Review: Toyota Land Cruiser 76 2.8 GD-6 Station Wagon LX

The biggest changes to the latest Toyota Land Cruiser station wagon are to the engine bay. Read more about it here.

Toyota has boosted the appeal of its venerable 70 Series Land Cruiser with the inclusion of the modern 2.8 GD-6 engine and six-speed automatic gearbox from the contemporary Hilux.

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Toyota Land Cruiser 76 2.8 GD-6 Station Wagon LX Fast Facts

  • Price: R999 900
  • 0-100 km/h: 10.50 seconds
  • Top speed: 150 km/h
  • Power: 150 kW
  • Torque: 500 N.m
  • CAR fuel index: 11.52 L/100 km
  • CO2: 258 g/km

When CAR first tested a Land Cruiser, NASA had just launched its first space shuttle Enterprise, the first instalment of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky film franchise had hit the silver screen, Nadia Comaneci scored the first perfect 10 scores in gymnastics on the way to three gold medals at the Montreal Summer Olympics, and Messrs. Wozniak and Jobs had formed a small company that would become Apple Computer.

The year was 1976 and the Land Cruiser Troopy tested in October that year made use of 4.2-litre naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine that sent 86 W and 284 N.m of torque to all four wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox. Enough for a 0-100 km/h sprint of 20.50 seconds and a fuel index of 20 L/100 km.

The mere fact that the design of the 70 Series can trace its roots back more than 40 years and is still in demand today is a remarkable motoring achievement. The more luxurious 60 Series would go on to become the 80, then 100, 200 and now 300, which have had their fair share of the market. The more utilitarian Cruiser models that started off with 45 and 55 designations and eventually became the 70 Series would remain for those who preferred their off-roading with fewer frills.76 2.8 GD-6

The biggest changes to this design, bar a few cosmetic enhancements, have taken place in the engine bay, with petrol and diesel-powered straights sixes of varying capacity, the famed 4.0 V6 from the Hilux/Fortuner and most recently a decade ago the inclusion of the 4.2 turbodiesel V8 from then range-topping Land Cruiser 200.

For the 2024 model year, Toyota’s ditched the more recent square headlamps in favour of round units with side-mounted indicators and a black plastic grille in a nod to the 70’s ancestors like the discontinued FJ Cruiser. There’s also a beefy “step” bumper which, as the name suggests, is large enough to stand or even sit on, and the bonnet features a prominent power bulge, which rises from just atop the grille before dipping just before the windscreen.

Land Cruiser badging is now positioned on the front fenders as opposed to the front doors, and the 70’s over fenders have been left in black plastic instead of the painted examples on its predecessor. Five-spoke alloy wheels remain and are now finished in a darker hue as opposed to the silver wheels before. The front wheel hubs can still be locked manually. The rest of the exterior is virtually unchanged. Inside, the first thing enthusiasts will notice is a steering wheel lifted from the Hilux/Fortuner. Just like the older versions, there are no satellite controls for the infotainment system or trip computer – the latter accessed via a pin in the instrument panel that only displays the odometer or trip A or B. Making up for the basic computer are the fitment of volt gauge and oil pressure gauges – both are typical Land Cruiser fare.

New to the cabin are storage bins around the automatic gear lever, with one for a smartphone below the lever and a single drink holder aft of that. Rounding off the cabin is a new infotainment screen, with wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via an integrated USB-A port, and dual USB-C charge ports in the facia, which is otherwise unchanged from before. The front seat cushions and backs are manually adjustable, but with no height adjustment.

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With all the seats in place, the luggage bay accommodated 832 litres worth of our ISO blocks Fold the 60:40 split rear seats and there’s 1 408 litres of utility space. The capacious boot does impact rear kneeroom, which sits at 510 mm in our tandem six-footer seating measurement. But the real party piece in the updated Land Cruiser 70 Series is its heart. The four-cylinder GD-6 will be met with scepticism by the diehards, but you can’t argue with the fact that it nearly matches the range-topping 4.5-litre turbodiesel V8 in terms of power (1 kW less) and has 70 N.m more torque.

On the road, despite its 2 281 kg heft, the Land Cruiser 76 managed to sprint to 100 km/h in 10.50 seconds and overtaking from 80 to 120 took just 8,17 seconds. During testing, with the Cape’s notorious south-easterly wind battering the old-school profile of the 76, there was a significant thrum in the cabin, which limits conversations between passengers. Those massive side mirrors don’t help in this regard, either.

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The Land Cruiser’s on-road manners surprised us given its ladder-frame chassis and leaf-spring rear suspension system, with suitable levels of poise in an unladen state. Although the steering inputs are massive (lock-to-lock requires four turns), it provides all the feedback necessary, especially off the beaten track.

Speaking of which, we’d go as far to say that there’s very little that will come close to matching the Land Cruiser 76’s off-road prowess. Aggressive approach and departure angles (33 and 23 degrees respectively) and a 230 mm ground clearance help make the most of the hill descent control, front and rear lockable diffs, and of course the manual transfer case. Live axles front and rear are also Land Cruiser staples, and their presence is reassuring off the beaten track.

During our rigorous testing procedures and arduous off-road shakedown, the Cruiser returned a respectable 12.83 L/100 km. On our real-world fuel route, potential buyers will be pleased to note that we achieve a figure of 9.67 L/100 km, equating to more than 1 000 km the 130-litre fuel tank.

We suspect that most of the folks in the market for this Land Cruiser 76 will be legacy buyers who might want to add to their current Cruiser collection, or simply want to daily drive one and get more than 400 km worth on a full tank. The revised exterior also twisted the necks of those in the know during our test period and drew admiring glances from older motorists and off-roaders while we were bundu-bashing.

In the current climate of well-equipped off-roaders, the glaring lack of mod-cons may be irksome – there might even be a few items that the CAR test team would appreciate, such as park distance control (a reverse camera is standard on the VX grade, as is a nudge bar, more sound deadening, leather upholstery and upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system) and auto-locking doors.

Toyota’s decision to drop the modern 2.8 GD-6 and a six-speed automatic in the Land Cruiser may be seen by some as a masterstroke, or a clever move to keep the Land Cruiser name going strong. Still, judging by the amount old Cruisers still doing the rounds today, there’s little doubt we’ll still be seeing GD-6 models around for at least another 40 years.

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