IT’S a Japanese work horse that’s been a favourite with Australian farmers, fleets and mining companies since it was created in 1984. The 2019 Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series GXL (single cab) continues to play hard, but work harder.
Although it comes packing a 4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel, producing 151kW of power and 430Nm of torque, the 79 Series Landcruiser is definitely a work horse, not a sports car. it’s got some good pulling power, but it won’t get you anywhere in a hurry.
The V8 under the hood is also not the same spec as the one found in the 200 Series Landcruiser, with Toyota deciding to remove some of the fruity goodness, and keep the 79 lean and extra reliable.
The power plant is coupled to a 5-speed manual gearbox, and there’s no auto option across the range. And yes, we really did say 5-speed. No 6-speed manual here, making for a revvy experience, especially when cruising at 110km/h on the highway.
Cruising at 100 or 110km/h is a loud event. With the engine revving hard, turbo always on boost, wind noise from the windscreen, snorkel and massive wing mirrors, it makes the 79 Series a very loud place to be. It’s almost to the point of having to wear ear muffs.
The rev pattern feels wrong. Let’s just say you can cruise in fifth gear at 60km/h with out any labouring, and when the turbo is hanging on boost all the time, it gets old real quick, and eventually simply becomes annoying.
Some improvements have been made over previous versions though, with second and fifth gears having been lengthened. This has resulted in an engine that spins a bit slower when you are cruising down the highway. Well sort of, it’s an improvement.
Driving the 79 Series is fairly easy, with controls close to your finger tips. That being said don’t expect the 79 to turn on a dime, as the turning circle is terrible, so terrible that the Queen Mary II could navigate a three point turn better. It’s baffling.
On the inside things are a little well, old school. It’s like stepping back into the 80s, with a no frills dash, hard wearing but comfortable cloth seats, and small storage spaces. Basically, it’s ready for work.
The GXL is the upmarket model, offering power windows, Bluetooth connectivity and an electric antenna. You also get carpet instead of vinyl flooring. In addition, there’s air conditioning and cruise control.
Visually, there’s a chrome grille and bumper, roof drip-rails, and snorkel. It has a lockable glove box, a two-speaker audio system, with AM/FM tuner and a 12-volt power socket. It’s also got active traction control and hill start assist, with ABS.
The 2019 Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series GXL also gets front and rear differential lockers as standard, for when things really get muddy or loose. Storage is limited to the glove box, centre console, and some skinny hard plastic door pockets, for the most part.
There is some space behind the front seat, if you flip that forward, but it’s not a whole lot of room. In reality, the 79 Series is the single cab ute you’re looking for, when you don’t want a super modern ute. It’s old school through and through.
That said, it plays superbly well to its strengths, and it doesn’t give a rat’s arse about its weakness, perceived or actual. We should note the current 79 Series Landcruiser is nearing the end of its life, as it is struggling to keep pace with rising safety expectations.
Customer demands for some new creature comforts has, rumour has it, prompted a top secret mission to design a new model. The challenge for Toyota will be to build on the rugged goodness of the current model, and inject it with modern features.
The ‘expected’ date for something new could be as far away as 2022 or 2023 though. Until then, we have the 2019 Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series GXL. It’s available in French Vanilla, Silver Pearl, Graphite, Merlot Red, Sandy Taupe, Vintage Gold and Midnight Blue.
Our 2019 Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series GXL (single cab) was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more, contact your nearest Toyota dealer.