- Throaty and grunty V8 diesel engine
- Reasonably spacious for its size
- Good off-road ability with locking diffs
- Poor value for money with little standard kit
- Very dated on the inside
- Really needs a sixth gear
When someone says ‘Toyota Land Cruiser’, what do you think of? Dependable, rugged and endlessly reliable? Well, if those were your answers then you’d be correct. For years, Australians have chosen Land Cruisers to get around our vast country – if you live off the beaten track or in a country town then the 70 Series especially suits. Now in its 37th year of production, the 70 Series has seen a good run in Australia and still selling in good numbers. We tested the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series to see if this dependable workhorse still has a place on Aussie roads.
Price & Specs: 5/10
There are two different models in the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series range. There is the $67,400 plus on road costs entry level ‘Workmate’ model which 16-inch steel wheels, a 6.1-inch colour touch screen (the model we photographed was a 2020 so it missed out on this) with satellite navigation and live traffic updates, a four-speaker stereo system, Bluetooth, cruise control, auto locking hubs, a snorkel, vinyl seat trim, manual halogen headlamps, all-weather floor mats, air-conditioning and remote central locking.
The range-topping 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series GXL (tested here) is priced at $71,500 plus on-road costs and gains front and rear differential locks, 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, over-fender flares, a chrome radiator grille, chrome roof drip rails, a power antenna, cloth seat trim, floor carpet, driver and passenger door map pockets and power windows over the Workmate. We think choosing the GXL over the Workmate is a worthy upgrade for the extra $4,100.
Standard safety kit for the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series GXL includes ABS, traction and stability control, electronic brake force distribution and dual airbags. That’s it. No auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, etc. While the appeal of the 76 Series is its basicness and rugged dependability, we think that it’s poor for a vehicle that still sells so well to lack any of these features.
Unfortunately, the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series does not come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, LED headlights, a reversing camera, automatic headlights, parking sensors, etc – all would be useful additions as even a basic Kia Picanto gets kit like auto lights and wireless smartphone mirroring.
Cross shopping the 76 Series is a little difficult as there isn’t really much else on the market like it. The 76 Series is quite barebones and rugged. there is cars like the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota’s own LandCruiser Prado, but other than that there isn’t much quite like the Land Cruiser 76 Series – that’s perhaps why they continue to sell so well.
The only standard colours on the Land Cruiser 76 Series are known as ‘French Vanilla’ (white) and ‘Sandy Taupe’ (beige). All other colours attract a $675 price tag and include ‘Midnight Blue’, ‘Graphite’, ‘Silver Pearl’ and our test car’s ‘Merlot Red’. Our test car also had some genuine Toyota accessories fitted, including heavy duty roof racks and the alloy roof tray.
Performance & Economy: 7/10
The standard and only engine and gearbox combo available for the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76-series is a 4.5-litre turbocharged V8 diesel mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The engine produces 151kW of power and 430Nm of torque – way down on other V8 diesel engines such as the 310kW/900Nm Volkswagen Touareg V8 TDI and even less than the four-cylinder diesel in the HiLux. But considering how legendary this engine is in off-road circles, it must be enough for most people. It sounds nice, though it’s not what you’d call fast.
There is quite a nice growl from the engine when accelerating and when getting the most out of the V8 it can move. There is a little turbo lag for the power to come on but other than that it is quite good. Driving on the freeway or on a road with a speed limit of over 100km/h you do notice that the engine does rev high, even in fifth gear. The shorter ratios do help with off-road ability, though a sixth gear is very much needed.
The gearbox is what you’d call relaxed as well. The throw between gears are long but you always know where the gears are and the clutch is heavy but still easy to operate. First gear is quite short, as with many other manual diesel cars, to keep you in the torque band.
The claimed average fuel consumption for the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series GXL is 10.7L/100km and in a mixture of highway and urban driving, we achieved a fuel consumption figure of around 12.1L/100km. Thanks to its 130L fuel tank, the 76 Series should be able to cover 1,200km+ per tank.
The braked towing capacity of the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76-series is 3,500kg, which is on par with what is offered by the current crop of dual-cab utes. The only other models that can tow more than the LandCruiser are the Chevrolet Silverado and RAM 1500 with a braked towing capacity of 4,500kg although both of these cars are more expensive than the HiLux (the Silverado starts at $114,900 and 1500 starts $79,950).
Ride & Handling: 7/10
The ride on the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series is on the firmer side thanks to its off-road suspension. Around town – especially on Sydney’s rubbish roads – it moves around and you feel every imperfections in the road. The ride is definitely tolerable but it could be softer. It also feels quite tall, and it wallows around corners with little-to-no handling prowess. It has a claimed turning circle of 12.6 metres.
No one will buy a 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76-series for its handling ability and rightly so. While we wouldn’t call it unsafe, there is quite a lot of body roll due to the high centre of gravity. You need to really think about some corners before taking them and what speed you should be going around them.
So it’s not amazing on the road, but what about off it? That’s the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series’ specialty and it’s one of the reasons that it’s still in production to this day with such little changes. Thanks to the front and rear locking differentials, the Land Cruiser 76 Series is good off-road. While many other off-road vehicles feature a whole multitude of electronics, but like LSDs in cars, mechanical engineering is superior to electronics.
The rear suspension does hang somewhat low, but Toyota claims that the LC76’s ground clearance is 230mm. Strangely, and perhaps why it’s a particularly bad handling car, the Land Cruiser 76 Series’ rear track is a whole 95mm narrower than the front. The off-road clearance is otherwise positive with a 33-degree approach angle and a 23-degree departure angle. The short 2,730mm long wheelbase helps off road too.
While its good off-road ability never ages, the Land Cruiser 76 Series’ age betrays it with heavy steering and high road noise levels, though its thin pillars do help visibility.
Interior & Practicality: 5/10
Think of 1980s Toyota switchgear and door handles and you’ll get the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series GXL. The interior layout is identical to earlier versions of the car with the same dated materials, lack of storage options and even the same air conditioning controls. Toyota recently announced that an updated 6.1-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation has been made standard kit, but it’s still an old system that pales in usability compared with the latest 8.0-inch screen in the Toyota range.
The only steering wheel controls are the cruise control functions and the only buttons on the dash are for the demister, traction control and power antenna. It is a very simple cabin. The lack of storage options is annoying too, and shows the car’s age. Places to store your items include the small centre console, the lockable glovebox, a single cupholder and small door pockets. But that’s it.
Moving to the rear seat and things are even more basic as the seat is literally just that: a seat. The space on offer is reasonable – though hardly plentiful with a decent amount of leg, knee and head room even for taller passengers. There are no rear amenities at all – no pockets, cup holders, an arm rest or charging ports.
Opening the split-barn style rear doors of the 2021 Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series reveals a large boot. Toyota do not claim exactly how big the boot is but think of a LandCruiser Prado – albeit with a more basic layout. The rear seat folds and tumbles to reveal a long and flat floor. The rear does have a payload of 795kg.
Service & Warranty: 7/10
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76-series GXL comes with the brands five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with an extra two-years on the engine. Unfortunately, Toyota does not offer any form of roadside assistance.
The Land Cruiser also comes with three years of capped price servicing. It requires being serviced every six-months or 10,000km, which is disappointing as most Toyota products have moved to 12-month/15,000km intervals. The cost of servicing the LandCruiser of the span of three-years or 60,000km is $2,160, with each service costing $360.
2021 Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series GXL DiscoverAuto Rating: 6.2/10
Despite its long list of negatives, there is clearly still a market for the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 76 Series in today’s Australia. This is largely driven by huge fleet customers – mines, etc – but many private buyers still buy these dinosaurs. Why? They’re endlessly reliable, feature excellent air-conditioning, a relaxed and grunty V8 diesel engine and thanks to two locking differentials, good off road ability as well.
Of course, there are negative parts to the 76 Series that will put many buyers off – it’s very expensive to buy, yet badly equipped, it’s ponderous on the road, dated on the inside and lacks creature comforts even from the early 2000s. It’s simple motoring for those who want simplicity in their lives of off-roading and country driving. For those people, the Land Cruiser 76 Series will be all the car that they need. Unlike other off-roaders this side of the Suzuki Jimny, the LC76 features some character as well, which we – and other enthusiasts too, no doubt – appreciate a lot.