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BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS LARGE

TOYOTA LANDCRUISER TROOP CARRIER
This voluminous wagon scored the HiLux/Prado engine and auto box 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.

 

 

 

Toyota upgraded the 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 the fourth quarter of 2023.

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 joined the V8 turbodiesel/five-speed manual variant.

 

 

The HiLux/Prado’s 2.8-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine generated 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 generated a maximum power of 151kW at 3400rpm and peak torque of 430Nm from 1200rpm to 3200rpm.

However, Toyota’s four-cylinder engine output claims were put under cloud in January 2024.

 

 

The 2.8-litre engine was mated only to the six-speed Aisin automatic transmission and offered in two grades – Workmate and GXL.

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.

 

 

From a visual perspective, the 2024 LandCruiser 70 Series has 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 was also upgraded and featured a 6.7-inch touchscreen on all grades that was compatible with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sound quality, however, 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?

The Troopy bodywork is one of the major reasons Toyota doesn’t want to widen the LC70 range rear axle track to match the front, because that would mean recutting and widening the rear wheel arches.

For 2024 the Troopy stays with the skinny wheel and tyre package as the base model ute, but the vehicle we inspected in Canberra in February 2024 was fitted with Bridgestone D697 tyres in the same narrow size – 225/95R16 – as the ute’s Dunlop Road Grippers.

 

 

Begrudged upgrades

 

Bonnet profiles 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 is rear axle track width that dates back to the 1990s, while the front track was widened to accommodate a V8 diesel in place of the old six.

Toyota Japan 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 70 Series is:

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 kits are standard on Troopys.

We couldn’t get hold of a 2024 Troopy, but we have test reports on the single-cab and 76 Wagon models on the OTA website.

 

 

Pre-2023 models

 

Market pressure – mainly from fleet buyers – for best-practice dynamic and passive safety dictated much more electronic equipment in the MY 2017 vehicles that were launched in October 2016.

The machine had an electronically-controlled
V8 turbo-intercooled diesel, because an electronic engine was necessary to meet Euro IV emissions levels. A plus for the V8 engine was oil drain periods of 10,000km, out from the six cylinder’s 5000km.

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

The principal negatives for this engine are 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 it at 400,000km) and the alternator has never got wet or clogged with mud..

The Troopy engine engine was upgraded to Euro V emissions standard in late 2016 and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) was added. That was not good news, because DPFs fill up with soot unless exhaust temperatures are kept high. Then 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 is 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 was 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 installed modified heat-shields – free of charge to vehicle owners. Toyota Dealers also enabled the DPF manual regeneration customisation mode, which allowed owners to conduct manual regeneration prior to going off-road.

In addition, instructions on removal of accumulated vegetation were 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 powers 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, a mere three-star ANCAP crashworthiness rating (until 2016) and the absence of stability control 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 was horrendous. Unbelievably, it took Toyota until late 2016 to revise the overdrive gear ratio, to drop engine revs to 2200rpm at 110km/h.

When the V8 was introduced the old 75-78 Series front end, with its small grille opening, was 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 95mm 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.

The rest of the machine was virtually unchanged, so the age of the original layout, dating back to the all leaf-sprung 75 Series showed.

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

Cab developments

In the early 2000s the very high retail price of the LandCruiser 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 models, 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.

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

The base-model 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 was forced to improve passive safety of the single-cab ute version to retain its mining and government customers, yet the company didn’t put the same degree of safety into the wagon and Troopy variants that didn’t get a five-star safety rating.

Toyota has also continued to turn a blind eye to the narrow-track rear axle issue.

We welcomed the addition of vehicle stability control; active traction control; hill-start assist control; brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.

Also welcomed was cruise control, so the 70 Series was no longer the only vehicle on the market – including trucks – that didn’t have it.

Toyota claimed improved fuel economy from the Euro V engine, which we doubted very much: if there was any economy improvement it came from finally 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.

The ‘new’ huge were exactly the same hubs that were fitted to Nissan Patrols 20 years ago, so maybe Toyota picked up some old stock now that the ‘real’ Patrol is no more.

Sensibly, the split-rim wheel was no more: replaced by tubeless steel 6Jx16 wheels, shod with 225/95R16 tyres.

Pricing was horrific, as we’ve come to expect from Toyota. The Workmate was $64,890 and the GXL, $67,990, 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.

Those who can’t live with the narrow-track rear axle have two wide-track, legal choices : a Dana replacement rear axle or a Tru Tracker wide-track kit.

 

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 troop carrier $71,350 and GXL troop carrier $74,550.

 

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 benefitted from 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 enabled Toyota to increase the GVM to more than 3500kg, supporting a useful increase in payload.

 

 

Previous versions

Toyota unveiled the long-awaited successor to the 78/79 Series in 2007. Toyota stuck with its policy of making as few changes as possible to its LandCruiser workhorse range.

The aged, in-line diesel six couldn’t meet 2007’s mandatory Euro IV emissions targets, so was replaced by an all-new V8, common-rail-injected diesel.

The 4.5-litre V8 was under-stressed in the 70 Series, putting out a mild 151kW at 3400rpm, with 430Nm in the 1200-3200rpm band.

These figures were improvements over the previous turbo six’s122 kW at 3400rpm, with peak torque of 380Nm between 1400rpm and 2600rpm, but they weren’t massive increases. That is probably just as well, given the few changes that were made to the chassis and suspension, and the absence of any stability control or even ABS brakes.

Toyota Troop Carrier A plus for the new engine was oil drain periods of 10,000km, out from the six cylinder’s 5000km.

The 75-78 Series ‘veed’ front end with its small grille opening was widened to accept the V8 engine with its much larger radiator. The front track was also increased, but not the rear. Aluminium-wheel models had nearly 100mm track difference between front and rear axles.

The V8 could easily pull taller, 3.91:1 final drives than the previous 4.11:1 diffs. The standard offering of twin 90-litre fuel tanks continued on the new LC78 and 79.

Toyota didn’t fit a wider cab to the new 70 Series, so the squeezy-three-seat, bucket plus bench arrangement remained on base models, but GLX 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.

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

On the open road the LandCruiser could certainly do with a taller overdrive than the 0.881:1 it had, because engine revs at legal cruising speeds were still too high (2600rpm at 110km/h) so fuel consumption was at best 12.5L/100km

The LandCruiser had different-height front and rear roll centres, fixed-rate front coil springs and variable-rate leaf rears, plus a 100mm difference in front and rear axle track, so its handling could become quirky on bumpy surfaces. However, a set of 265/70R16s as fitted to GXL utes and 76 wagons provided much better ride and handling than the skinny 7.50R16s on the Troopy.

Low-range gearing was an unremarkable 44:1, but there was ample engine torque at low revs and an ‘idle-up’ button raised idle revs to 1200rpm. With that engaged it would idle up a 25-degree, rutted slope without any accelerator input at all.

The factory diff locks were electrically engaged and worked very well.

 

Previous Models

Toyota upgraded the 75 Series Troop Carrier 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 and the existing 1HZ diesel engine was upgraded and fitted with a high-altitude compensator, to reduce rich-running and oil contamination.

Toyota Troop Carrier 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, 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.

The revised seats, coil-sprung front end and new, larger-braked front axle improved ride quality out of sight. We feared that the relatively soft front end might ‘laugh’ at the rugged, leaf-sprung back end, but it didn’t work out like that. Even empty, our test TroopCarrier 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 excellent, even over corrugations.

The upgraded engine didn’t smoke. We could get a blue puff out of it on a cold morning, but the rest of the time it ran with almost a clear exhaust. That augured well for extended oil service intervals, because the 78-Series wasn’t dumping as much soot into its engine oil.

 

On and Off-road

Toyota Troop Carrier On-road ability was enhanced by the additional engine urge and cog-swapping in the revised gearbox was car-like. We tested the naturally-aspirated 78 Series against a factory-turbocharged 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.

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

 

Bush Modifications

Toyota Troop Carrier Toyota 70 Series rear leaves sag quickly when loaded, so an after-market suspension is essential.

Factory diff locks give excellent traction, but a pair of driver-controlled diff locks is ideal for those that don’t have factory locks, which cannot be retro-fitted, because the factory diff-locked axles are different from the standard axles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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