BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS LARGE
The Troop Carrier received significant upgrades in 2017, with improved gearbox ratios and more dynamic and passive safety. However, some irritants remain.
Market pressure – mainly from fleet buyers – for best-practice dynamic and passive safety has dictated much more electronic equipment in the MY 2017 vehicles that were launched in October 2016.
The current machine has 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 is oil drain periods of 10,000km, out from the six cylinder’s 5000km.
The 4.5-litre V8 is under-stressed in 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’s 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!
We can imagine this will be a big problem for owners who trickle along bush tracks or around properties at idle revs, with low exhaust temperatures.
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 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.
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 21 st 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’s iPod and Android compatible.
At the same time ABS brakes were fitted and all GXL models scored standard differentia 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 has been forced to improve passive safety of the single-cab ute version to retain its mining and government customers, yet the company hasn’t put the same degree of safety into the wagon and Troopy variants that don’t get a five-star safety rating.
Toyota has also continue to turn a blind eye to the narrow-track rear axle issue.
We welcome the addition of vehicle stability control; active traction control; hill-start assist control; brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.
Also welcome is cruise control, so the 70 Series is now no longer the only vehicle on the market – including trucks – that doesn’t have it.
Toyota claims improved fuel economy from the Euro V engine, which we doubt very much: if there is any economy improvement it’ll come 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 is 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 now that the ‘real’ Patrol is no more.
Sensibly, the split-rim wheel is no more: replaced by tubeless steel 6Jx16 wheels, shod with 225/95R16 tyres.
Pricing is horrific, as we’ve come to expect from Toyota. The Workmate is $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 doesn’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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.