BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS MEDIUM
The LandCruiser 76 Series is essentially a shrunken Troop Carrier with class-leading performance and good towing ability.
The development of the LandCruiser 76 Series wagon seemed odd to us at first, because we thought it would surely overlap with the base-model 200 on its release, but Toyota in 2007 didn’t have a base-model 200.
Launched in March 2007 the LandCruiser 76 Series was essentially a smaller Troop Carrier.
Its shed was old: the front of the LandCruiser 76 wagon was new metal, but it faired into bodywork that dated back to the Bundera 70 Series two-door wagon. This shortie evolved into the four-door LandCruiser II, or ‘Prado’ as it was called in some markets, and was never officially sold here. There are a few ‘grey’ imports of these four-doors Down Under; mostly with four-cylinder turbo-diesel power.
Beneath the cobbled-together, box-shaped body the 70 Series DNA stream continued with live front and rear axles, box-section, ladder-frame chassis and the coil-front, leaf-rear suspension introduced with the first 78/79 Series in 1999.
When launched, that time warp extended inside the 76 wagon, where the dashboard and controls had changed little in the past 20 years The CD/radio was MP3 compatible, but sound quality was in the AWA Diamond Dot era. A positive was the metal dash into which it’s very easy to screw brackets for bush essentials such as GPS units, sat-phones and radios. There was cloth-covered seating for five and a choice of vinyl (Workmate) or carpet (GXL) floor covering.
In 2010 Toyota fitted driver and passenger SRS airbags to the entire 70 Series range. The airbag package included telescopic steering column adjustment and a new four-spoke urethane steering wheel.
The audio system was completely revised (thank heaven) and the LandCruiser 76 picked up a double-DIN head unit with AM/FM tuner, single CD with MP3 capability, USB input that also allowed iPod control and a 3.5mm audio input jack. It also offered Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and audio streaming with compatible products.
The dashboard was improved with a face-lifted appearance, revised instrument cluster and the addition of a bottle holder next to the gear-shift lever. However, air conditioning remained an option.
Under the Toyota’s intercooler bonnet bulge sat a 4.5-litre V8 diesel, matched to a strengthened version of the 78/79 transmission.
The big Toyota donk had lazy output of 151kW at 3200-3400rpm and 430Nm on tap from way down at 1200rpm, up to 3200rpm. The engine was capable of at least 50 percent more power and torque, but had been detuned for the 70 Series, in view of its working-vehicle vocation and in deference to the torque limits of the driveline and the definitely non-sporting nature of the running gear.
This electronically-controlled V8 turbo-intercooled diesel 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 Troopy, 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 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 2010 LandCruiser 76 had remote central locking, power windows and bucket front seats in GXL, or an awful bucket, plus 1.5-seat bench in the Workmate.
was a $2640 option. The GXL 76 had aluminium wheels with tubeless tyres, but the Workmate had split rims with tubed 7.50R1
The LandCruiser had a part-time 4×4 system, with manually lockable front hubs and a rear limited-slip differential, but could be fitted ex-factory with
optional ($2735) front and rear differential locks.
Unlike the longer-wheelbase Troop Carrier the 76 had only a single 90-litre capacity fuel tank. The 76 Series was rated to haul a 3500kg braked trailer.
At launch the Toyota LandCruiser 76 Workmate Wagon had a recommended retail price of $53,990 and the GXL Wagon was priced at $57,490. Add aircon and diff locks and the Workmate climbs to $59,365, with the GXL at a heady $62,865.
In late 2016 the 76 Series received major upgrades and the engine was brought up to Euro V emission levels. 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 Troopy engine engine was ‘upgraded’ 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 was a big problem for owners who trickled 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.
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.
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 hadn’t put the same degree of safety into the 76 wagon and Troopy variants that didn’t get a five-star safety rating.
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, because 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 Euro V engine, which we doubt very much: if there was any improvement it came 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 now that the ‘real’ Patrol was no more.
Sensibly, the split-rim wheel was gone: 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 $60,990 and the GXL, $64,990, 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 : 4WD Mods – Powertrain/Dana axle for 70 series V8 models – March 2016 and 4WD Mods – Powertrain/e Tru Tracker wide-track kit for LandCruiser 70s
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 wagon $67,400
and GXL wagon $71,500.
70th Anniversary model
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.
On and off-road in the post-2010 model
The LandCruiser 76 GXL’s driver’s seat was reasonably supportive and OK for long-distance cruising. Switches and controls were much the same as they were 20 years ago, along the lines of, ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’.
The 76 Series certainly needed a taller overdrive than the 0.881:1 it had, because the big V8 didn’t need 2600rpm to maintain legal cruising speed.
The LandCruiser has different-height front and rear roll centres, fixed-rate front coil springs and variable-rate leaf rears, plus a 95mm difference in front and rear axle track, so its handling can become quirky on bumpy surfaces.
However, the 265/70R16s on the GXL provided much better ride and handling than the skinny 7.50R16s on the Workmate.
The ‘Cruiser has ample engine torque at low revs and an ‘idle-up’ button that raises idle revs to 1200rpm. With that engaged it will ‘walk’ up a 25-degree, rutted slope without any accelerator input at all.
Economy depends very much on driving style, load, speed and location, but our testing of different 76s has shown that in mixed-cycle on and off road use the 76 will use 12-16L/100km.
No previous 76 Series, but check out used Troop Carriers.
There’s a host of after-market gear for the 78/79 Series and most of that kit will fit the 76 Series. Bush essentials are an after-market long-range fuel tank and after-market diff locks if the factory ones aren’t fitted (they cannot be retro-fitted).
The rear leaves don’t like heavy loads and need replacing if much bush equipment is going aboard, or heavy ball weights. Many bush-prepared 76s will score 50mm lift kits, which improve off-road clearance markedly.