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Toyota Land Cruiser VX 2022 review

 

The middle option of the Land Cruiser 300 Series range – the $113,900 VX – represents a good blend of equipment and price


Good points

  • VX offers decent value
  • Strong twin-turbo V6 diesel
  • Comfortable fan-cooled seats
  • Improved ride & handling
  • Intuitive tech, good stereo

Needs work

  • Dearer than the 200 Series VX
  • Manual tailgate – at $114K
  • Vinyl seats – at $114K
  • Short service intervals
  • Average tyres

If you’re interested in ordering a Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series, you’ve probably already spotted the uber-cool GR Sport trim lurking on a dealership forecourt – but it’s the middle-specification, $113,900 VX model that will end up sitting on the most driveways.

After 1000km of testing in town and in the bush, it’s easy enough to understand why. While the VX is far from a cheap car, the decently long list of comfort and convenience features that it brings to the table makes it hard to justify spending another 30 grand.

Sure, we’d miss the chopped styling of the GR Sport and the more opulent real leather of the Sahara models, but even the heated-and-cooled synthetic upholstery of the VX feels supple. And there is no discrimination across the range when it comes to powertrain.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 rear 3/4

Some 200 Series diehards regard the decision to downsize from a 4.5-litre diesel V8 to a mostly-new 3.3-litre twin-turbo diesel V6 to be retrograde, but the reality is that the new Land Cruiser engine is a goodun’.

Naturally, we can’t pack years of hard driving into a week when the car is brand new, but we did our best, subjecting the set-to-be-popular VX specification to a wide range of duties, from shopping in Sydney’s city centre to relocating bulky furniture to a far-flung country NSW farm.

So how did the middle child of the 300 Series line-up fare?

How does the Land Cruiser VX drive?

While the dimensions and hard points of the outgoing 200 Series Land Cruiser and the new 300 Series are similar, there are comprehensive changes to the vehicle under the skin.

The two biggest alterations are the adoption of a radically overhauled frame chassis as the basis for the new model. Internally known as TNGA-F, this platform is considerably stiffer, theoretically allowing superior roadholding and ride while retaining the articulation the Land Cruiser’s reputation relies upon.

A further change is under the bonnet, where the Land Cruiser 300 Series eliminates the previous car’s V8 engine for a more efficient 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged diesel V6 unit that makes 227kW of power (304 hp) at 4000rpm and 700Nm of torque between 1600-2600rpm – outputs that are 27kW/50Nm higher than the old V8.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 front close

Smaller but stronger on paper, some enduring Land Cruiser owners have questioned long-term durability: we don’t have a crystal ball, but it seems unlikely that Toyota would make flippant short-term choices that could endanger the Land Cruiser’s earned reputation for reliability.

Out in the real world, the new Land Cruiser’s diesel V6 is a great powertrain. It feels quicker everywhere than the occasionally breathless old V8, and it has an unusual but enjoyable growl as you take off. We clocked 0-100km/h times of around 8.0 seconds – spritely for a 2630kg 4WD.

Aiding the performance of the V6 is a new 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission that is shared with Toyota of America’s Tundra full-size pick-up and Sequoia wagon – both of which are available with a petrol-electric, twin-turbo hybrid V6 powertrain that is expected to slot under the Land Cruiser’s bonnet as an optional engine in future years.

Refined and sophisticated, the 10-speed works subtly away to keep the six-cylinder in its meaty torque band, though downshifting under brakes is still too timid for our liking – meaning the Cruiser’s four-wheel disc brakes got a workout descending into Kangaroo Valley in NSW before pulling steering-wheel paddles to force engine braking.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 engine

The same transmission will be found in the Land Cruiser’s posh cousin – the soon-to-launch J300 Lexus LX that will offer the Tundra’s 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 without hybrid assistance. In other words, the same engine found in the luxurious Lexus LS limo.

Befitting a famed off-roading vehicle, the only driveline available for the Land Cruiser includes a full-time 4WD system that distributes torque to all four wheels, all the time – though serious off-roaders will prefer the GR Sport variant which upgrades the VX’s locking centre differential to a triple diff set-up with front, centre and rear lockers.

The re-engineered TNGA-F body-on-frame platform that sits beneath the 300 Series is stiffer than before and, as promised, the dynamics have improved. We wouldn’t call the Land Cruiser car-like, but it is noticeably more sure-footed on tarmac than the ponderous wagon it replaces.

In fact, the 300 is now let down much more by its decidedly average Dunlop Grandtrek tyres than its tighter, fitter, rejuvenated chassis. We are left wondering who really wants this rubber as it’s neither aggressive enough for moderate trails nor assertive enough for quicker cornering. A set of Continental CrossContact tyres would really unlock the Cruiser’s on-road ability, while off-roading types will prefer a bulkier all-terrain choice.

Aside from the new engine, most noticeable on-road is the improved steering which is faster and better-weighted, though Toyota could have gone even further with feedback: among separate-chassis vehicles, the decade-old Volkswagen Amarok still offers arguably the most car-like steering feel of the lot.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 4WD knobs close

We were surprised to find that the VX, which runs with passive dampers and without Toyota’s famous Australian-developed KDSS suspension system, had body control that was more than acceptable. On the 200 Series, opting for a non-KDSS variant meant quite sketchy cornering dynamics.

The only variant to score a refreshed e-KDSS system now is the rugged GR Sport, which also picks up an adaptive suspension, while the ostensible flagship Sahara ZX wears an extra body kit and has a limited-slip rear differential.

ANCAP bestowed a five-star crash and safety rating upon the Land Cruiser 300 Series at the start of this year and reflected that its semi-autonomous safety systems are well tuned – particularly the pedestrian-sensing AEB that even works when turning across a junction.

That said, we found the fine-tuning of the lane-keeping assist system wanting, with the vehicle allowed to wander in the lane more than we’d like.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
8.0
Ride & refinement
7.5
Handling
6.5
Safety
7.5

How is the Land Cruiser VX’s interior?

Owners of the 200 Series will instantly feel at home in the cabin of the new-generation Land Cruiser, while noting a number of upgrades and modernisations over the old car.

Conservative remains the theme of the day within the confines of the Land Cruiser’s cabin, and the basic shapes of the old car’s interior remain – along with most of the 300 Series’ exterior proportions, which are within millimetres of the previous model.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 interior

Even the interior technology is pretty reminiscent of the 200 Series: the driver gets a similar set of handsome analogue gauges with a moderately sized colour trip computer between them that can show a digital speedo, fuel consumption, media, navigation and safety-system settings.

In the centre of the cabin is a larger touchscreen than before – the new display measuring 12.3-inches diagonally – though the software it runs is more or less the same as the previous car, albeit shown in higher resolution. There is now wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there is also a CD player – maintained here as the Land Cruiser threads between older and younger buying cohorts.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 front seats

There is a quality JBL stereo at the VX level that rendered our music faithfully and clearly, either by Bluetooth or on Apple CarPlay via an old-size USB-A cable. AM, FM, and DAB digital radio frequencies are also included, along with integrated satellite navigation.

Some things never change, including the arctic quality of Toyota’s air conditioning that should ensure the 300 Series remains an ideal partner for summer crossings of the Australian continent, with or without a large caravan in tow.

Also cooled are the black-trimmed seats in the VX – which is important because, quite shockingly at this price, the pews are vinyl. The decision to eschew leather in a trim level that would have once been regarded as fairly luxurious for a Land Cruiser is a head-scratcher, though it will keep the seats looking newer for longer than true hide.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 rear seats

We believe seat cooling is important because vinyl lacks the same naturally thermal properties as leather, so your back and bottom get sweatier – we might as well tell it like it is. Active fans in both front seats keep this problem mostly at bay, but it says a lot that we had to run the seat coolers on every drive – even on temperate days.

Spending $17,200 more on the Sahara sees the seats upholstered more fittingly in a mix of real leather and leatherette – but the Sahara also adds a more appealing beige leather option, while the rugged-cool GR Sport gets red-stitched black hide.

We found the driver’s seat comfortable on a long five-hour stint behind the wheel, if lacking somewhat in lateral bolstering on the generously broad squab. In another hint of cost-control at this level of the range, seat memory is limited to the Sahara and above.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 boot

The Land Cruiser remains roomy for five but squeezy for seven, despite a decision to ditch the old car’s side-latched dickie-seats in favour of building the retractable third row into the floor. The issue remains the Land Cruiser’s relatively manageable 4980mm length, though this makes it conveniently shorter than the Nissan Patrol (5175mm), Land Rover Defender 110 (5018mm), and the car-based Mazda CX-9 (5075mm).

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
7.0
Cabin technology
7.0
Driver comfort
7.0
Passenger space
7.5

What are the Land Cruiser VX’s running costs?

One area where the Land Cruiser has become cheaper, rather than more expensive, is when it comes to fuel consumption. Put simply, the new V6 engine uses 20-30 percent less diesel in the real world when compared to the previous V8.

That meant that we had no trouble recording a combined score of 10.0L/100km fuel consumption, though we did slightly bias country touring over suburban use. When we drove in town, we saw figures closer to 11-12L/100km.

A future hybrid system, such as the ‘iForce Max’ petrol-electric hybrid V6 found in the related US-market Toyota Tundra and Sequoia models, will boost the Land Cruiser’s eco-credentials further.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 badge

Frustratingly, the 300 Series has failed to improve on the inconveniently short six months/10,000km service intervals of its predecessor – a fault it shares with its chief rival, the Nissan Patrol. Toyota says it’s due to the likelihood of the Land Cruiser performing more heavy-duty tasks than a regular vehicle.

If you are planning an around-Australia road trip, servicing the vehicle en route will need to be part of your preparations. And if you do big kilometres, your spend will start to accrue on routine maintenance quite quickly.

At least servicing is reasonably priced. Toyota caps the price of the first 10 service visits – that is five years/100,000km – with each visit costing $375 for a total of $3750.

Nissan caps just six Patrol services, ending up at three years/60,000km, with each visit averaging $539.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 lights

It’s worth noting that the Land Cruiser’s British rival, the new Land Rover Defender 3.0-litre diesel, has the least expensive scheduled maintenance, with a five year/130,000km service plan costing just $2650. The Defender’s service intervals are much longer than the Toyota or Nissan, at 12 months/26,000km.

At least the Land Cruiser is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, like every other new Toyota sold in Australia.

Running costs scorecard
Consumption
Good
Servicing
Average
Warranty
Good

The final verdict

For many Australian buyers of the new Toyota Land Cruiser, the VX will be something of a goldilocks trim – nowhere near as expensive as the Sahara, but clearly more premium and liveable than the cloth-trimmed GXL workhorse.

That said, at $113,900, the Land Cruiser VX is far from affordable, but this kind of engineering doesn’t come cheap. The 300 Series is much improved on the car it replaces for ride and handling, despite the TNGA-F frame chassis retaining excellent off-roading ability.

Toyota LC300 VX 2022 side

If the 300 Series can prove over the next few years that it retains its predecessor’s durability, the Toyota Land Cruiser will continue to be the most fit-for-purpose touring vehicle on sale in Australia.

We hope and expect that Toyota will nip some of the questionable value points in the bud over the lifespan of this vehicle, however. The VX may be no Sahara, but resorting to manual tailgates and vinyl seating on a once-luxurious grade feels a little like penny-pinching.

As an all-rounder, though, the middle of the Land Cruiser range strikes a great balance between driving dynamics, off-road capability, ride and seat comfort, and powertrain refinement. We recommend the Land Cruiser VX, while acknowledging that getting your hands on one will prove difficult in the short term.

Overall rating
Overall rating
8.0
Drivability
8.0
Interior
7.0
Running costs
Good
Overall rating
8.0
Drivability
8.0
Interior
7.0
Running costs
Good

Variant tested LC300 VX (4x4)

$113,990
Details
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges
$119,834

Key specs (as tested)

Engine
Capacity
3346 cc
Cylinders
v6
Induction
Twin Turbo
Power
227kW at 4000rpm
Torque
700Nm at 1600rpm
Power to weight ratio
86kW/tonne
Fuel
Fuel type
Diesel
Fuel capacity
110 litres
Consumption
8.9L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
1235km (claimed)
Drivetrain
Transmission
Manual
Drivetrain
4x4
Gears
10
Dimensions
Length
4980 mm
Width
1980 mm
Height
1950 mm
Unoccupied weight
2630 kg

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