The Land Cruiser 200 is the King Kong of the Toyota range, boasting all the strengths of normal SUVs but with a physical presence and brute force all its own. As a descendent of the original Japanese military spec Land Cruiser the 200 has six decades worth of dirt running through its veins. But as the Land Cruiser has matured, some badge fans have said all the new luxuries and fancy styling has distanced the LC from its mud-munching roots. So is the Land Cruiser 200 still king of the jungle, capable of thumping its chest and cutting through any terrain? Or has it become softer than a beer-bellied slug? Car and SUV spent a week on the move with the 2010 Land Cruiser 200 to find out more.
The first thing that strikes you with the 200 is its bulky presence; for NZ it’s a giant of an SUV. Over the various generations the Land Cruiser has got larger and larger and now cuts an intimidating shadow. Up front it has a wide gaping grille with wrap around halogen headlights and a flat bonnet line. Flared guards and a high waist dominate the flanks and it’s a squarer look at the rear with a split tailgate and red-jeweled lights. Luxury exterior touches include chrome bright work on the side mirrors, grille and hatch grab bar. 18-inch alloys and tinted glass finish off the look.
Climb inside and there is an impressive amount of space on offer. The dark leather seats are flat but wide and separated by a massive centre storage box/armrest. All three rows of seating get air vents and 3-point seat belts, meaning 7 occupants can travel in comfort. The third row seating offers ample headroom and decent leg room for anyone under 6-foot it also has cup holders and handgrips. The back row is side mounted and splits in half to fold away while the second row is slide and recline adjustable. With the third row stowed away there’s a huge 700-litre cargo area available.
The dashboard mingles dark plastics, silver trim and wood grain inserts. It’s a look that definitely leans towards luxury than utility but the ergonomics are excellent and despite the multitude of functions, all controls are well placed and user-friendly. The silver ringed instruments are large and illuminate at night with a cool blue-white glow. Placed in between the gauges is small display screen that offers various vehicle information and alerts. The main 4.3-inch control touch screen is mounted high on the centre stack and operates well but is a distant reach away. Overall the 200 interior is a brilliant mix of spaciousness, form and function, small storage areas are abundant and it has a premium look and build quality. The equipment sheet is too lengthy to list but highlights include 4-zone air conditioning, electric seats, Pioneer 9-speaker CD stereo, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, cooling storage box, smart key system and a large sunroof.
Push the start button and the beast’s heartbeat rattles into life. Under the bonnet lays Toyota’s 4.5-litre twin turbo V8 diesel engine, and this intercooled oil burner pumps out 195kW of power and a brawny 650Nm of torque. It’s a muscular motor that pushes the 200 like a freight train along the tarmac. Low boost pulling power is good with both turbos kicking in at 2000rpm to deliver massive grunt and a 3500kg braked towing capacity. In the 80km to 120km overtaking zone the LC sheds its burly 2700kg kerb weight and moves at an express pace. Despite having 8-cylinders the motor isn’t a rattling noisy diesel affair and hums away contently during cruising.
Thanks partly to the massive amounts of torque on offer the 6-speed automatic transmission is an unobtrusive unit that rarely struggles for the right ratio. When it comes to fuel economy the V8 is cheaper to run than a similar-powered petrol motor, but is still thirsty by diesel standards. Toyota quotes the combined economy at 10.3l/100km, but we averaged around 14.5l/100km in a mix of mainly suburban with some motorway driving. That said, with a 93-litre main tank and an extra 45-litre sub tank, long journeys will require few gas station stops.
On road the LC 200 is a capable motorway cruiser with a complaint suspension tune that soaks up dips and bumps with ease. It can gobble up long trips like a large sedan and is very quiet in the cabin with the exception of some tyre roar. More windy NZ roads are more telling for the 200 and physics dictate that some body roll is unavoidable. Go too hard and the 285/60 Yokohama tyres won’t be able to stop the heavy SUV from pushing out wide mid-corner.
In urban areas the 200 isn’t exactly ideal, it does have super-light steering and is effortless to drive but at almost 5 meters in length and 2 meters in width it can be tough negotiating confined areas, even with parking sensors and reversing camera. A visit to a local mall turned the 200 from hero to zero when it felt like there was almost nowhere ‘responsible’ to park it. But this Hummer-sized beast isn’t built for mall car parks, it’s built for the wilderness and that’s where it can bare its teeth.
With a 225mm ground clearance and twin-turbo torque the LC has little trouble negotiating inhospitable terrain. Low gear ratios allow for mountain-goat climbing abilities and the departure (20 degrees) and approach (30 degrees) angles are impressive. Off-roading electronic aides include a downhill assist control (DAC) feature that prevents the 200 from skidding down slopes and Toyota’s clever CRAWL control function. CRAWL is a feet-off automated control system that assists the driver to optimally navigate rocky terrain, moguls, snow or sand. Stability and traction control systems can be turned off if you go bush, but both are calibrated for on and off-road use.
Other safety features on the 200 include ABS brakes with brake-assist, front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and a full eight air-bag package.
So does the Land Cruiser 200 stack up as the hairy-chested mud-slinging King Kong of SUVs? Not exactly. Like most modern SUV’s there have been compromises and the 200 is expected to be a docile pet in the city but a monster in the bush. While it still excels off-road and has some great new tech to do so, it is also a comfortable motorway cruiser. In urban and suburban environments its sheer size is a problem but the steering is light and its easily maneuvered. The cabin fit is premium and boasts expansive space, true 7-seat comfort and thoughtful switchgear. The diesel engine is quiet and powerful with enough torque to tow almost anything and move it at an express pace. All up, there’s a lot to like about this gentle giant, if you need its size, its power and its off road ability then $120k will buy the keys to its cage.
What we like:
- Spacious premium interior
- Off-road credibility
- Refined and torque-laden diesel engine
- Build quality
What we don’t like:
- Heavy-drinker of diesel
- Too big for the suburbs
- Body-roll on windy roads
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Check out a list of specifications below.
Toyota Land Cruiser 200 VX (2010) – Specifications
Model Code 1VD-FTV Type V Type, 8 Cylinder, 32 Valve, DOHC with Twin Turbo Chargers and Intercooler
Alternator 150 Amps
Battery Voltage 12 Volts
Bore 86.0 mm
Capacity 4461 cc
Compression 16.8 : 1
Configuration V Type Condition
Combined Emission 273 g/km
Fuel Tank Capacity 138 Litres
Fuel Type Diesel Injection
Type Common Rail Direct Injection
Location Front, Longitudinal
Maximum Power 195 kW
Maximum Torque 650 Nm
Starter 2.7 kW
Stroke 96.0 mm
Description 6-Speed Super ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Shift Control and Sequential Manual Mode
Drive Type Full-Time 4WD
Diff Type Torsen Centre LSD (Torque sensing Limited Slip Differential)
Front Fully Independent Double Wishbone Coil Spring with Stabiliser Bar
Rear 4-line Coil Rigid Suspension with Lateral Rod and Stabiliser Bar
Description Engine Speed Sensitive Power-Assisted Rack and Pinion Steering
Minimum Turning Circle 11.8 m
Steering Ratio 16.7
Turns lock to lock 3.14
Front Track 1640 mm
Rear Track 1635 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 3300 kg
Kerb Weight 2675-2720 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance 225 mm
Overall Height 1960 mm
Overall Length 4950 mm
Overall Width 1970 mm
Tow Capacity Braked 3500 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked 750 kg
Wheelbase 2850 mm
Description 8J x 18″ Alloy Wheels
Tyre Size 285/60 R18 steel belted radial ply tyres
Wheel Type Alloy