BEST TESTS ’22: It’s Dated. But That’s What Land Cruiser 70 is All About
Life would not be life without legends to live up to. Whether it be a sportsman, a star or a car, kids need pin-ups to paste on the wall, idols to adore and heroes to follow. There’s a legend in every walk of life and when it comes to 4x4s, not much to matcehs the original Toyota Land Cruiser. Now it’s celebrating its 70th anniversary in markets lucky enough to offer it. And celebrate is precisely what we did.
Cruiser 70 is Old School Awesome
Old school and awesome in its most unique own right, the classic Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Station Wagon, 78 Wagon and this 79 Bakkie are the very epitome of legend. But before we test this hearing aid beige example of the 70th Birthday Special, let’s first consider a little Land Cruiser history. For starters, do you know that Toyota has built and sold well over ten million Land Cruisers over the past 70 years?
Which means this 70th Anniversary Cruiser is big news. Launched way back in 1951, Toyota’s first powerful 4×4 BJ ‘Land Cruiser’ was a military ute. BJ soon earned itself an enviable go-anywhere reputation, which led to the first civilian Land Cruiser arriving as a Jeep and Land Rover rival in ’54. The Cruiser brand since built on its rugged, reliable, durable off-road core DNA as the range grew significantly to include pick-ups, wagons, station wagons and luxury SUVs.
Toyota has always promised that a Land Cruiser will take people anywhere and everywhere. Today, even models discontinued many moons ago, remain in daily service across the globe and the Land Cruiser brand today resonates stronger than ever. The entire range, from this utility 70 Series to the family oriented Prado and flagship 300, continues to outsell demand, month in and month out. In typical Toyota fashion.
The 70th Birthday Special
But this is all about the 70th birthday Special Edition of the venerable 70 Series. Which leads us to the significance of the number 70 in Land Cruiser lore. First off, 70 refers to the long running Land Cruiser 70-series in those three 76, 78 and 79 incarnations. 70 of course also right now refers to the celebration 70-years of Cruiser. And in this case, 70 also refers to special edition kit applied to new 79-series single and double-cabs to celebrate those 70 years.
Set apart by Toyota spelled out bold across its signature mesh radiator grille, the 70th Birthday Cruiser also has a winch-ready custom heavy-duty tubular steel front bumper. The’s a neat 40-series Cruiser-like badge on the doors too, and moving to the rear, you find a tubular rear step bumper with detachable tow bar. The load bay is also both rubberised and fitted with a 3 mm bed protector.
Step inside and besides a relatively modern dash fascia, you’d be excused for believing you’re driving a ‘70s Hilux. Those ancient climate control sliders come from a bygone age, while good old buttons, knobs and levers do most of the transferring, selection and switching on and off of things. But wait! Lo and behold, thee’s a new-millennium Touchscreen audio system complete with navigation and bluetooth mounted centrally on the dash!
Browning Safety On
The seats are supportive and quite comfortable. But it’s hard and austere in there. Which is exactly what you’d expect, wouldn’t you? It has a driver and passenger airbags, and ABS braking. But don’t ask about the safety rating. Somehow we think that certain customers would rather want to know how to fix a rocket launcher or a Browning to the load bay floor, than how the thing shapes up against a NCAP wall…
Still available in the good old straight six diesel and also a 4-litre petrol V6, this 79 4.5D-4D LX V8 double cab 70th Anniversary has Toyota’s 151 kW 430 Nm 4.5-litre turbodiesel V8 under the bonnt. It rumbles to life courtesy of another device you’d be forgiven for believing was extinct. A key you slot in and twist to ignite it. The V8 has a friendly tone. Clutch action is solid, the stick shifter selects its five cogs with distinction and Cruiser gets on with it, with some aplomb.
Not the quickest bakkie on the block by any means, Cruiser 70 trundles to 100 km/h in thirteen and a half, or so seconds. It gos on to clip the quarter mile in 19.1 seconds at 121 mph. Yes, that does matter to some of us. As it does that it actually got to 160 km/h. Eventually! It cruises thunderously on the open road. Even if you sense it’s crying for an overdrive sixth.
The Further Off the Tarmac the Better!
Truth be told, the freeway is not at all where Cruiser excels. It’s everywhere else but there that matters to this King of Africa and anywhere else that must still develop a little. In fact, the further you take the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 4.5D-4D LX V8 double cab 70th Anniversary off the tarmac, the better!
It prefers motoring in 4×4 low range too. its bst at home crawling unstoppably over rocks, though mud and in the sand. No need to report too much on that — this is probably as close to the world utility standard as you can get, anyway. And it tows exceptionally. You don’t even know the trailer is back there. Just make sure that the ball height is correct.
Some countries do not get the Land Cruiser 70 Series. South Africa does. Yes, in many ways it’s old fashioned and dated. But what the hell, that’s precisely what makes this thing such a legend. And this 70th Anniversary Special comes with enough cool extra and all the kudos to fully warrant its 80 grand premium over the basic one. It comes packing all the kit you’d probably throw at it anyway.
What the Cruiser 70 is all About
Yes, in many ways this almost million buck Land Cruiser 79 is old and dated. It doesn’t matter if that makes no sense to you It just means that this one’s not for you. But to those of us who do understand, this bakkie is still great value. And that’s what the Cruiser 70 is all about. – Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Toyota Land Cruiser 79 4.5 LX V8 DC 70th Anniversary Engine: 151 kW 430 Nm 4.5-litre turbodiesel 4x4 Drive: 5-speed manual 4x4 Payload: 1,000 kg Braked Towing: 3,500 kg TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 5.82 sec 0-100 km/h: 13.28 sec 0-120 km/h: 18.43 sec 0-160 km/h: 37.19 sec 400m: 19.1 sec @ 121 km/h 80-120 km/h: 9.50 sec 120-160 km/h: 19.27 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 160 km/h Fuel: 11.9 l/100 km CO2: 313 g/km Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/Optional LIST PRICE: R981K RATED: 9