Australians don’t like change. It’s what makes the 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series, tested here in its pinnacle Sahara ZX form, one of the most controversial, talked about vehicles to ever hit our shores.
This new specification, added to the range alongside the GR Sport variant, tops the new look large SUV’s six strong offering. We’re not sure why we needed a second Sahara, it just adds confusion, but there you have it. This is the new king of the beasts.
Now, whether you’re a Toyota fan or not, the LandCruiser is synonymous with being a tough, reliable, go-anywhere, heavy hauling mean machine (after some upgrades). Critics of the new model would say it’s lost its soul though, with the scrapping of the V8 donk.
The 4.5-litre V8 diesel has been replaced with a 3.3-litre twin turbo V6 diesel, with the new motor offering more power and better torque at 227kW and 700Nm. It’s paired to a 10-speed auto and fulltime four-wheel drive.
The V6 has got some pep to it too, and while the V8 was no slouch, this new powertrain gets up and boogies. The 10-speed is smooth and precise, unlike some of its rivals, although we were unable to test this under heavy towing.
Toyota claims 8.9-litres/100km in the fuel economy stakes, but real world testing saw numbers closer to 12.6-litres/100km. Still not bad. On the road, the 300 Series is comfortable and reasonably quiet.
On some surfaces, it rides like it’s on a cloud, but find the right (or wrong) road, throw in a few potholes, and the big Toyota feels every bit the body-on-frame car it is. The rigid rear axle doesn’t follow as faithfully as the independent front, causing occasional shudders.
The suspension feels way too soft, no matter the setting. In Comfort and Normal modes, it’s roly poly, with only Sport S and Sport S+ sharpening things up. The latter two bring their own nuances, with these two modes changing throttle, steering and the transmission.
As a result, drivability becomes weirder in normal traffic. The steering is super-light, making it super easy to throw into a tight spot, but the overall driving experience feels wafty, like it’s disjointed or disconnected even.
On the towing front, there’s 3500kg braked towing capacity, and 750kg unbraked. The Sahara ZX is around 130kg lighter than the previous 200 Series too, delivering a Gross Combined Mass of 6750kg.
The Sahara ZX has a payload of 670kg, but throw in five hefty lads at 100kg each, and there’s 170kg left for luggage and whatever gear you need to take with you. That’s the non-towing version too.
Throw something big on the 350kg tow ball, and that gets less pretty again. The 300 Series maximum payload when towing is a whopping 320kg. Now you do the math. We can’t stress enough the importance of going over your weights, especially if you want to be insured.
This isn’t a first for Toyota either, but it is the nature of the beast. Like its predecessors, the 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series Sahara ZX is trying to be many things to many people, and practicality wins out over capability in this case.
Inside though, the 300 Series is a pretty thing, offering a far more modern and plush experience than ever before. The changes start with a 12.3-inch infotainment screen. It’s new, but the graphics and the 360-degree camera are still pretty average.
Wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also features, although we’d expect the wireless variety given the spec level. It does score a 14-speaker JBL audio system with AM/FM or DAB radio, Bluetooth, and even a CD/DVD player though.
In the back, there’s a pair of 11.6-inch rear entertainment touchscreens that are also phone-mirroring capable. Headphones aren’t standard anymore though, which is understandable in the era of the earbud.
The driver also faces a pair of analogue dials, with a 7.0-inch information display between the two. Key details are also projected on the colour head-up display. A full digital dash would have been far better suited to what’s supposed to be a luxury car.
The Sahara ZX offers a 5-seat layout only, with the upside being a huge amount of luggage space. A whopping 1,131-litres can be had with the seats up, and 2,052-litres with them down. Toyota has also removed the split tailgate, opting for a lift up door.
You do gain a little more shade over your head when it’s open, and a pair of speakers in the tailgate mean you can listen to tunes while your having your lunch in the forest. The new model takes a leap forward in safety too.
Autonomous emergency braking for pedestrians and cyclists, intersection turn assist, adaptive cruise control with full stop and go, front and rear surround view for parking and off-roading, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring all feature.
There’s also ten airbags, a pair of ISOFIX child seat mounts and automatic high beam, lane keep and lane departure assist (the latter uses the old ‘yaw assist’ system, which is not only strange, but behind the times).
The system is easily confused in areas where multiple lines exist, or if you cross intersections with cross-markings, jabbing the brakes when you’d least like it to do so, and jabbing them hard.
Parking in a spot with a bollard in-front or behind is an interesting experience too. For 2022, the LandCruiser also comes with Toyota Connected Services, providing an SOS button and vehicle tracking, should you require either.
Overall, there are plenty of good things about the new 300 Series LandCruiser, but there are also some bad ones. Whether those issues, like the fact the bonnet seems to ripple at speed, will be fixed in future iterations is hard to know.
We say this because orders for the 2022 LandCruiser 300 Series, in any form, are currently suspended (quite possibly permanently), due to incredibly long waits for vehicles (said to be up to four years).
The 2022 LandCrusier 300 Series Sahara ZX is priced at $138,790 (plus on-roads) and comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and three years of Toyota Connected Services. Servicing is capped at $375 per service for up to five years.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series Sahara ZX, contact your local Toyota dealer.