable to meet demand. As of May 2023 that order ban remained n place and that has pushed the price of used 70s way up.


On and off road in the 2017 model

Our test vehicle was a short-cab GXL, fitted with a steel dropside tray. Being a GXL it had factory-fitted front and rear diff locks, in addition to the new electronic traction and stability control aids.

On-road behaviour was much as we’ve reported below in the 2012 model test, except that the revised steering geometry resulted in a ‘dead’ spot in the steering. The big ‘Cruiser needed frequent steering correction when running in marked lanes and on cambered roads.

Seating was better than before, except for intrusive headrests that will knock off your Akubra.

Cruise control was appeciated and we’re pleased to report that Toyota resisted putting the controls for it on the steering wheel. The ‘old fashioned’ Toyota cruise control wand is more ergonomic than any wheel-hub button arrangement.

The revised transmission ratios should have been there from the day the turbo-six diesel was introduced, let alone the V8. We cruised happily at 2200rpm at a true 110km/h, with the drop in engine noise then replaced by wind noise from the snorkel top and the square mirrrors that someone must like.

Ride and handling aren’t any different from before and Toyota continues to demonstrate that it has no shock absorber specialists on staff – here or in Japan. The dampers don’t damp bumps and over-restrict rebound, North American style.

Secondary bitumen road driving was a lumpy experience, but a set of decent shockers could fix that to a large extent. Gravel road driving was also unnecessarily rough. Most recreational drivers will throw away the standard dampers anyway.

We couldn’t measure economy fairly, because the test vehicle had only 810km on the clock when we picked it up and was very ‘green’.

Vision was as before and the hideous new bonnet bulge didn’t intrude…on road. Off-road it was a vision blocker for shorter drivers.

Off road is the 70 Series’ forte and the new model continued with class-leading capability. Stability control is cancelled when low range is engaged, but, oddly, traction control on the test vehicle was cancelled in low range. This may be because the GXL had diff locks and the traction control system doesn’t work in concert with them.

Hill descent control wasn’t missed, because engine braking was as good as it gets.

In summary, the latest 70 Series iteration will please the Big Boys, but has far less appeal for the recreational market, we reckon. It now is even more expensive, has less fuel carrying capacity, less payload and more engine complication and emissions control complexity.


On and off road in the 2012 model

Driving the LandCruiser was a journey into the past, but traditionalists loved it. Ride was…er… lively over rough surfaces as the coil-sprung front end and leaf-sprung rear coped with their different reactions. Handling was weird, because you had a coil-sprung, wide-track front axle with a relatively low roll centre in combination with a narrow-track, leaf-sprung rear end with a much higher roll centre .

People who ask why Toyota didn’t give the V8 more grunt (it was up only 29kW and 50Nm on the old turbo six) haven’t driven one on something loose or slippery. Also, the old driveline was largely preserved, with the same gearing, so there were limitations on how much torque it could handle.

Braking was powerful, but heavy-footers needed to remember there was no ABS. The engine was a smooth performer, with ample flexibility and that was just as well, because the clunky transmission was well past its use-by date.

Fortunately,  it was easy to drive the unladen 78 using first, third then fifth, but for smooth, more economical towing a nice six-speeder with closer gaps and a taller overdrive ratio was long overdue. An auto option perhaps, or was that too much to expect?

Seating in the GXL’s bucket chairs proved quite comfortable on our Sydney-Brisbane and return journey, but we did miss cruise control and some in-cab noise mitigation. Induction noise through the snorkel and wind noise around the edges of what was a slightly streamlined brick drowned out Mozart.

When towing a Conqueror camper’s one-tonne weight the ‘Cruiser’s performance was hardly affected, but the lively rear leaves transmitted dynamic inputs from the trailer. After-market suspension specialists can moderate the standard suspension b ehaviour.

Vision of the trailer through the r ear window and the old-fashioned flat mirrors was OK, but surely Toyota could improve on door-mounted frames that let the mirrors jerk out of alignment whenever a door was opened and shut.

The V8 could pull taller, 3.91:1 final drives than the previous 4.11:1 diffs, but engine revs at legal cruising speeds were still too high (2600rpm at 110km/h) so fuel consumption was at best 12.5L/100km . Our tow test saw fuel consumption climb to 16L/100km.

The standard offering of twin 90-litre fuel tanks continued on the  LC78 and 79, but the 76 Series four-door wagon had only 90 litres’ capacity. This ‘new’ four-door 76 Series was a revived, repowered and slightly rebodied wagon, with live front and rear axles, marketed years ago in some markets as a Prado, but closer to being a four-door version of the Bundera, with leaf rear springs.

Toyota didn’t fit a wider cab to the new 70 Series, so the squeezy-three-seat, bucket plus bench arrangement remained. The GLX ute models had twin buckets.

The interior and dashboard remained virtually unchanged from the old 78/79 Series, until the introduction of SRS airbags in 2010.

Already too-high pricing of the 70 Series was held in check, with the LC79 cab/chassis in the $53,490-$56,490 range and the LC78 Troopie ranging from $58,890 to $61,490. The four-door LC76 wagon was priced from $53,990.

Air con was an expensive $2640, but the double-diff-lock option was well priced at $2735.

Proper deep-reduction gearing, the fat-tyred GXL rubber and optional front and rear diff locks made the ‘Cruiser extremely competent off-road. Wherever it could get grip it would go. After a drop in tyre pressures of 78 Series and trailer the combo flitted over soft beach sand quite happily.

An ‘idle-up’ switch increases idling revs, primarily to improve cold-start warm-up times, but makes a substitute hand-throttle for rough-terrain driving. At around 1500rpm the big V8 allows the ‘Cruiser to idle over most obstacles.

The factory-fitted diff locks worked quickly and effectively in demanding conditions, unlike the older Toyota designs that took too long to engage. They’re not a retro-fit possibility, because the axle housings are different.


Previous models

The 75 Series was introduced in January 1985, replacing the ubiquitous 45 Series. The existing petrol and diesel engines carried over into the new models. Toyota offered well-sorted vehicles with the right spec’ for most applications, but the base-model front seats were a pretty ordinary bucket-plus-bench arrangement.

Despite its working class vocation, the 75 Series was easy to operate, with all controls well-positioned and functional. The across-vehicle rear seat on RV models was a tad featureless and unsupportive, but vision was quite good from this rear perch.

The Toyota options list for the 75 was comprehensive: air conditioning, a second, 90-litre fuel tank (later made standard), electro-pneumatic differential locks and a snorkel, so many used machines are fitted with some or all of these.

In November 1989, the 2H pushrod diesel was replaced by the overhead-camshaft 1HZ 4.2-litre, rated at 89kW at 4000rpm and 271Nm at 2000rpm. Optional, vacuum-operated diff locks were added to the specification. The factory diff locks can’t be retrofitted and still can’t on the 78/79 Series, because the diff-lockable axle tubess, their internals and half-shafts are unique parts.

The next upgrade was in November 1992, when the 1FZ-FE twin-cam, 24-valve petrol six was introduced. At the same time, all the 75 Series scored four-wheel discs, complete with drum-in-rear-disc parking brakes, in place of the previous tail shaft drum brake. The diff lock actuation method changed to electro-mechanical.

In March 1995, the diesel was given a minor rework and a power increase, up to 96kW.


78/79 Series introduction

Toyota upgraded the 75 Series to 78/79 level in 1999 with coil springs at the front end and longer leaves at the back. The petrol engine option was dropped. The existing diesel engine was upgraded and fitted with a high-altitude compensator, to reduce rich-running and oil contamination.

The engine was mated to an improved, lighter-shifting five-speed transmission and there was also a new clutch, with reduced pedal effort. The 78 Series was fitted with shorter-geared, 4.3:1 final drive ratios in the axles, to improve performance and top-gear flexibility.

The 78 Series’ coil-sprung front end was derived from the 100 Series wagon range and incorporated larger-diameter disc brakes with four-pot callipers.

Rear leaf spring length on all 78 models was increased by 172 mm, for longer wheel travel and improved ride comfort, and an anti-sway bar was made standard on Troop Carrier models. The leading spring hanger was positioned lower than the 75 Series hanger, to reduce the rear-axle steering effect inherent in leaf spring arrangements.

Low-pressure gas-charged dampers were fitted front and rear.

The 2002 year model 78 Series could be ordered with a lower compression ratio version of the 100 Series’ turbo-diesel, minus that engine’s intercooler. The 1HD-FTE diesel six put out 122kW at 3400rpm, with peak torque of 380Nm between 1400rpm and 2600rpm.

Because of the new engine’s greater torque Toyota was able to use 4.1 final drive ratios on most models, with only the 11-seat Troop Carrier turbo-diesel model having 4.3:1 diffs.

The 78 Series ute had a 200 mm wheelbase increase over the 75 Series and a 120 mm increase in cabin length, for more interior space.

The five-stud wheel pattern introduced on the 100 Series was used on the 78/79 Series. Toyota claimed greater wheel clamping power from the new arrangement, which had thicker, 14 mm studs and a larger-diameter pitch circle.

The 78 Series didn’t receive any significant bodywork changes with the turbo introduction, but the previously optional snorkel was made standard equipment.

A new RV-grade cab/chassis was introduced, with bucket seats, carpet, remote central locking, power windows and aluminium wheels.

Internally the 78 Series looked little different from the 75, but the instrument panel integrated the auxiliary fuel tank gauge, rather than its previous location on top of the dashboard. The new panel had backlit electronic instruments, a digital odometer with two trip meters, and warning lamps for door ajar, fuel filter condition and, in the case of snorkel-equipped models, air cleaner restriction.

The factory differential locks and snorkel options were retained for the 78 Series, and front and rear bars, spotlights and a Superwinch were added to the options list.

Toyota resales ensure you’ll pay plenty for a used 70 Series.


Used 75 Series

The twin-cam 4.5-litre petrol engine was almost overkill in the 75 Series, while the diesel slogger was one of the best low-speed, off-road engines ever made. For most used 75 Series buyers the diesel is the preferred engine, blending reasonable performance with acceptable economy around 12-13 L/100 km. The big petrol engine drank like a sailor and usually returned no better than 16-20 L/100 km.

The plus side of the crude leaf-spring equation was a suspension that was very reliable in tough conditions and easily repaired in the bush. What the 75 Series lacked in wheel travel, it provided in controlled chassis twist, so a well-driven 75 was very capable in demanding off-road conditions.

Leaf-spring suspension relegated the 75 Series to a rough ride on all but smooth blacktop or dirt. Since ride quality wasn’t exactly the 75’s strongest point, many used vehicles have various suspension mods intended to improve the situation.

The base-model 5.50×16 split rims are popular with cockies, councils, government departments and mining companies, but most recreational users fit widies and tubed or tubeless one-piece wheels.

The stock limited slip diff was weak in comparison with the Patrol’s, so serious off-roaders normally opted for diff locks. The factory diff lock actuation was complicated, however, and there was often a delay in getting the locks to engage, which is why the design was progressively changed to full-electric operation.

The 75 Series’ engine bay had an unusual tapered shape, which caused some dramas for operators in hotter parts of the country. Airflow through the radiator wasn’t as good as it might be, which wasn’t a problem most of the time, but could be if owners extracted more grunt from the diesel engine by turbocharging it.


Used 78/79 Series

The LandCruiser 78 Series wasn’t planned as a revolutionary development, but an evolutionary one. Payload capacity, off-road and rough-road ability, and powertrain and driveline simplicity were preserved.

Revised seats and the coil-sprung front end improved ride quality out of sight. Even empty, the Troop Carrier had balanced handling, albeit with a stiffer feel from the back end than the front. With a half-load in the back the ride was reasonable, even over corrugations.

The upgraded engine didn’t smoke. It would cough up a blue puff on a cold morning, but the rest of the time it ran with almost a clear exhaust. That augured well for slightly extended oil service intervals, because the 78 Series didn’t dump as much soot into its engine oil as the 75 did.

On-road ability was enhanced by the additional engine urge and cog-swapping in the revised gearbox was much sweeter.

Toyota claimed a five percent fuel consumption bonus for the 78 Series over the 75, but we were unable to measure the difference when testing the 78.

We tested the naturally-aspirated 78 Series against a factory-turbocharged, 4.2-litre Nissan Patrol GU and found that the Toyota wasn’t far behind the Nissan, despite a significant on-paper advantage to the Patrol.

Off-road the 78 Series was a better performer than the 75 Series, thanks to greatly improved engine response, lower-speed gearing and better wheel travel front and rear. Ride harshness was noticeably less on rough surfaces. Even the non-turbo 75 and 78/79 models were capable on-road solo vehicles, and there are many 1HZ 78/79s in the used market that have been successfully turbocharged.

The factory-turbo 78 Series had impressive performance and top-gear flexibility that the naturally-aspirated engine couldn’t match. Highway hills that sent the naturally-aspirated model into fourth gear wouldn’t force the turbo version out of fifth.

Because of the new engine’s greater torque the 4.1 final drive ratio on all but the 11-seat Troop Carrier turbo-diesel model let the 78/79 lope along in fifth at 110 km/h with 2600 rpm showing on the tacho.

We found that low-speed, off-road crawling performance wasn’t affected by the final drive ratio change, because the new engine had ample torque, even when the turbo wasn’t spinning at optimum boost revs. Toyota tuned the engine’s torque curve to be almost flat from 1400 rpm to 2600 rpm, so off-road behaviour was very stable, with no sudden torque surges.

Used current-model, V8-diesel-powered models have a huge performance advantage over their six-cylinder predecessors, but could really do with a six-speed box to drop engine revs at cruising speeds.


Mechanical issues

Mechanically, 70 Series lasted well, although the part time 4WD driveline was easily abused. Many working 70s spent much of their time in 4WD, even on hard surfaces, so transfer case and differential problems were common. Transfer case bearings and front tail shaft splines are prone to wear.

Swivel hubs, bearings and seals need regular attention, as do the gearbox lever bushes.

Rear disc callipers are prone to failure and the V8 seems to be a bit much for the old transmission, sometimes causing premature wear.

Later model front diff housings bend, like coil-sprung Patrol axles used to do.

After-market turbocharged 1HZ engines seem to last well, provided oil drains have been done every 5000km.


Bush Modifications

Toyota 70 Series rear leaves sag quickly when loaded, so an after-market suspension is essential. The factory-fitted diff locks give excellent traction, but a pair of after-market, driver-controlled diff locks can be fitted to those vehicles that don’t have factory locks. The Toyota factory locks cannot be retro-fitted, because the diff lock axle housings are different.

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