2023 Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3,3 V6D GR Sport
The new Land Cruiser becomes more civilised while staying true to its roots
Tough love 2023 Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3,3 V6D GR Sport
No doubt, by the time you read this road test, you will have digested plenty of rhetoric regarding the Land Cruiser’s storied past and reputation for hard-as-nails, go anywhere ability. So, we’ll spare you the history lesson and focus on the present. The latest iteration of Toyota’s halo SUV has landed, bringing with it new engines, an all-new platform and a knee-buckling weight of expectation to build on the luxury and terrain-conquering credentials of its forebears. We got behind the wheel of what Toyota considers the most off-road-focused model in the LC300 lineup – the 3,3 V6 turbodiesel in GR Sport specification – to see if these changes will add to or erode that impressive legacy.
In GR Sport guise, the LC300 is a link to the past as well as a look to the future rolled into an eye-catching package. Toyota’s Dakar outfit is hoping to compete in the 2023 edition of the iconic off-road race with a vehicle based on what you see here. This has ushered in GR Sport-specific improvements such as modifications to the suspension arm placement and shock absorbers, revised bumper designs and the adoption of EKDSS and electronic diff-locks, but more on those a bit later. Aesthetically, it has lent the GR Sport a sportier air than its relatively more utilitarian GX-R and upmarket ZX stablemates.
The gaping honeycombed grille emblazoned with Toyota and GR Sport decals certainly had a few bystanders’ heads swivelling in our direction, and the grey 18-inch alloys and black finishes for the wheelarches, door handles, mirrors and rocker mouldings are neat additional touches. The cabin is similarly sporty, with model-specific upholstery and decals for the steering wheel and seats. In ergonomic terms, there’s little to complain about.The seats are comfortably contoured, there are acres of space fore and aft, although the third row remains the preserve of kids and occasional adult passengers, and perceived quality is impressive. A glance at the features checklist reveals the LC300 wants for precious little: keyless entry and go,multi-zone climate control, park distance control and Multi- Terrain Monitor, which uses a bank of camera feeds to stream a comprehensive picture of terrain conditions to the 12,3-inch smartphone-enabled touchscreen infotainment system.
Traditionalists may lament the departure of V8 powerplants from the new Land Cruiser line-up.
While it’s true there are few things more appealing than the throaty burble of an eight-cylinder engine rumbling from a big SUV’s innards, it bears mentioning the new 3,3-litre V6 turbodiesel is by no means a step backwards in the Cruiser’s evolution. Developing 225 kW and a stump-pulling 700 N.m from just 1 600 r/min, the new unit’s outputs comfortably surpass the 195 kW and 650 N.m produced by the outgoing 4,5-litre V8 turbodiesel. The top speed remains 210 km/h but given the 2,4 tonnes against which this unit has to work, the 8,23-second zero to 100 km/h time we gleaned during performance testing was respectable, as was 9,97 L/100 km returned on our mixed-use fuel economy route.
Like many of Toyota’s newer offerings, the LC300 is the recipient of one of the group’s TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platforms; in this case, TNGA-F denotes a ladder-frame- based take on the modular underpinnings. This setup neatly amalgamates the strengths of a traditional ladder-frame SUV chassis (greater torsional integrity for such hardcore off-roading requirements as enhanced axle articulation) with those of the TNGA platform (modularity-realised reduction in production costs and improved architecture that results in a 200 kg reduction in weight over the last model). Of particular interest in this GR Sport model is the updated suspension, comprising a high-mounted double-wishbone front and trailing-link, rigid-axle rear setup complemented by adaptive dampers and E-KDSS (Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System).The latter essentially modulates the actions of the front and rear anti-roll bars between normal intervention, which counters body roll under spirited on-road driving, and lessened engagement in heavier offroading to allow for greater axle articulation when required.
The driving experience is similarly both old and new school. Anyone who has spent time behind the wheel of the previous model will attest to the new car’s handling characteristics not being all that far-removed. That’s to say the Cruiser doesn’t handle with the aplomb of a monocoque-bodied SUV when pressed hard.
The hydraulically assisted steering is light and the body control – as expected of a ladder-chassis with considerable suspension travel – errs on the floaty side. Although, the new underpinnings make it feel more composed and alert than its predecessor. It remains an eminently comfortable and refined drive. That suspension effortlessly soaks up road scars that would set many of its rivals shuddering with buttery-smooth shifts from the 10-speed automatic ‘box and NVH is impressively suppressed at motorway speeds.
It feels pretty much unstoppable off-road. The Multi- Terrain Select system tailors the throttle, transmission, suspension and traction management systems within the parameters of six presets – Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow and Rock – while the GR Sport’s E-KDSS system works hard to keep all four wheels in contact with the ground for as long as possible. Front and rear electronically locking differentials make the most of the available traction. The off-roading assistance systems do an impressive job of shielding occupants from what’s going on under the Cruiser’s wheels. Even with E-KDSS engaged, which keeps the anti-roll bars in their most yielding setting, those ruts and bumps that you would normally brace for seem to be tamped flat under the Cruiser’s hefty frame without the anticipated jostling.
In a world where change all too often takes place for change’s sake, it’s both refreshing and a relief to see the new Land Cruiser has adhered closely to the winning formula of its recent forebears, merely refining what needed to be polished. Of course, there are large SUVs that will show the LC300 a thing or two on twisting blacktop, but few can balance practicality, luxury and off-road ability in quite the same way. Factor in what are likely bombproof mechanicals and it is little wonder the Cruiser’s appeal shows no sign of abating.
01 The cabin is a soothing blend of chunky off-road controls and premium finishes. You’ll want for nothing with the excellently specified GR Sport model and there is acres of space.
02 & 04 The GR Sportmodel lends the LC300 amore pronounced air of sportiness than the utilitarian GX-R and upmarket ZX.
03 A new 10-speed torque converter is the transmission we’ve been waiting for from Toyota.
- Price: R1811900
- 0-62mph (0-100 km/h): 8,23
- Top speed: 210 km/h
- Max Power: 225 kW
- Max Torque: 700 N.m
- CAR fuel index: 10,68 L/100km
- CO2: 238 g/km
Builds upon the virtues of its tough-as-nails successor without diluting its appeal — Gareth Dean
Impressive in all departments … and it’s a Toyota, which means it will last forever — Ray Leathern
- Cylinders: V6, longitudinal
- Fuel supply: electronic common-rail direct injection, turbocharged, intercooled, diesel
- Bore/stroke: 86,0/96,0 mm
- Cubic capacity: 3 346 cm3
- Compression ratio: 15,4 to 1
- Valvegear: d-o-h-c, four valves per cylinder
- Max power ISO: 225 kW
- Power peak/Red line: 4 000/5 000rpm
- Max torque: 700 N.m
- Torque peak: 1 600-2 600rpm
- Type: ten-speed automatic
- 1st gear/2nd gear: 4,92/3,26 to 1
- 3rd gear/4th gear: 2,35/1,94 to 1
- 5th gear/6th gear: 1,53/1,19 to 1
- 7th gear/8th gear: 1,00/0,80 to 1
- 9th gear/Top gear: 0,66/0,61 to 1
- Reverse gear: 4,31 to 1
- Final drive: 3,31 to 1
- Drive wheels: all
- Driver aids: ESC (electronic stability control), hill start
- Front: 345 mm ventilated discs
- Rear: 335 mm ventilated discs
- Hydraulics: ABS with EBD and EBA
WHEELS AND TYRES
- Tyre make: Dunlop Grandtrek AT30
- Tyre size: 265/65 R18
- Spare – type and location: full-size alloy, under boot body
- Type: rack and pinion, hydraulic power assist
- Lock to lock: 3,0 turns
- Turning circle diameter: 11,8 m
Front: independent, double wishbone, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear: trailing-link, coil springs, rigid-axle
WARRANTY & SERVICE INTERVALS
3-year/100 000 km warranty
9 services/90 000 km service plan
Service every 10 000 km
Oil filter: R326,00 Air filter: R779,40 Left headlamp: R54 620,00
Left rear tyre: R4 589,00 Windscreen: R12 023,00 Brake pads
(front set): R1 942,27 Camchain (incl. tensioner): R3 354,30
Total parts basket: R89 225,89
Test conditions**: Ambient temp/barometric press: 31 °C/1 016 hPa Test car’s odometer: 6 294 km
Manufacturer’s figure: 210 km/h
Best/worst stop: 2,89/3,51
Average of 10 stops/rating: 3,07/good
Average stopping distance: 40,84 m
10 stops from 100 km/h measured in seconds
Fuel tank: 80+30 litres
Est. tank range (fuel index): 1 029 km
Taxable CO2 rating: 238 g/km
Power/mass: 86 W/kg Power/litre: 67 kW/litre
Torque/litre: 209 N.m/litre Cabin noise level at idle: 41 dD
Engine speed (at true 120 km/h in top gear): 1 651 r/min
Airbags: front/side/curtain/knee Air-con: quad-zone climate Audio system: radio/aux-in/USB/Bluetooth/Android Auto + Apple CarPlay Cruise control: standard, adaptive Sat-nav: standard Park assist: standard
Windows: all-electric Trip computer: standard Driver seat adjust: electric, incl. height Folding
rear seat: 40:20:40 split Upholstery: leather Isofix anchorages: outer rear Steering adjust:
electric rake + reach Steering audio controls: standard Tyre sensors: standard Wipers auto-on:
standard Headlamps auto-on: standard
Head-up display: standard