It’s finally here. After 14 years of the 200 Series LandCruiser, is this new Toyota LandCruiser 300 a big enough step forward?
- New 3.3-litre diesel V6 and 10-speed automatic is a better performer overall
- Interior is comfortable, ergonomic and well thought through, with loads of space in the first two rows
- Off-road capability improved and easier to find thanks to impressive traction-control software
- It’s a fair jump in asking price compared to the 200 Series LandCruiser
- Some plastic underbody protection won’t last long
- Third row is a little cramped for adults
The all-new 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series. It’s the most highly anticipated car of the year, and the next chapter in the story of the LandCruiser lineage. There isn’t another model with the same kind of respect and loyalty in Australia, with an enviable reputation that dates back to the LandCruiser’s first arrival in 1963.
On the flip-side of that, there are no bigger boots to fill than those of the incumbent LandCruiser. It’s a vehicle that Toyota pins much of its success on. Not just in Australia – where the LandCruiser first cut its teeth – but around the world.
Those waiting for the new LandCruiser have been patient. The 200 Series has been steadfastly serving as Toyota’s flagship off-roader for almost 15 years. And while it has finally arrived, the bad news is that stymied production capabilities mean the size of the waiting list for the 300 Series will also be quite legendary.
And in a world of increasingly urban usage, tighter emissions requirements and ever-evolving customer demands, the basic recipe of the classically simple turbo-diesel Toyota LandCruiser is under fire.
Being big, tough, comfy and capable isn’t good enough any more. And while previous generations of the LandCruiser had some of the most reliable powertrains, the modern requirements of a diesel engine mean those days of mechanical simplicity are a thing of the past.
While the 300 Series LandCruiser is literally new from the ground up, much of the design has gone by unchanged. Key markers like length, width, height and wheelbase carry over from the 200 Series LandCruiser. And even if the ladder chassis remains underneath with similar suspension designs, this is the first example of Toyota’s new ‘GA-F’ body-on-frame architecture.
That new platform – shared with the 2022 Toyota Tundra – teams up with aluminium panels to shave around 90kg from the kerb weight of the 300 Series LandCruiser. The new powertrain is lighter as well, lower-slung and mounted further backward in the chassis. This means the centre of gravity is improved.
And with lower weights, the payload of the LandCruiser 300 Series has been improved a little. The lower kerb weight has been joined by a slightly lower gross vehicle mass (GVM), but payloads have been moderately improved.
One thing that can’t be escaped is the increase in price. Whereas the 200 Series LandCruiser started from $80,873 before on-road costs, that opening price has crept up by nearly $10,000. The GXL, usually seen as the volume seller of the range, has broken into six figures at $101,790 before on-road costs.
|GX||GXL||VX||Sahara||Sahara ZX||GR Sport|
|Wheels/tyres||245/75R17 steel||265/65R18 alloy||265/65R18 alloy||265/65R18 alloy||265/55R20 alloy||265/65R18 alloy|
|Seating||5 (cloth)||7 (cloth)||7 (synthetic)||7 (leather)||5 (leather)||5 (leather)|
|Headlights||LED||LED||Projector bi-LED||Projector bi-LED||Projector bi-LED||Projector bi-LED|
Just like all of the new stuff underneath fresh sheetmetal, the interior of the new LandCruiser is a redesign from scratch. But once again, there are more than a few familiarities going on here. Interior space is overall quite similar, with the near 5m length yielding plenty of room across the first and second rows.
There is a real sense of classic Toyota going on here. If somebody blindedfolded you before bundling you into the car, you could quickly figure out that you’re in a LandCruiser. Some switchgear is lifted from the well-used parts bin of other Toyotas over the years, but important and common touchpoints have some nice, chunky touches going on. The centre console sits much higher in the LandCruiser 300 Series, and the dashboard also feels a lot more prominent as it juts outwards.
The mode-select dial and associated buttons for your on-road and off-road driving modes are intuitive to use and fall to hand quite easily while driving.
An infotainment display – either 9.0 or 12.3 inches in size – sits atop the collection of air-conditioning controls, with Toyota clearly opting for the practicality of physical buttons over screens and touchpads. It’s a good idea as well, feeling easy to use after only a moment of acclimatisation.
Storage is decent, with a big two-level glovebox, plus cupholders and big door cards for bottles. GX and GXL specifications get some additional dashboard storage, with a space where the CD player lives in higher grades being quite handy for keys and wallets.
GX has things like rubber floor mats, the same number of power outlets as higher specs and, of course, no chilled centre console. GXL picks up a wireless charging pad, and VX onwards gets things like electric leather seats.
The cloth seating material in GX and GXL looks to be a very similar soft, untextured material as you’d find in previous-generation LandCruisers. It’s plenty comfortable enough and probably going to last the test of time as well.
A mixture of hard and soft plastics and other materials around the interior – which gets progressively more premium as you head higher up the ranks – feels all very good quality and well put together on first impressions.
Then the familiar fancy stuff – like a chilled centre console and rear entertainment screens – comes into play towards the top of the tree.
In terms of space, the second row offers boatloads of headroom and legroom; big adults can fit in without any issues. Higher specifications get a fold-down armrest in the second row with additional cupholders, and the amount of air-conditioning controls also varies depending on the specification. But in terms of space and comfort in the second row, it’s the same story as the 200 Series LandCruiser (and the Nissan Patrol, for that matter) – very good.
Power outlets in the second row include 12V and two USB-C points, putting more nails in the coffin of the old-school USB-A.
GXL, VX and Sahara specifications come with a third row as standard, something that the GX, Sahara ZX and GR Sport don’t have. There are air vents, USB-C power outlets and cupholders in the third row, which has something of a unique folding mechanism to save on space.
The tilting backrest is a bit of a godsend for the third row, which feels a bit lacking in terms of legroom and headroom. It’s not as good as other large SUVs with fewer off-road credentials, but eating into some extra cargo space while tilting backwards does help.
Load space – especially as a five-seater – is impressive at 1131L for two-row LandCruisers. Having a third row folded down robs a little over 100L of space with 1004L on offer, while having room for seven on board leaves only 175L for bags.
|2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series|
|Seats||Five or seven|
|Boot volume||Five-seat: 1131L/2052L Seven-seat: 175L/1004L/1967L|
Infotainment and Connectivity
Out with the old and in with the new. That’s a good thing in this case, because infotainment and connectivity were far from strong points for the 200 Series LandCruiser in 2021.
For the 300 Series LandCruiser, the infotainment system comes in two flavours. A smaller 9.0-inch display is used for the GX and GXL grades offering Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (both via wired connection) and digital radio. The hardware and software are similar to what you will find in many other Toyota vehicles, with buttons and dials on each side of the display to help with control.
The larger system is 12.3 inches in size, with a strong landscape orientation to the display and built-in navigation.
This larger display hasn’t got room for buttons up top, so piano-style buttons sit below the air-conditioning controls. A smaller detail here – which will be important to some – is that the volume dial gets substituted for buttons. So to turn the volume down quickly, you need to mash buttons like you’re playing Tekken.
This larger display also picks up bigger sound systems – 10-speaker for VX and 14-speaker for Sahara, Sahara ZX and GR Sport – and a CD player, which seems quaint in this day and age of music streaming.
Naturally, these improvements are monumental against the previous-generation LandCruiser, and put the 300 Series LandCruiser in a much higher technological echelon in comparison to the dated arch-nemesis, the Y62 Nissan Patrol.
There are some classic LandCruiser ingredients in the multifunction display like oil pressure and battery voltage meters, and the usual mix of readouts otherwise.
Once again, VX and up get a larger amount of pixels in this regard: 7.0 inches and more digital functionality, versus 4.2 old-fashioned inches in GX and GXL. It’s also nice to see the idle-up button stick around, even if I’ve never had to use one.
Tyre pressure monitoring – a more common feature these days – seems like it should be included in a car like the LandCruiser 300 Series. But alas, it is missing.
It’s also worth pointing out here that unlike many other large SUVs and four-wheel drives of this size and price, Toyota has stuck with analogue gauges and hasn’t stuck in a fully digital instrument cluster in any grade. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the LandCruiser’s instrument binnacle is clear and effective.
Safety inclusions get a big move forward with this generation LandCruiser, with autonomous emergency braking working for pedestrians (day/night) and cyclists (day). This system includes intersection turn assistance, but emergency steering assistance is only available on VX and above.
The LandCruiser’s combined hydraulic/electric steering system allows the use of lane tracing, and the adaptive cruise control works in stop-start traffic.
Other good stuff includes parking sensors, reversing camera, surround-view camera on VX and above, 10 airbags (including third-row airbags where applicable), lane-departure alert, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitor, and automatic high beam.
VX specification and above also get ‘Parking Support Brake’, which is a kind of low-speed autonomous braking in forward and reverse when the vehicle detects a potential collision.
And if there is a prang, the LandCruiser is able to connect to emergency services via the Toyota Connected Services. It can also operate via an SOS button and track the location of the vehicle if it is stolen.
Being so new, the LandCruiser 300 Series is yet to be crash-tested and scored by the local crash-testing authority ANCAP.
With roughly $10,000 added to the asking price over the 200 Series LandCruiser, value for money with this new LandCruiser will mean different things to different people.
On one hand, it’s about the same size as its older and cheaper predecessor, carries a similar mechanical layout underneath, but has fewer pistons under the bonnet. Nissan’s Patrol will offer a similar size and performance – albeit with thirstier petrol power – for significantly less money. Other options like the Land Rover Defender and Discovery, as well as the Ineos Grenadier (soon), will offer credible alternatives for some.
Not others, however. LandCruiser or bust for many keen Australian buyers.
And for them I’m sure the improvements in the standard offerings and technology – things like additional power outlets, more advanced infotainment displays, a better-performing powertrain, and all of the advanced safety technology – justify the price hike. This is a large premium four-wheel drive at the end of the day, and something that many Australians aspire to.
The LandCruiser has been sold on those four rungs of specification (GX, GXL, VX and Sahara) for many years, with the high-end Horizon joining the game towards the end of the 200 Series production.
This has been shaken up for the 300 Series LandCruiser, with two new specifications sitting atop the Sahara nameplate. GR Sport gets a unique exterior treatment with a heritage-inspired grille and improved clearances, as well as e-KDSS suspension, front and rear diff lockers, and some unique interior treatments.
There’s also the Sahara ZX, which is more urban-focussed on the outside, and sporting things like a body kit and Torsen limited-slip rear differential.
For the first time, base GX specification will be able to appeal to more than the small, hardcore group of 4×4 tourers and fleet buyers. It’s got the right mix of interior specification and there is plenty to like about it. And while none of the LandCruiser range will be regarded as a leader of price and value for money, the $90,000 before on-road costs GX has the best chance of holding water in that regard.
The warranty offering of the LandCruiser is good at unlimited kilometres and five years, with an extra two years of engine driveline warranty when serviced to Toyota’s schedule.
While service intervals are kept at six months (increasing the cost relative to 12-month intervals), the LandCruiser’s cap of $375 per visit seems fairly reasonable. Six-month servicing intervals will be overkill for many, but will also suit those who want to use their LandCruisers hard and run a tight ship in terms of servicing.
|At a glance||2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series|
|Warranty||Five years/unlimited km|
|Service intervals||6 months/10,000km|
|Servicing costs||$3750 (5 years)|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||8.9L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||N/A|
|Fuel tank size||110L (80L main tank/30L sub-tank)|
For the first time ever, the LandCruiser has taken a backward step in terms of engine capacity. After the high-tide mark of the 4.5-litre ‘1VD-FTV’ turbo diesel V8, the 2022 LandCruiser 300 Series now gets a new 3.3-litre V6.
An interesting fact here is that the bore and stroke of each cylinder between the V8 and V6 are almost exactly the same. However, the new engine isn’t a version of the old with a couple of cylinders lopped off. The new V6 engine is different in many regards, with the biggest change being the ‘hot vee’ turbocharger configuration placing the turbos inside the valley between the heads.
While 60, 80 and 100 Series LandCruisers used inline-six diesel and (mostly) petrols over the years, the eight cylinders of the 200 Series LandCruiser were the first in a bent configuration.
Turbochargers on the V8 hang on the outside working in parallel. In other words, they are an exact copy of each other feeding four cylinders each. And nestled in the bosom below that top-mounted intercooler is where the intake gear is located.
It’s a different story for the new V6, with the exhaust ports and turbochargers in the middle. They work a bit differently – the first smaller turbocharger operates on its own in the first part of the rev range, before the second turbocharger kicks in.
With both turbos singing, you’ll make 227kW at 4000rpm. That’s 27kW better than the previous generation. Torque is up by 50Nm as well, with 700Nm available between 1600-2600rpm.
This new engine is joined by a new transmission, also developed by Toyota. It’s a 10-speed torque converter gearbox offering a broader range of ratios overall. First gear is noticeably lower at 4.923:1 (200 Series LandCruiser was 3.333:1), while ninth (0.661:1) and tenth (0.613:1) are closely linked together at the top of the ratios.
Combine that lower first gear with the 3.307:1 final drive ratio in the LandCruiser 300 Series, and first gear does work out to be quite a bit lower at 16.28:1. Good for off-the-mark acceleration and handy for off-roading as well.
And that difference in final drive ratio also gives a taller top gear: 2.027:1 versus 2.23:1 in the 200 Series. It’s not a huge difference, but does help keep the revs down while cruising on the highway.
Lighter, more power, more torque, more gear ratios, faster shifting. You don’t need to be Isaac Newton to figure out that this new LandCruiser will be outright faster than the previous generation despite the drop in capacity.
And you can feel that from the seat-of-pants experience. Off the mark, the new LandCruiser feels similar, if slightly more urgent. It’s impressive that Toyota has got this 3.3-litre engine feeling as naturally torquey and responsive off idle as the previous generation, without any sense of artificial eagerness through the throttle or torque converter tuning.
|Key details||2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series|
|Engine||3.3-litre twin-turbo diesel V6|
|Power||227kW @ 4000rpm|
|Torque||700Nm @ 1600-2600rpm|
|Drive type||Full-time four-wheel drive, low-range transfer case|
|Transmission||10-speed torque convertor automatic|
|Tow rating||3500kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
As the revs climb, that’s where the performance of both engines starts to separate noticeably. The V8 was always a muscular performer, but started to feel breathless anywhere above the lower-middle rev range. The new engine starts to pull eagerly and more urgently higher up, feeling particularly good as you eclipse 3000rpm. And while there is an ability to rev up to 4000rpm, you only reach that when really working the LandCruiser hard.
We weren’t able to get a good gauge on fuel economy during this test, because we only had the best part of a day to cycle through six different variants in different conditions. But I can say that indicated fuel economy was between 12 and 14 litres per 100 kilometres after a short stint of stop-start driving through town, but that quickly whittled down to the mid-9L/100km mark after a long highway drive.
Sahara ZX gets adaptive damping and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential for improved on-road handling. And while it is lighter and more responsive overall, this new LandCruiser feels particularly more capable and controlled on the blacktop.
Sahara ZX or not, it’s certainly a much firmer, more tied-down experience in comparison to the 200 Series LandCruiser. I say firm, but I don’t mean crashy or uncomfortable.
The new 300 Series might not have the same amount of outright wallowy bump absorption as the 200 Series LandCruiser, and the ride quality can feel slightly busy over pockmarked city streets at times.
Whereas the old LandCruiser felt like jelly on a plate, this is more like cheesecake. The stiffer chassis and body and superior body control allow for more confidence and grip, and it’s also more communicative of what’s going on underneath.
The overhauled steering system – a combination of a hydraulically powered steering rack and electric actuator – feels wonderfully balanced in terms of comfort and response. There isn’t the same kind of outright lightness at low speeds as something like a new Isuzu MU-X or Ford Everest. But it’s wonderfully balanced – the best word for it – while bustling through town and country alike.
Steering response is a lot sharper, but not razor-sharp enough to feel like hard work. A slight amount of off-centre dead zone allows it to track along quite happily on the highway, for example, without an overbearing need for constant correction.
And when you have that torquey, quiet diesel V6 humming ever so quietly at low revs, you get the sense this new LandCruiser would be a better prospect at crushing bulk kilometres. I wouldn’t say the 200 Series was a laggard in this regard, but the couple of two-hour stints we logged were impressive.
The off-road course at the Toyota LandCruiser Club’s Willowglen property was tricky enough to damage a couple of side steps – with Toyota staff making sharp, fervorous phone calls to organise repairs and replacements. But the challenges weren’t nearly enough to find the limits of the new LandCruiser.
Even the most basic GX specification, with narrower tyres and without the extra technological smarts, felt really composed and capable as it crawled, as slowly as possible, up rutted hills and through empty riverbeds. As is often the case with four-wheel drives that have adept off-road traction-control systems, you’ll run out of clearance well before traction ever becomes a problem.
Underbody protection is decent without being overwhelming, with thin-ish metal standing guard to the back of the lower control arms. There’s some plastic under here that wouldn’t last long in hard work, but skid plates on the fuel tank and transfer case help improve standard bush ability.
Extra off-road gear gets progressively included, until you reach the king off-roader GR Sport. It’s got the new-generation e-KDSS system: hydraulically controlled swaybars that can be evidenced by the thick hydraulic hoses visible in the rear passenger-side wheel arch. This new system controls front and rear swaybars independently and automatically, loosening those up to 715mm of articulation for the GR Sport’s 18-inch alloy wheels.
|2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series|
|Approach angle||32 degrees, 24 degrees for Sahara ZX|
|Departure angle||25 degrees|
|Fuel capacity||110L (80L main, 30L sub)|
|Front suspension||Independent, double-wishbone plus swaybar. GR Sport adds e-KDSS|
|Rear suspension||Four-link, live axle with Panhard rod plus swaybar. GR Sport adds e-KDSS|
|Locking differentials||– Locking centre diff across the range
– GR Sport adds front/rear lockers, adaptive damping
– Sahara ZX adds Torsen LSD rear, adaptive damping
On top of the lockable centre differential that’s needed for a full-time four-wheel drive, the LandCruiser GR Sport also marks the return of locking front and rear differentials. It’s still regarded as the gold standard in off-road traction, but it feels like unnecessary accoutrement in the face of Toyota’s always improving and ever impressive off-road traction-control system.
While you’ll never say no to having the option to mechanically lock all four wheels together, the quality and refinement of the off-road traction-control system means you’ll rarely (if ever) need to press those extra diff lock buttons.
With new hardware and software, traction control is very quick to react. Along with having a variety of driving modes that finesse the traction control, steering, throttle and gearbox calibration to suit the terrain, Auto takes out the guesswork and has enough reaction speed to brake wheels and maintain progress without losing momentum.
Crawl control is well executed and significantly smoother than the previous generation. There is a nice range of speeds, both for downhill assist and low-speed cruise control. It’s also dead easy to operate via that big shiny dial on the dashboard. Turn assist has been refined also, and even though it sounds a little gimmicky, it does work to effectively tighten the turning circle off-road.
And for some extra versatility, you have a selection of off-road driving modes available in high-range as well as low-range.
But don’t forget, GR Sport will still offer up the all-important ultimate bragging rights around the campfire or barbeque: “Yeah mate, twin locked”.
Don’t forget to drive it home with the extra clarification “… triple locked actually, like the 80 Series and G-Class”.
This first drive was a short taste of the LandCruiser’s off-road capability, and was far from exhaustive. But it certainly was impressive.
Naturally, the 300 Series LandCruiser is going to be a popular choice for owners looking to tow. In no small part due to Toyota’s brand reputation and the extensive dealership network.
With that in mind, Toyota had a 21-foot, 2.9-tonne Kedron caravan at the ready for us to test the LandCruiser’s 3500kg towing capabilities. It was a short towing loop, but it was also illuminating.
Firstly, that broad dose of torque, right in the middle of the rev range, is easily accessed and leaned upon when needed. And that much livelier top end helps for accelerating hard or holding speed up a steep hill.
The 10-speed gearbox doesn’t fall into the common trap of shifting around too often. The LandCruiser is smart enough to sense when it is towing, and holds onto the gear ratios longer than normal for smoother, easier driving.
It’s an impressive early indicator of the LandCruiser’s towing prowess, and something we will be exploring more in the future considering the LandCruiser will be lining up against the likes of the Land Rover Defender, Nissan Patrol, Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado for ultimate tow rig bragging rights.
Toyota has managed to walk a fine line with this new LandCruiser, moving it forward in many respects, but also leaving it feeling very similar to the car that it is replacing. This will appeal to many of the die-hard fans of the LandCruiser, when sliding into the driver’s seat will feel like pulling on an old, worn-in boot.
Crucially, it moves the needle forward in all of the respects that it needs to. It’s safer, there is more technology for drivers and passengers alike, and the engine performance outstrips that of the larger V8 it replaces.
I’ve got no doubt the V8 will go down as an all-time great, and it will continue serving as the engine of choice in the 70 Series LandCruiser, albeit with only one turbocharger. And even if you’re a card-carrying, sign-waving member of team V8, I reckon you won’t be able to help but be impressed by the smooth, broad power and performance of this new diesel V6 and 10-speed automatic gearbox.
The ride quality, while perhaps not as pillowy as the 200 Series LandCruiser, is still quite good. It might not be able to match something like a Land Rover Defender in terms of ride quality and general driving ability, but it’s not far off the mark either. In terms of steering, body control and roadholding, it’s much more polished (once again) than the 200 Series.
Unfortunately for many, the waiting list is shaping up to be at least six months, although Toyota has previously indicated a small number of new LandCruiser 300s will be on the road by Christmas this year.
In many regards, the true legacy of this 300 Series LandCruiser will only be earned after truly being put to task by four-wheel drivers, farmers, caravanners and families around Australia. But in terms of a first taste, the 2022 LandCruiser 300 Series does seem to make all of the right noises.