DRIVEN: New Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series remains a legend among 4x4s

Published Feb 13, 2024


For decades it’s been the mainstay of the agricultural industry, the mining sector, security companies and overland enthusiasts.

From stock standard to massively modified accommodation on wheels, the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series has become an icon of rugged reliability especially in Africa and Australia.

Updates have been few and far between because why scratch when there isn’t an itch?

One thing that hasn’t been synonymous with it though is consumption and the many litres of fuel it takes to keep it running.

I mean a 4.0-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine, a 4.2-litre naturally aspirated in-line six diesel plant and a 4.5-litre V8 turbo-diesel (all manual) are never going to feature on the best consumption charts.

Throw in the whole emissions hooha and Toyota had to make a plan.

And that plan was to slot in the tried and trusted 2.8-litre four-cylinder engine with the six-speed automatic transmission, the same power plant found in the Hilux, Fortuner and Prado, producing 150kW and 500Nm.

The turbo V8 provides 151kW and 430Nm, so you’re 1kW down but 70Nm up, which is actually what you want.

I’ve been reading a number of overseas and local forums where keyboard warriors have been deriding Toyota for the decision to drop the 2.8 into the 70-Series considering how much of a workhorse it is and the terrain in which it operates.

Fact is, Toyota aren’t a bunch of mugs and no doubt they have done extensive R&D (research and development) to ensure it’s not going to randomly break down because it’s overstressed.

They’ve made a number of mechanical changes, most notably in the cooling department, to ensure that it’s legendary reliability isn’t compromised and have also kept its braked towing capacity at 3,500kg.

And if you’re not convinced, for now the other engine options are still available with the five-speed manual gearbox.

The most obvious exterior change is the bonnet where, again, people have been rather derogatory, but if you’re concerned about the 70 Series’ aesthetics then maybe it’s not for you.

There’s a new square grille with a black mesh pattern and ‘TOYOTA’ (as if you need reminding) lettering above a three-slot grille, inspired by the 75-Series and a hood vent above the grille borrowed from the 40-Series.

Wide bumpers and black overfenders round it off and keeping it simple and easy to find a spare tyre in far-flung areas, 16-inch alloys.

These negligible changes mean that all current accessories (and there are a lot) will fit without having to make any alterations.

Let’s face it, the 70-series has never been known for its interior sophistication so there’s a new centre console with a lidded centre storage box, and believe it or not cup holders and some strategically placed small storage compartments.

The centre box though could have been higher to provide a comfortable place to rest your arm.

The station wagon rear seats get a 60:40 split and also fold forward but it’s not a particularly comfortable place to sit with limited leg room.

There’s a locally-sourced touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Tracks4Africa navigation.

Volume can only be adjusted on the screen which really isn’t ideal when you take your eyes off the road while bouncing around on a corrugated gravel track.

The air conditioning slides are pretty much 1980s Cressida but they work, and will still do so if they get wet and dusty.

Dials are strictly analogue and unfortunately for now we don’t get the heritage version that the Aussies get.

Toyota South Africa is looking to launch a VX variant that adds leather seats, an optional fridge between the front seats, a Rockford sound system and a reverse camera.

What’s it like the drive the Land Cruiser 70 Series?

Driving the new Cruiser is rather a revelation with the GD-6 2.8.

Sure, there’s not the pleasant sounding V8 but it will gladly cruise at 120km/h at 2000rpm and keep a constant speed without having to change gears and when it does, the auto box does it quietly and smoothly.

Built like a brick outhouse, there’s always going to be wind noise, especially from the large side mirrors and with a live axle, front coil suspension and rear leaf springs it’s not going to win any slalom competitions.

Still, it’s solidly planted although slightly bumpy when unloaded but keep in mind its application in Toyota’s stable.

During a bit of 4x4 driving in the magnificent Lapalala Wilderness the 70-Series came into its own. Not that it was ever in doubt mind you, more as a confirmation that this is why it's so popular in the 4x4 world.

4H and low range is engaged by a good old fashioned short stick. We didn’t need it, but underscoring its off-road prowess, it has front and rear locking differentials and Downhill Assist Control.

There are a couple of anomalies though that may have you scratching your head.

The Station Wagon has cruise control, the double cab doesn’t, the Station wagon has an odometer, two trip metres and an outside temperature display while its sibling doesn’t have a temperature display, the double cab has an extra cup holder in the passenger door which the Station Wagon hasn’t and neither has a consumption configuration.

That being said, it won’t make an iota difference to 70-series aficionados, potential owners or have the slightest effect on sales because, well… It's a Land Cruiser.

Hell, given half a chance my name is on the order book.

It comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty and an optional 100 000km service plan.

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series Pricing (February 2024)


LC79 4.0 Petrol S/C 5MT: R765,500

LC79 4.2 Diesel S/C 5MT: R829,000

LC79 4.5 Diesel V8 S/C 5MT: R956,200

LC79 2.8 GD-6 Diesel S/C 6AT: R917,100


LC79 4.0 Petrol D/C 5MT: R864,600

LC79 4.2 Diesel D/C 5MT R920,800

LC79 4.5 Diesel V8 D/C 5MT: R1,039,200

LC79 2.8 GD-6 Diesel D/C 6AT: R1,009,000


LC78 4.2 Diesel SW 5MT: R900,100

LC76 4.5 Diesel SW 5MT: R1,076,800

LC76 2.8 GD-6 Diesel SW 6AT: R999,900

LC 76 2.8 GD-6 VX Diesel SW 6AT: TBC

IOL Motoring