THE 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series Wagon, in its 70th Anniversary form, is outdated and rowdy, yet charming like nothing else we’ve ever driven. Toyota has stayed faithful to the traditional off-roader recipe; it’s old school rock and roll.
Though the 300 Series is a tech-fest on wheels, with leather seats, various drive modes, the latest gadgets and creature comforts, the 70 Series is Toyota’s rugged off-roader that retains the simplicity of its 1984 ancestor.
This year marks the 70th birthday of the LandCruiser nameplate, so Toyota is celebrating with just 600 examples of this special edition, including the 76 Wagon tested here, and the 79 Single and Double Cab Chassis variants.
All you really need to know though, is that every Anniversary vehicle is based on the flagship GXL trim, which means that most goodies come as standard.
And while at first glance, it looks like a closed in version of a cashed-up tradie’s Workmate, it found a place in our hearts. The black heritage grille, front bumper and flared wheel arches help separate this wolf from the herd.
The cosmetics continue with black 16-inch alloys, tinted headlight bezels, LED daytime running-lights and of course, anniversary badges. Buyers have the choice between three colours – French Vanilla, Sandy Taupe and stunning Merlot Red (as tested).
It received significant attention on the road, which could be attributed to the flashy paintwork and “pavement princess” cleanliness.
But with the aerodynamics of a refrigerator, a spare wheel on the tailgate, and a snorkel, the 70 Series Wagon is inappropriate, ostentatious and brash, in the city – and we love it.
While Toyota’s competitors have downsized their engines to pursue fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, the 70 Series line-up has retained its aging but charismatic 4.5-litre turbo diesel V8 from 2007.
You will soon learn that firing up the behemoth is not only an occasion for you, but for your neighbours as well. Of course, their opinion matters not as this is one of the best sounding off-roaders currently on sale today.
The engine produces 151kW of power and 430Nm of torque, which should be enough for most buyers. You should know that even without any cargo, the Wagon is a tad slow off the line, but once it’s chugged its way up to speed, it’ll overtake without a hiccup.
The five-speed manual transmission is dead-easy to operate thanks to a distinct biting point, long shifter and a low idle speed near the 600rpm mark. While the gearing is good, it could benefit from a sixth, overdrive gear on the motorway.
We struggled to achieve Toyota’s claimed highway fuel economy of 10.7-litres/100km though, but at least it was comfortable. Well, yes and no. You hear almost everything, including wind noise and the engine fan.
Some enthusiasts might appreciate the audible mechanics, as well as the sound of the snorkel at lower speeds, which sounds like Darth Vader’s respirator, but many won’t.
Despite using a steel ladder chassis and live axles, the LandCruiser is surprisingly comfortable to drive too, both around town and in the countryside. The deeper potholes will give you a good jolt, but other than that, the ride is reasonable.
The steering could be a tad heavier and feel more connected, but frankly we’re nit-picking at this point; you’ll survive.
Low range is simple to engage and the system works as intended. As we never properly abused the 70 Series Wagon on a rocky mountain, we didn’t really feel the need leave 2H/two-wheel-drive.
However, H4 probably saved our skins on slippery dirt and gravel roads during torrential rain. It’s no class leader but the 230mm ground clearance, 700mm wading depth and 33-degree approach angle should be plenty for most adventurers.
Entering the LandCruiser is a breeze thanks to wide running boards and sturdy grab handles. It’s easy to find a comfortable seating position and the overall visibility is outstanding.
Apart from that, it’s a back-to-basics interior with very little in the way of technology. The touchscreen infotainment is intuitive but it suffers from slight input delay, making it a faff to operate while driving.
Some interior sections felt robust while others wobbled like they were missing a screw or two. A few plastics were a little on the cheap side too, particularly the door handles and switchgear.
Certain pretentious journalists may whine over said plastics, but we found comfort in knowing that these parts will be affordable to replace in the future. The ‘70th Anniversary’ wood panelling on the dashboard made the cabin feel special, but not overly so.
Head down the back and throw open the barn doors at the rear, and you are greeted by a relatively vast and flat cargo area. A few tie-down points can help you anchor your luggage and you can also stow the second row for increased space.
Your mates over 180cm will appreciate the tall roof but may struggle with legroom. With no ISOFIX points, charging ports or cupholders in the rear, the LandCruiser isn’t exactly ideal for family road trips either.
Frankly, you wouldn’t want anyone in the rear seats anyways for safety reasons (or lack thereof). The Wagon is fitted with just two airbags and it misses out on the latest safety gadgets, including parking sensors, a reversing camera and blind spot monitoring.
The regular 70 Series GXL (76 Series Wagon) kicks off at a hair over $70,000, but this Anniversary model will set you back a cool $78,500. Of course, that’s nothing compared to used listings that are demanding more than $130,000.
We strongly suggest that you avoid such advertisements and find an example closer to the original asking price. Even then, it is hefty change for a vehicle that uses an ancient formula and offers very little in the form of comfort and safety.
The Wagon makes little sense from a financial perspective, but it defies logic: it’s an emotional purchase. You could follow the crowd and buy something refined, modern and more capable. But only a few rugged haulers can make you smile like an idiot while driving.
She’s flawed, loud and occasionally impractical – she’s the one.
You can find out more about the new 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series on the Toyota Australia website, and it’s worth shopping dealerships to see if you can get a good price. Alternatively, you can take a look at a platform like PriceMyCar to get the best deal.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series Wagon – 70th Anniversary edition, contact your local Toyota dealer.