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Which is why it has been at the helm of 4x4 African motoring for more than 60 years.
Venture north of the Tropic of Capricorn and the Toyota Land Cruiser is a more common sight than the Corolla – and for good reason. For as long as Toyota has been a household name in South Africa, the indomitable Land Cruiser 70 Series has been the ultimate 'tough as nails' workhorse. Having forged a million paths in South Africa’s ‘veld and vlei’ and bashed its way in and out of mines, through construction sites and up farm trails, the LC 70 series has earned an enviable reputation for versatility, ruggedness and dependability. In the words of Toyota South Africa’s General Manager of Marketing Communications, Kerry Roodt: “If you want the world's toughest 4WD, for work, towing, or extensive off-road travel, this is it!”
In its latest iteration, Toyota's hard-working 70 Series Land Cruiser range has just come in for a 2013 model-year update which sees the addition of a new Double Cab version, while the headline safety feature is the adoption of ABS anti-skid brakes on all models, together with a raft of other improvements across the range.
The new body style – which is the fourth member of the venerable 70-Series range alongside the existing (albeit subtly revised) Single Cab and Station Wagon.
The newest member of the Land Cruiser 70 family was borne out of a real need to have a vehicle that combines the carrying capacity of a pick-up with the flexibility of a double cab.
“The Double Cab will carry five adults in comfort without sacrificing the one-ton payload (920kg for the diesel and 1005kg for the petrol model) or the Land Cruiser’s legendary toughness – in short, it delivers go-anywhere carrying capacity in style,” says Roodt.
Answering the call of the wild is a breeze with the unstoppable 4.2-litre diesel engine. It dishes out a laudable 96 kW at 3800 rpm while offering a stonking 285 Nm of torque from a low 2200 rpm. There’s also the option of the aurally stimulating 4.0-litre petrol power plant on the Land Cruiser 79 Single Cab and Double Cab. Power comes in at 170 kW at 5600 rpm and torque is pegged at 360 Nm at 3800 rpm.
All models come standard with a differential lock, five-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive system with hardy low-range transfer box for staggering off-road ability. Please note that the new ABS braking system operates when the vehicle is in H2 and H4 modes (except when differential locks are engaged). As before brakes are ventilated discs at the front but all 70-series models have made a massive leap forward in technology with the addition of rear disc brakes. While on the subject of safety, driver and front passenger airbags are standard across the board and the characteristic extended front bumper prevents unnecessary airbag response when doing hard-core off-roading.
Suspension is the proven combination of live axles front and rear with coil springs at the front and leaf springs bringing up the rear. The latter rigid axle rear suspension ensures that occupants are always comfortable. Bear in mind though that a spring rate that favours ride quality over absolute load carrying capacity is used for both the coil and leaf springs on the Station Wagon and Double Cab as opposed to the heavier duty spring rate of the Single Cab Pick-up.
Also worth noting is the impressive ground clearance – the multi-talented 76 Station Wagon boasts a ground clearance of 230 mm, while the Land Cruiser 78 Wagon and 79 Pick-up variants are 235 mm above the ground, allowing the vehicle to tackle any off-road condition with aplomb.
Naturally prized more as a tough workhorse, there’s nevertheless a healthy dollop of retro appeal going on here as well. Spec levels are also not purely utilitarian – along with the indestructibility are more than just a few niceties. All models for example get power steering, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, air conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors and a 12V accessory connector. And now, they all come with remote central locking.
In keeping with its role as a people carrier (for up to five people), the 76 Station Wagon is the most extravagantly equipped boasting such interior extras as carpeted flooring, on-board SatNav, stereo system incorporating a CD player and an auxiliary USB port. Aesthetically the most refined of the 70s, the 76 is adorned with combination colour-coded and chromed accoutrements (bumpers, grille, over fenders), aluminium side steps and fetching 16-inch alloys. For the New Generation, a 130-litre fuel tank replaces the 90-litre unit and a spare wheel cover is added to the standard package.
Then come the 79s – first up in Single Cab guise. Not quite as ascetically functional as the 78, these models are now ‘pimped’ with colour-coded and chromed exterior trim, front fog lamps and colour-matched over fenders. Like their 78 sibling, the 79 Single Cabs boast a combined fuel capacity of 180 litres.
New kids on the block – the 79 Double Cabs – are cosmetically differentiated from their Single Cab stable mates by the addition of two rear doors, as well as the deletion of over fenders and 16-inch alloys (available as an option). Move indoors, however, and they gain extra kit in the form of on-board SatNav, a stereo system and USB port. The Double Cabs are equipped with a 130-litre fuel tank.
All new Land Cruiser 70 Series models come with Toyota's comprehensive three-year/100 000 km warranty. These models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme and entitles customers to 24-hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.