Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series: Out of retirement
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Toyota's toughest truck is back at work with updated Land Cruiser 70 Series models making a return to the New Zealand market after a short holiday.
The lack of Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) -- mandatory on all new passenger and light commercial vehicles sold in New Zealand after July 1 2015 -- had taken the 70 Series out of Toyota dealer showrooms for a six-month temporary retirement.
Toyota New Zealand had landed a one-off shipment of 70s and complied them before the cut-off date with the hope of running through until the update arrived. That stock was sold out by April this year.
The old-school 70 Series is the rugged truck used by mining companies, farmers, logging and weed control contractors in New Zealand's toughest terrain.
The two biggest customers are Solid Energy and Oceania Gold.
Sales of the 70 Series peaked at 257 in 2015 and fell to 85 to date this year before the final stock was sold. The target for 2017 is to step back to 150 annual sales.
Toyota now offers a re-engineered workhorse 'Cruiser -- although you'd barely notice that from the outside -- that ticks the VSC box and benefits from other improved safety features while also delivering an equipment upgrade.
The VSC upgrade has also enabled the introduction of Active Traction Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist and Emergency Stop Signal functions in a significant update to 32-year-old design.
The addition of side curtain and a driver's knee airbags along with structural changes to the cab and newly designed seats means the 70 Series Single Cab models --the biggest sellers -- now achieve a 5-star Australasian NCAP result.
Other boxes that needed to be ticked for the Single Cab's 5-star rating included additional padding inside the cabin and the introduction of pre-tensioner seat belts with adjustable mountings and warning light/buzzer seat belt reminders. The Double Cab and Wagon versions don't get the extra airbags -- nor the pre-tensioners, seat belt reminder or Emergency Stop Signal now fitted to the Single Cab -- so they are un-rated by ANCAP.
The safety upgrade also brings a reversing camera as standard equipment and a 6.1-inch TFT display audio on which the rear image is displayed. That also introduces a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth hands-free capability and USB connectivity.
The push to upgrade the 70 Series to 5-star status was largely at the behest of Toyota Australia. It's major fleet customers in the mining industry were demanding 5-star ANCAP status even when vehicles were often never used on public roads.
The development work on the VSC and safety upgrades included 100,000km of testing on Australian roads.
In the process of adding VSC intelligence, Toyota has been able to develop specific anti-lock braking programmes for 4x2, high-range 4x4 and low-range 4x4 driving. There is minimal ABS intervention when the vehicle is used in low-range terrain.
It's the ANCAP requirements that also bring about the only significant exterior change for the 70 Series. A raised bonnet scoop, a design change that creates more crush space between the bonnet and intercooler mounted atop the engine assists in the Pedestrian Safety element of ANCAP testing.
Under the skin there's also been a significant re-engineering of a vehicle that first went on sale in 1984 and evolved at several points since including the move from in-line six-cylinder to V8 diesel engines back in 2007. There are larger section frame rails and three strengthened cross members -- plus an additional cross-member -- along with new spring and damper tuning and buffers placed between the leaf springs of the rear suspension.
New dual automatic locking front hubs add further versatility when operating the 'Cruiser in a mix of on-road and off-road conditions and the previous two-piece split rim steel wheels have been replaced by a one-piece 16-inch rim that means tubeless tyres can be used.
The 4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel is largely unchanged but gains a diesel particulate filter and new piezoelectric injectors which allow it to met the Euro 5 emissions standard and achieve improved fuel consumption.
Single Cab models are now rated at 10.6L/100km (down from 11.5L/100km). All 70 Series models retain a 3500kg braked towing capacity with the 'Cruiser's key advantage over utility models Land Cruiser being the 3.5-tonne capacity can be put to use at the same time as the full payload rating.
The re-launched 70 Series line-up comprises five models in three body styles -- all with the 4.5-litre V8 diesel which delivers 151kW and has 430Nm of torque available from 1200-3200rpm.
It's the only vehicle line left in the New Zealand market in which a five-speed manual gearbox is the sole option.
Taller gearing in second and fifth achieve greater driving refinement and contribute some of the fuel consumption improvement.
Cruise control is another new feature for the 70 Series while a 130-litre fuel tank (up from 90L) becomes standard for the Single Cab model.
The two-seat, load-carrying, 70 Series wagon with its van-like cargo space and rear barn doors now gets twin 90-litre tanks.
The so-called Troop Carrier version has been deleted from the range and Toyota supplies the LT Wagon model in two-seat configuration allowing customers to install their own seating layouts.
Pricing has increased with the relaunch by around $7000 on each model.
Toyota used to charge $2600 for a High-Country package that added front and rear diff locks but that now becomes standard and represents a reasonable chunk of the price increase for the upgraded models.
Along with the base grade LT models a high-grade LX specification is available in both Single and Double Cab styles.
The LX 'Cruisers get 16-inch alloy wheels with 265/70 R16 tyres, aluminium side steps, a multi-info display, power windows and power antenna, chrome finished front bumper, grille and mirrors, carpet floor covering, variable intermittent wipers and black over fenders. The genuine accessories range for the Land Cruiser 70 Series will offer two bull bar options, winch packages, galvanised steel load trays, tow bar and wiring harness, headlight protectors and bonnet protection.