An incredible drive, even on corrugated, unsealed roads, a new level of comfort in Toyota’s mid-range flagship vehicle, heaps of grunt but with serious fuel economy, and an array of performance and safety features all contribute to establishing the Landcruiser 200 VX Twin Turbo V8 Diesel as a truly remarkable on and off-road vehicle.
Howard Springs is the closest rural area to Darwin and the unsealed road from there to Gunn Point Beach is legendary for its corrugations. Over the years, there have been plenty of letters published in the Northern Territory News about the appalling state of the Gunn Point Road. The reason is that the road accesses two boat ramps and a large section of coastal and estuarine waters, including the mouth of the mighty Adelaide River. At times, vehicles and boat trailers take really a hammering on the road.
As I live only five minutes from where the unsealed section starts, it seemed like a good place to include in a test of the Landcruiser 200 VX Twin Turbo V8 Diesel which I’d picked up from Darwin’s Bridge Toyota. I can tell you that I was pretty keen to test the suspension on the new vehicle.
My current vehicle is a Landcruiser 100 Series V8 Sahara, a pretty scmick car, just quietly, and with amazing suspension. Although the VX is not quite the top of the range, all three models in the 200 Series (others being GLX and Sahara) are equipped with the new Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS). Only on the Twin Diesel GLX, is KDSS optional. Toyota explains KDSS as follows:
An easy way to picture how the KDSS works is to imagine holding two syringes connected by a tube. When you push one syringe up, the other one goes down and vice versa – that’s what happens when driving in uneven terrain. If you push both at the same time, nothing happens, the pressure is equal – that’s what happens when you’re driving on road. KDSS uses a hydraulic system to optimise both on and off road suspension performance through enhanced operation of stabiliser bars on road, and increased wheel articulation off road.
Basically, when a wheel drops while driving off road, such as over corrugations, KDSS uses a hydraulic system (pressure from the wheel/s that still have contact) to push the dropping wheel down. Now that’s impressive. There’s more to the suspension story with the new Landcruiser: it also incorporates independent double wishbone front suspension and a four-link coil rigid live axle rear suspension.
Enough of the technical jargon; obviously, the new ‘Cruiser is designed to drive smoother, safer and at faster speeds, both on and off the road. When I picked the test vehicle up, Steve Harris, CEO at Bridge Toyota, said: “Alex, you won’t believe the difference in the drive.” Big call to make to the owner of a late model V8 Sahara.
No point mucking around — I hit the dirt at 120kmh, intent on checking out what this big girl was all about. Immediately there were corrugations; admittedly not nearly as bad as I’d experienced a couple of times before on the Gunn Point Road, but more than bad enough to evaluate the vehicle. Put simply, the big girl seemed to glide over the ruts. It was a cushion ride. With all the build up and hype about KDSS, and Steve’s you won’t believe the difference comment, I suppose I would have been disappointed if the ride had not been as amazing as it was.
We’re talking 25km of dirt to the beach, and we were there in a flash, rounding a few sweeping bends along the way without an inkling of body roll.
As this was a dealership demo vehicle, I didn’t want to go to any extremes checking out its four-wheel-drive capabilities and risking panel damage. I didn’t need to. All models in the 200 Series incorporate Active Traction Control (A-TRC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), both of which can be overridden. These features were standard in the 100 Series Sahara, and I understand how much they contribute to the vehicle’s safe performance off road but also on road.
In terms of off road capabilities, new to the 200 Series are:
• The new CRAWL control system on petrol models, which automatically maintains a low, uniform speed to enable stable driving in extreme environments or on slippery, uneven surfaces. Toyota describes it as akin to an off-road Cruise Control.• Downhill Assist Control (DAC), is standard with diesel engines, enabling a uniform speed on steep descents by automatically controlling the braking force.• Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) is standard on both engines, and detects backward sliding when going uphill, allowing smooth takeoff, even on steep terrain. • A brand new Multi-terrain Anti-skid Braking System (ABS) not only prevents the wheels from locking, it can actively sense off-road conditions such as ice, sand, mud, gravel and dirt, adapting to different terrain for optimum braking power. On-road Performance & Safety The test vehicle was fitted with the new 4.5L V8 Twin Turbo Diesel with 6-speed automatic transmission, and uses only 10.3L/100km. Quite remarkable when you think about it. Mind you, you won’t get that sort of consumption if you plant your foot at the lights and burn off the sedan next to you. But it sure is fun doing it in a big Tojo.
The petrol version has a 4.7L V8 VVT-I engine with 5-speed automatic transmission. This petrol engine is 18% more powerful than its predecessor, yet uses 10% less fuel.
New safety features include up to 10 airbags, depending on the model. And all models have collision-impact-absorbing front structures which dissipate impact forces around the passenger compartment. It’s safety features like these that give you that extra comfort when you take the family for a drive.
FEATURES Leather seat trim STD - Full seat face leather trim STD Leather bound gear knob STD Leather bound steering wheel STD Air conditioning STD - Auto/Climate control air cond. STD - Dual front zone air cond. STD Push button heater controls STD Moonroof STD - Electric moonroof operation STD - See-thru moonroof STD Power windows STD - Front and rear power windows STD Driver’s vanity mirror STD - Illuminated drivers vanity mirror STD Passenger’s vanity mirror STD - Illuminated passenger vanity mirror STD SAFETY Anti-Skid Brakes (ABS) STD - Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) STD - Brake Assist (BA) STD Traction control STD Vehicle Stability/Swerve Control (VSC) STD Global Outstanding Assessment body (GOA) STD Toyota Safe-T-Cell STDDriver’s SRS airbag STD Front passenger SRS airbag STDFront seat side airbags STD - Seat mounted front seat side airbags STD - Front seat side curtain airbags STD Rear/2nd row airbags STD - Seat mounted rear/2nd row seat side airbags STD - Rear/2nd row seat side curtain airbags STD Driver’s pre-tensioner seatbelt STDDriver’s forcelimiter seatbelt STD Front passenger pre-tensioner seatbelt STD Front passenger forcelimiter seatbelt STD Height adjustable front seatbelts STD 2nd row/rear seat centre position lap/sash seatbelt STD 3rd row lap/sash outboard seatbelts STD 3rd row centre lap/sash seatbelt STD 2nd row/rear seat ALR outboard seatbelts for child seats STD 2nd row/rear seat ALR centre seatbelt for child seat STD SOUND SYSTEM AM/FM Radio STD CD player STD - CD changer in cabin STD - 6 Disc CD changer STD Number of speakers 6 Aerial - Mounted in glass STD DRIVETRAIN Driven Wheels 4WD Transmission Type 6 auto Transmission description Six speed automatic, electronically controlled with flexible lock-up torque converter on 5th and 6th gear and Artificial Intelligence shift control 4WD System Constant 4WD Dual Range Trans Dual range Diff lock - centre diff STD
SECURITY Engine immobiliser STD Alarm system STD - Boot, bonnet and door alarm monitoring STD Central locking / Power door locks STD - Includes boot/tailgate unlock with central locking STD - Remote/Keyless central locking STD Lockable glovebox STD Remote fuel lid release STD Security coded radio STD VEHICLE COMMUNICATIONS Power accessory socket STD Bluetooth capability for mobile phone STD BRAKES Front Brakes Ventilated discs 340x32 Rear Brakes Ventilated discs 345x18 Anti-Skid Brakes (ABS) STD - Electronic Brake-force Distribution STD - Brake Assist STD Traction Control STD Vehicle Stability/Swerve Control (VSC) STD ENGINE Engine type Diesel Engine capacity (cc) 4461 Engine description V8/DOHC/4V Forced induction system Turbo Maximum Power 195kW @ 3400rpm Maximum Torque 650Nm @ 1600rpm (Note: Power and Torque test standards differ. Ensure comparisons use same test standard.) Configuration V-formation Valvetrain DOHC Number of valves per cylinder 4v Fuel system Direct injection - Fuel type Diesel Intercooler Air to air Fuel economy ADR 81/01 Test standard - Combined (L/100km) 10.3 (Note: Fuel economy varies with driving conditions/style, vehicle conditions, options and accessories.) STEERING Steering type Rack and pinion Steering operation Power assisted Turning Circle at Kerb 11.8 SUSPENSION Front Suspension Independent double wishbone with gas dampers, coil springs and hydro-mechanical semi active anti-roll bar. Rear Suspension Live axle, trailing arms, coil springs, Panhard rod, gas dampers and hydro mechanical semi active anti roll bar. Test vehicle supplied by Bridge Toyota Darwin Phone: 08 8946 0000 Web: www.bridgetoyota.com.au