Forgotten about this one? As you will no doubt be aware, Toyota’s Land Cruiser name belongs to a family rather than a single model and this is the granddad: the 70-series, which dates back to 1984 and has just been launched in double-cab form
The 70-series hasn’t quite gone the way of the Land Rover Discovery and become a favourite of film-industry people and architects: it’s still prized more as a tough working vehicle, although you can’t tell me that there isn’t a lot of retro appeal going on there as well. Why else would you pay $79,590 for the top-specification LX double cab featured here, when you could have a Hilux for so much less?
There is one rational reason I guess, and that’s what’s under the bonnet. The 70-series might be fundamentally the same as it was in the Eighties, but a few significant items have been upgraded along the way. In 2007, it picked up the then-new 4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel engine from the latest Land Cruiser 200, albeit with a single turbo instead of two: 151kW/430Nm, with a five-speed manual gearbox.
Awesome is the only word for the aural ambience. Start the 70 up and it rumbles gently, the vehicle gently rocking from side to side. Doesn’t happen in a Hilux.
Naturally, the 70-series is completely kitted-up for hard-core off-roading. The gearbox is dual-range (rear-drive, high or low-range four-wheel drive), there’s the option of locking front and rear differentials and locking front hubs. A 130-litre fuel tank is standard, which ensures decent range even when you’re crawling over rocks in the backblocks.
The double-cab has been brought in because there’s demand. It’s that simple. There’s been a local conversion of the short-wheelbase 70-series to turn it into a double cab ute, but this factory version is based on the longer wheelbase of the so-called troop-carrier version. You’ll notice from some of the more approximate design lines that it uses the rear doors from the five-door wagon, so there’s a bit of everything in there.
While the troop-carrier (otherwise known as the three-door hardtop) is only available in basic grade and the five-door wagon only comes in better-equipped LX specification, the double-cab version can be ordered in either. Extravagances for the LX include 16-inch alloy wheels and remote door unlocking.
All 70-series model have made a massive leap forward in technology with the addition of disc brakes all-round with anti-lock capability. The active-safety braking feature works in high-range only.
Not that we want to suggest the 7-series is going soft or anything, but the cabin has also been upgraded with a new cupholder and 12-volt power supply – which is quite literally an add-on item that’s been bolted to the floor. Hey, whatever works. And the storage unit does have a little slot for your iPod or phone, directly underneath the USB connector for the audio system.
The wagon has gone a step further with better-quality, more comfortable seats that have a greater range of adjustment.
But despite all of that and the retro fashion-appeal of the 70-series, it’s not a potential ‘lifestyle’ vehicle in the way that modern double-cab utes are. The on-road handling is scary, the ride terrible and and turning circle abysmal. You can’t park it anywhere because you can’t see the back of it when you are reversing. And so on.
But the 70-series is a workhorse with a massive V8 engine and staggering off-road ability that’s immune to changes in automotive fashion because it hasn’t really been current for about 20 years. So what’s not to like?