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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor

How to get a Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR-S stuck in the mud

Fortunately, the ‘Master of Africa’s’ terrain system is clever enough to get this 2.5-ton cruiseliner out of any sticky situation.

The Toyota Land Cruiser 300 has been one of the most anticipated cars of 2021. There were spy pics, leaked pics and then at last the final product was shown. And the more adventurous and well-heeled among us went bananas for it.

Even though you would need to part with close on R2-million for a LC 300, we were told there is a rather long waiting list to get your hands on one.

I did a quick search around the internet and couldn’t find one for sale at a Toyota dealership. There are a few with delivery type mileage on the clock at private dealerships, and these are going for comfortably over R2-million such is the demand for this “Master of Africa”.

Petrol or diesel?

But lucky for us, Toyota have media test units in their fleet and our Editor, Jaco van der Merwe, got to spend some time with the slightly more on-road orientated ZX model in 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol guise.

I got the more off-road inclined GR Sport (GR-S) that has the new 3.3-litre turbo V6 diesel under the bonnet. PS: You can get a ZX with the diesel and the GR-S with the petrol in case you were wondering.

By now, I think you have seen all the pictures you want to see of the Land Cruiser 300 in all its shapes and forms, and you are either going to be a ZX guy or a GR-S guy.

ALSO READ: 2.6-ton Toyota Land Cruiser 300 petrol outsprints Golf 6 GTI!

I am a GR-S guy. I love the Gazoo Racing touches, but what I am not, is an off-road expert, that the GR-S is all about under the skin. And that leads me to my somewhat traumatic experience with the GR-S.

Up front is that stonking new diesel engine that I mentioned earlier. It produces a very decent 227 kW of power and a proper helping of torque at 700 Nm. It’s the kind of output that sees this 2.5-ton full-size seven-seater being able to go over anything with absolute ease.


In fact, not only did it annihilate South Africa’s favourite bakkies, its sibling the Toyota Hilux and the Ford Ranger, in our road test, but also the high-acclaimed 190 kW Volkswagen Amarok V6 TDI.

The Land Cruiser 300 3.3D took an impressive 8.07 seconds to go from 0 to 100 km/h, where the Amarok recorded 8.14 seconds. Not bad for a seven-seater cruiseliner.

Driving it around the urban jungle and on the freeways that link these chaotic places, I never felt like I needed more from this turbodiesel.

As a bonus, despite never trying to save fuel, and doing a lot of stop/start driving, I recorded an average fuel consumption figure of 11.5-litres per 100 km. This will see you get close to 1 000 km from the 110 litres of the dual tanks, and quite a bit more than this on the open road.

Into the wild

But where it started to go all wrong was when I left the safety of tar roads and took the Land Cruiser 300 out into the wild. The very thing the Master of Africa is known for; going anywhere and never getting stuck.

Being a man and a motoring journalist means that one, I never ask for directions, I would rather be lost for days and die painfully from starvation than concede I have no idea where I am going.

Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport
Preparing to bog down

And two, I never check the owner’s manual to see exactly what every button inside the car does or how whatever new fang dangled system works. If you can’t figure it out after a drive around the block, then it is clearly too complicated for the average person, or it is not that important.

So, while truly believing the GR-S would go anywhere I would ever take it, I confidently ventured out onto a piece of dirt road to get a few nice pics of my test car in its home environment. I mean at this stage any sort of off-roader is not even paying attention, and nor was I, this is a Land Cruiser 300 after all, and I had no fear of a bit of dirt.

It’s only a puddle…

And along this dirt road I came across a small puddle of water and mud in front of me that would be absolutely no challenge to a bespoke off-road model like the GR-S. Well other than not trying to get the wheels of the car too dirty.

So, into this puddle I trundled without a care in the world, right up to the part where the LC 300 GR-S simply sank up to its door sills in slippery clay-like mud. The traction control kicked in and cut the throttle and buried me right there and then.

I switched off the traction control, because I knew how to do that, and I tried to power my way out of my puddle. No chance. The wheels just spun mud all up the side of the LC300 GR-S and dug me in deeper.

Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport
GR Sport interior

Are you kidding me? I was about to become the first person in the world to get a Land Cruiser stuck. And at that, one that offers 18-inch wheels, increased ground clearance and a thing called e-KDSS which is an evolution of the acclaimed Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS).

e-KDSS links the wheels via hydraulically supported stabiliser bars, for great on road handling and the can unlock the stabiliser bars when required to offer excellent wheel articulation for off-road use for what it is worth at this point.

That sinking feeling

I climbed out and my sneakers, now equally entrapped in mud, I surveyed my situation, it was not looking good. At this point I tried to remember all the off-road stuff I had been told over the years but never paid attention to.

Then I remembered from somewhere that I should try build up the area around the tyres so to give them something to work with in terms of traction.

I started hunting around for rocks to chuck around the wheels, and after an hour in the blazing sun I had built up what I thought was more than a sufficient launching pad for the Land Cruiser 300 GR-S.

With my sense of humour fading fast thanks to the drying mud now starting to cake around my feet, I had to jump back into the car and have another go at getting it out.

Of course, if you are one of those hardcore off-road guys, by now you will already know that my plan was never going to work. Because the rocks were lying loose around the wheels, and all that happened was more wheelspin and mud flying everywhere.

I was stuck in a Land Cruiser 300, and it was at this point that I started thinking about who would ridicule me the least, and to call that person to come tow me out.

Clever system

As I sat inside the GR-S, completely dejected at my stupidity, I started looking around the dash and pushing all the buttons in front of me that I hadn’t bothered to pay attention to before due to the reasons I have already listed. Lights and notices started popping up on the dash, and one caught my eye, something to do with terrain modes.

Terrain modes? I didn’t know the LC300 GR-S had terrain modes. There was no button that actually said these words, so I gave in and committed the cardinal sin of motoring journalism, I went to the owner’s manual for help.

Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport
GR Sport log

Low and behold, there in black and white was a thing called All-Wheel Drive Integrated Management (AIM) that combines the Land Cruiser 300’s key modules to deliver enhanced performance across all terrains.

And within this system there was a button marked MTS and this acronym stands for Multi-Terrain Select. What MTS does is use the Electric Power Steering (EPS), VSC, Brake Control as well as engine and transmission logic to offer you the ability to select different terrain modes. These include Deep Snow, Mud, Dirt and Sand to electronically optimise vehicle performance and maximise traction.

Land Cruiser to the rescue

Mud? Mud is exactly what I was stuck in, but I honestly believed that I had done everything a computer could do to get this LC 300 out and pushing a button and twisting a dial was never going to save me. But as they say, never say never.

I could not believe it when somehow the Land Cruiser 300 started to find traction, and I could feel all sorts of systems working under me as the car started to inch forward to freedom. I have never been so relieved in all my life. No Land Rover driver had rocked up out of the blue as they always do and I had not become the first person on earth to get a Land Cruiser stuck, and nor will you.

The Land Cruiser 300 3.3D GR-S retails for R1 811 900 and is sold with a nine service/90 000 km service plan with service intervals set at 12-months or 10 000 km (whichever occurs first), and a three year/100 000 km warranty is included across the range.

For more information on the Toyota Land Cruiser 300, click here.

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