In the LC 70 Toyota has a true ‘Tuff Truck’ in its ute line-up.
Ross MacKay reports.
The 70 series is what Toyota classifies as its ‘Heavy Duty’ Land Cruiser line, distinguishing it from its 200 series and Prado models.
The ‘Heavy Duty’ tag is relevant here in NZ for several reasons, the key one being the use . As demand for 4x4 double cab utes like Hilux has increased – and the buyer profile broadened – there has been an inevitable softening of the focus to suit lifestylers, but less suit farmers and contractors. Hence the importance Toyota NZ placed on keeping the bigger, tougher LC 70 ‘Cruiser on its books.
With even the most basic (LT-spec) single-cab/chassis model costing $75,780 (to which you have to add at least $4K for a tray and around $1K for a tow bar and associated wiring) pricing is always going to be a barrier for some potential buyers.
For others though buying one will be a no-brainer. Who else, for instance makes a tough-as-old-nails working ute with a ladder chassis and live axles front and rear, dual-range 4x4 with a five-speed (manual only) transmission, and big, lazy turbocharged diesel V8?
First impressions are of size, once you have climbed (literally) up and into the large, light, airy cabin you sit upright in a large, firm straight-backed driver’s ‘chair’ and watch the world unfold in front of you through a tall, upright, virtually flat windscreen.
The pared back, bare bones nature of the entry-level LT- spec 70 did come as a bit of a surprise.
For a start, you have to use the key to lock and unlock the driver’s door. No highfalutin remote fob here. You have to wind the windows up and down yourself, and though Toyota has added a six-inch ‘infotainment unit’ complete with Bluetooth connectivity and reversing camera, the air conditioning unit still has the slide-lever to control the temperature
LT-spec also means vinyl on the floor and a plain, old urethane steering wheel.
I’d rate the LC 70 manual gearbox above average. Feel at the lever is a bit rubbery, though not at the expense of accuracy.
The first-to-second shift does need a firm hand against the spring to avoid hooking fourth but if you own one, first is so low you’re probably going to slip into the habit of starting off in second anyway...
Part of the latest upgrade includes a suite of state-of-the-art traction aid electronics, sure you can lock both diffs should you find the need. Way before you do, though, Toyota’s A-TRC (Active Traction Control) system will have been using the ABS sensors to quietly and effectively analyse what grip there is on grass, mud, snow or sand, and divvying up the power and torque across all four wheels accordingly, doing the work.
The company’s VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) system does a similar and equally unobtrusive job on the road.
Given the live axles front and rear, ride off-road is best described as firm but well damped, while the steering retains impressive feel and minimal kickback.
On the road the (unladen) ride remains a standout (seriously!) with plenty of compliance through the stroke and none of the ‘tip-of-the-spring’ stiffness that makes driving an unladen Hilux such a chore over judder bars, seal ridges and potholes.
The sheer size (length and height mainly) and super tanker-like 14.4m turning circle means you have to be careful driving an LC 70 in town.
Though mining companies buy most of the LC 70s sold here Toyota New Zealand GM – sales Steve Prangnell says that the rural sector has long been sold on its benefits.
“Farmers, fencers, weed-sprayers, builders, contractors; when Kiwis need a tough vehicle, LC 70 is the go-to machine.”
Body type Four-door utility
Engine type Inline 4-cyl. turbo-diesel
Engine capacity 2,999cc
Max power 130kW/3,600rpm
Max torque 380Nm/1,800-2,800rpm
Fuel consumption 8.1L/100km
C02 emissions 214g/km
Front suspension Independent, coils, wishbones
Rear suspension Leaf-sprung live axle
Roof rack No
ABS brakes Yes\
Stability programme Yes
Air conditioning Yes
Lap/diagonal belts Five
Satellite navigation No
Electric seats No
Burglar alarm Yes
Panic button No
Boot release N/A
Cargo cover No
Boot capacity N/A
Wheel type 16 inch steel
Spare tyre Full size steel
ANCAP rating Five stars