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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.

Serious Off-roading

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:


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