Stylistically, the 300 Series is clearly an evolution – not a revolution – of the LandCruiser ethos, but has Toyota gone too tech-heavy in top-end models?

When it comes to a vehicle like the 300 Series Toyota LandCruiser, getting it wrong isn’t an option. With the LandCruiser always having been designed to last for multiple decades when the average car is only really built to survive one, the model’s emphasis has always been on timelessness. After all, how else could the company still get away with still selling the 70 Series in select markets like here in Australia, and to the degree it’s had to pause the order books due to a two-year waiting list.

With modern car design putting an emphasis on advanced tech, touchscreens, and electrification, the idea of a ‘new’ LandCruiser is a complicated one. Go too hard on the tech side and it will age poorly, alienate the traditional customer base, and potentially be problematic down the line. Don’t pack it with enough tech, though, and there’s the risk buyers will be turned off by it feeling too dated. Factor in the V8-powered 200 Series being a hard act to follow, and you’ve got a hard task on your hands as an engineer or designer.

This is what the team at Toyota has come up with though, and at first glance, the 2022 LandCruiser 300 is the sort of safe evolution you’d expect. Looking like a refined and modern revision of its predecessor’s design, it’s still every bit a LandCruiser which is important as a first impression matters. Big and boxy, you can just tell that this will age well over the years to come. Given there’s also around a two-year waiting list to get your hands on the 300 Series, that’s enough to tell you people are loving it.

Six versions of the LC300 are on offer in Australia, all backed by a diesel engine; if you want a petrol engine here you’ll have to get its Lexus twin, the LX. The model tested here is what’s likely to be one of the most popular in the lineup, the mid-spec VX. Priced from $113,990 before on-road costs, it’s flanked by the GX and GXL below it, and the Sahara, GR Sport, and Sahara ZX above it. With the household name Sahara representing a near 20-grand jump in price, you can see why many after a more luxurious LandCruiser would be wise to pass it up for this.

The VX model features almost all the luxuries you can think of – heated and ventilated front seats with rather convincing synthetic leather upholstery and eight-way electric adjustment, four-zone climate control, a sunroof, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a 7.0-inch display in the instrument cluster, a wireless phone charger, and a 10-speaker Pioneer audio system. Perhaps a power-assisted tailgate is the only thing you’ll be left wanting for with this massively well-equipped package.

Of course, there’s a vast array of off-road tech as well, chief among which has to be its multi-terrain monitor system. Like a 360-degree camera system on steroids, it will use its cameras to splice together a view of what is underneath the car when you’re off-roading to make sure you don’t meet with any large rocks or bumps. The brilliant crawl control and downhill assist control systems also still feature, with the speed you’d like it to hold the vehicle at easily set using a large dial that doubles as a drive mode selector. There’s even an off-road turn assist system that brakes the inside rear wheel to reduce its turning circle during tight manoeuvres.

However, it’s at this point that I must circle back around to my earlier worry – is it too tech reliant? These off-roading systems, of course, are all refinements on tech from the 200 Series, but there are concerns I have in other areas. For instance, while there are big and sturdy physical switches for the climate controls, they simply tie in with the big infotainment system. That means that if the infotainment system goes, so does the air con. There’s no volume knob either, with push-buttons used instead.

Toyota has also copped heat for diesel particulate filter (DPF) issues with the HiLux in recent years, and there’s now a frustrating degree of overcautiousness shown in the LandCruiser. Although there are manual DPF regeneration switches on the dashboard, it automatically regenerates every couple-hundred kilometres. When it does, a notification of this appears across the entire 7.0-inch instrument cluster display where the digital speedometer was displayed. That would be fine, except you can’t make it go away and each regeneration takes around 40 minutes; press the exit button, and the warning flashes back up again after about 10 seconds, once again depriving you of the digital speedo.

If, like me, you’re concerned about that over-reliance on tech in a car that’s meant to survive the harshest Australian conditions, take comfort in knowing that GX and GXL models are far more straightforward. Yes, they may feature smaller displays – 9.0-inch for infotainment, and 4.2-inch in the gauge cluster – and feel a bit more spartan, but the climate controls are a standalone affair. Should you want that extra tech, just know that stepping up to the Sahara only adds stuff you don’t need such as a rear entertainment system, while all the really good off-road bits are saved for the mega-expensive GR Sport. My advice: play it safe with a GXL, or stick to this VX model if the tech is your thing.

Regardless, all 300 Series Toyota LandCruiser variants display the typically brilliant build quality associated with the model, with everything feeling solid and sturdy, yet still with the refinement you’d expect in a vehicle with a six-digit price tag.

In the first two rows there is an absolute abundance of space like you’d expect from a vehicle of this size, but the third-row seating – which only features in GXL, VX, and Sahara models – is really only there for occasional use for younger kids. With the third-row up you also only get 175 litres of cargo space, but dropping it down reveals a massive 1004-litre space with a flat floor, and lowering the second-row expands it further to a cavernous 1967 litres. There’s also a handy 220-volt three-pin socket in the boot for powering anything from a fridge to tools, while the full-size spare is located under the vehicle.

It should also be mentioned that all variants have a braked towing capacity of 3500kg and a payload of between 650-785kg, the VX model tested here falling on the lower side of that spectrum.

In keeping with the times, the glorious V8 engines of the 200 Series are gone, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In Australia, all 300 Series Toyota LandCruiser variants come with a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel engine that makes 227kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm from 1600-2600rpm – that’s a 27kW and 50Nm increase over the old V8 diesel. A 10-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel drive with a dual-range transfer case is also standard.

Without question, this new V6 feels far punchier than before. From the moment the full force of its torque hits, it carries this 2630kg bus up to speed with ease. Of course, it’s not just the added power that helps but also the weight savings of the smaller engine and the new platform which saves as much as 160kg depending on the variant.

However, with this engine lacking two cylinders and 1.2 litres of displacement compared to its V8 predecessor, there is the feeling that the V6 is working quite hard. The beauty of the old V8 was how under-stressed it was, lazily delivering freight train force without breaking a sweat, in turn showing it was designed for reliability. This newer, smaller engine will have to face the test of time, and I can only hope it’s up to it.

It should also be mentioned that it doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as the old V8 diesel, sounding more clattery and anonymous rather than brutish and muscular. For those wondering why the new 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol isn’t offered in the 300 Series here, under two percent of Australian 200 Series buyers went for the V8 petrol, so while other markets offer it, it’s the preserve of the Lexus LX 600 for the Aussie market.

What is at least a good fit with the V6 diesel is the 10-speed transmission. Normally, I think 10 is too many ratios to have, but with how much torque this engine offers, there’s no wrong gear for it. The transmission simply selects a gear without any disturbance and it just works. The full-time four-wheel drive system continues to be exceptional as well, with low-range or centre diff-lock engagement both happening within moments of flicking the switch for either.

With 235mm running ground clearance, 32-degree approach and 25-degree departure angles, and an overall length of just under five metres, it couldn’t be any easier to drive off-road. It feels capable yet comfortable, with its rugged chassis soaking up the bumps so you don’t have to, and the vast array of tech – particularly the crawl control system, which is essentially low-speed cruise control – means it will make even a novice off-roader look good behind the wheel.

It’s on the open road where the Toyota LandCruiser has always felt most at home, though, and the 300 Series is no different. There’s the same familiar relaxed steering feel and wafty ride that made the 200 such a treat to soak up the miles in, and it’s in this regard that the 300 Series feels most like a LandCruiser when you think of the model’s strongest characteristics.

What I was disappointed by, however, was the fuel consumption from the V6. Brimming the tank after 760km of driving, it chewed through 12.0L/100km – for what it’s worth, the number on my calculator matched that on the trip computer, so at least the latter is accurate. Compared that to the rather optimistic 8.9L/100km claim it doesn’t look that great, and it’s also only half a litre per hundred better than I managed in the 200 Series. If anything, it’s the greatest reflection on how hard this V6 is working when you’re at speed on the open road; in that regard, nothing will beat a V8.

With servicing required every six months/10,000km, there’s a risk it could get expensive to maintain in the long run. The first 10 services are capped at $375 each at least, although that’s still $750 a year you’ll need to set aside during the first five years of ownership. It’s also worth noting that while a standard five-year unlimited kilometre warranty applies to the whole car, servicing it according to the recommended schedule will extend the engine and driveline warranty to seven years’ coverage.

There’s no doubt that the 300 Series Toyota LandCruiser is still befitting of the famed name with how characteristically capable it remains. There’s no doubt that if you’re after a big 4×4 that can tow 3.5 tonnes, keep a family comfortable on a road trip, and handle any terrain you can throw it at.

However, at $113,990 for this VX model – and with pricing stretching between $89,990 and $138,790 across the range – it isn’t the cheapest way of doing it. A Land Rover Discovery is the more refined way of doing things, certainly, and the Defender the more stylish, but the ageing Y62 Nissan Patrol can’t be beaten on price, hence why it’s still such a popular option and really the LandCruiser’s greatest rival, although the 300 is easily the more refined offering given the years of extra development. Don’t think you can save some money by getting an older 200 Series, either – so highly regarded is the old model, used examples still sell for near-new pricing, if not more.

I’m curious to see how well the 300 Series stands the test of time, as that is the greatest LandCruiser attribute it needs to prove it carries, and I dare say the more basic variants will have the better chance of upholding that reputation. Right now, though, at this moment in time, there’s a lot to like about the latest ‘Cruiser to wear the name. Consider the hype to be justified.

2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 VX Diesel List Price: $113,990
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Ride & Handling - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Tech & Features - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Value for Money - 7.5/10

Pros: Traditional LandCruiser comfort and off-road prowess, off-road assistance systems making four-wheeling easy, more power and less weight means it feels far punchier than its predecessor, styling will age well over the years to come
Cons: V6 diesel engine feels a bit over-stressed, DPF regeneration warning is a constant annoyance, six-month service intervals, big price tag and long wait times

In a nutshell: While the more traditional GXL model will likely age the best over the years, this tech-forward VX model feels like the pick of the 300 Series range for buyers after the most amount of kit at the best price. A Nissan Patrol may offer more for less, but the LC300 is clearly the far more modern and refined offering.

Photography by Tom Stuart.

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Toyota Australia for a week with all fuel costs covered.

Patrick Jackson
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