2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series 2.8-litre review

16 minutes, 33 seconds Read

Now with four-cylinder diesel power and an automatic transmission replacing a 4.5-litre diesel V8 and five-speed manual gearbox, is the LandCruiser still the stoic workhorse we all think it is?

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What we love
  • Easier and more competent to drive
  • Smaller engine also brings better efficiency and payloads
  • Big gross combination mass in comparison to other 4×4 utes
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What we don’t
  • Suspension sags noticeably with weight in the back
  • It’s very expensive
  • Still a 40-year-old truck, in most senses

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2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series GXL Double-Cab

It’s the most controversial move Toyota has made in recent memory – adding the choice of four-cylinder diesel power to the iconic and talismanic LandCruiser 70 Series.

It’s a vehicle almost as old as time itself, whose appeal lies in the fact that it’s utterly bereft of evolution after 40 years.

While the appealing combination of a diesel V8 and five-speed manual gearbox is still available, order books are yet to open. Some are still waiting for a V8-powered LandCruiser to be delivered (and I imagine them to be like Charlie Bucket with a golden ticket), but those who want to buy a new LandCruiser 70 Series in the short term will need to look at the 2.8-litre engine option instead.

It has 1.7 litres less capacity spread across half the number of cylinders. It’s missing the rumble and the grumble, but the six-speed automatic gearbox will no doubt be appealing, along with the greater payload, increased torque, and possibility of better fuel consumption.

But does it water down the essence of the 70 Series LandCruiser? A vehicle that is undoubtedly the bedrock of success for Toyota in Australia. We are going to put it to the test and find out.

How much is a Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series?

Getting into a 79 Series LandCruiser isn’t a cheap exercise. And while this updated model might have added in some more equipment, pricing has taken an upwards stab at the same time.

Compared to the old $79,200 asking price for a V8-powered LandCruiser GXL Double-Cab, our tester starts from $83,500 with four-cylinder power.

Spare a thought for new V8 prices, however, which have jumped up by almost $10,000 with this new facelift. A comparable V8 costs $87,600 plus on-road costs.

Some new equipment that lands with this upgraded model includes LED headlights, more safety equipment, some interior upgrades and a newly introduced infotainment system.

There isn’t much out there that can do what a LandCruiser can do, in some respects. Namely, carry a full tonne of payload and still retain a 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity. Throw on top of that good off-road ability, a time-proven live axle driveline and a general reputation for durability, and you can see why they’re popular.

Calling a spade a spade, most who buy a 79 Series LandCruiser should probably spend their money on two other options: a regular four-wheel-drive ute that is significantly more comfortable and well equipped, or a light truck with more payload.

There is a subset of buyers who need the combination of off-road ability, payload and durability that the LandCruiser offers, and it works out to be a nice fit. In fact, there’s nothing else on the market quite like it.

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But, of course, many other buyers follow their heart to a 70 Series, as the ultimate expression of a no-nonsense four-wheel-drive in a modern world that has mostly moved on. They don’t need one, but they want one. And they are happy to wait, live with the compromises, and pay over the odds to do it.

Key details 2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series Double-Cab 2.8
Price $83,500 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Merlot Red
Options Metallic paint – $675
Heavy-duty steel tray – $5500 (approx)
Price as tested $89,675 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price $93,000 (approx)
Rivals Isuzu D-Max | Ineos Grenadier

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How big is a Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series?

Sitting on a 3180mm wheelbase, the length of the LandCruiser 79 Series Double-Cab measures in at 5235mm long as a cab chassis. Naturally, what you choose in terms of a tray or service body on the back could increase this number.

Otherwise, the dimensions of the LandCruiser 70 are carried over as the same since… a long time. It’s relatively narrow and tall, but despite moving back to an inline configuration engine, there is still a big disparity in wheel track front to rear.

On the inside, there are some interesting changes up front. Firstly, the automatic-equipped LandCruiser 70 Series gets some useful touches in the plastic console that surrounds the gear selector. There’s a spot for your phone and two cupholders, and GXL-spec models even get twin USB-C power outlets on the dashboard.

There are the same mechanical-style air-conditioning controls on the same old dashboard, but there are some updates to the infotainment system. Seating and ergonomics are the same as well, which are… vintage.

In the second row, it’s the same old story in this LandCruiser Double-Cab ute. Compared to contemporaries, this ute is cramped, uncomfortable and generally devoid of features. Even kids’ seats are a challenge, because there are no top-tether points. So, those who want to drag kids around will have to dip into their pocket to get some top-tether points installed (and possibly engineered).

At the back, we have a genuine Toyota galvanised steel tray that feels well made and particularly heavy-duty. The floor is solid and flat, tie-down points are aplenty, and the modular headboard feels stout.

In our previous experience, painted steel trays easily lose their protective coating through straps, tie-downs and general vibrations. The galvanised finish of this heavy-duty tray will keep the rust at bay, and might start looking a little chalky after a decade or so, but will be quite durable.

Of course, those with a bit more of a budget could look at a nice aftermarket tray, like the fabricated aluminium ones that Norweld produces, which get things like water storage, drawers and power outlets.

2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series Double-Cab 2.8
Seats Five
Wheel track (front)
Wheel track (rear)
1555mm
1460mm
Length 5235mm
Width 1870mm
Height 1945mm
Wheelbase 3180mm

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New for the LandCruiser 70 Series is a 6.7-inch infotainment display, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for the 2024 update. There’s also Bluetooth, but no native navigation, digital radio or companion app functionality. The operating system is overwhelmingly simple and basic by modern standards, but it’s still a seismic improvement over what was there before.

Unlike other recent Toyota models, the LandCruiser goes without access to Toyota Connected Services, which may not bother many, but also means access to vehicle location and stolen vehicle tracking are off the table – which could be useful.

There is an updated instrument cluster in front of the driver, which is a nice throwback to the 40 Series LandCruiser but also gives space for a small multifunction display. This means functions like digital speed, fuel economy and other trip computer basics are now accommodated. Once again, this sounds like a minor feature, which feels decidedly undercooked against the asking price. But at the same time, it’s a major update for the spartan LandCruiser.

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Is the Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series a safe car?

While the 70 Series LandCruiser Single Cab ute picked up a now-expired five-star ANCAP safety rating back in 2016 (which was in place until December 2023), the range now sits in the unrated category. While Toyota did go through some engineering efforts to facilitate a five-star ANCAP rating back then, increasingly stringent testing criteria in the modern day means the 2024 70 LandCruiser would be unlikely to get as good a score.

2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series Double-Cab 2.8
ANCAP rating Unrated

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What safety technology does the Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series have?

The safety game has moved forward for the LandCruiser, picking up lane-departure alert, traffic sign recognition, automatic high-beam headlights (which are now a more powerful LED) and off-road hill descent control.

And while wagon variants get a reverse-view camera, the genuine Toyota tray that we had fitted to our test car didn’t have that provision included.

As the graph below displays, there’s a whole lot of safety equipment – commonplace in other vehicles – that is still missing here.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) Yes Includes cyclist and pedestrian detection
Adaptive Cruise Control No
Blind Spot Alert No
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert No
Lane Assistance Yes Lane-departure warning only
Road Sign Recognition Yes
Driver Attention Warning No
Cameras & Sensors No

How much does the Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series cost to run?

Services are capped at $525 per visit and are required every six months or 10,000km. These numbers don’t change between the V8 and four-cylinder models by the way, and they give you coverage for five years and 100,000km. That costs $5250 over five years, while three years will cost $3150.

While our online insurance quote for the four-cylinder 70 Series Double-Cab came to $2281 based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male living in Chatswood, NSW. Plugging the same details in for a V8 LandCruiser showed a more expensive $2892 premium. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance 2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series Double-Cab 2.8
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Service intervals 6 months or 10,000km
Servicing costs $3150 (3 years)
$5250 (5 years)

Does the 2.8-litre LandCruiser use less fuel than the V8?

Comparing the claimed figures from the manufacturer, the four-cylinder LandCruiser is the more efficient of the two. Whereas the V8 is claimed to use 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, the combination of four cylinders and an automatic transmission trims that down to a claim of 9.6L/100km.

In our testing, which included a fair mix of town and highway driving, as well as a loop or two of loaded and towing, we saw an average that settled at 12.5L/100km.

At Toyota’s claimed consumption the four-cylinder LandCruiser has a theoretical touring range of over 1350km. Based on our tested consumption there’s still a safe 1000km between servo visits.

Fuel efficiency 2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series Double-Cab 2.8
Fuel cons. (claimed) 9.6L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 12.5L/100km
Fuel type Diesel
Fuel tank size 130L

What is the Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series like to drive?

Like many others in this wide brown land, I love the driving experience of the LandCruiser. Not because it’s good, refined or comfortable. It’s actually because it’s none of those things. It feels solid and reassuring, with plenty of visibility and confident communication through the hands and feet.

It’s a bit less engaging now that you don’t have to worry about shifting ratios (which is a regular occurrence in the V8 with its low gearing), but it’s easier and more competent at picking up and holding speed.

It’s certainly less charming, as the four-cylinder engine drones and vibrates instead of rumbling and roaring. But at the end of the day, it’s faster and easier, making it (rationally speaking) the better choice of the two.

Of course, a large part of your heart irrationally stays with the V8, even though it hates revving above 2000rpm and quickly runs out of puff on the highway. But put your emotional attachment aside for a minute, and the four-cylinder is a better performer (in stock form).

The only caveat I can throw in the V8’s favour is its propensity for modification and possible longevity. It doesn’t take much to wake it up for more power, and there are plenty of examples out there that have impressive odometer readouts.

Will the four-cylinder be able to last as long? We’ll only know in the fullness of time, but we can look upon the reputation of the 1GD-FTV as a power plant in the HiLux, LandCruiser Prado and Fortuner as a reference.

Otherwise, the driving experience is familiar from the last few decades of existence. Those who don’t have experience with things like live axles and recirculating ball steering will treat their first few minutes inside of a LandCruiser with disdain. The steering has more vagueness than a politician in a pickle, feels thickly wooden, and yields near-instant body roll and understeer.

The ride is firm and solid feeling. Bigger bumps quickly unsettle it, however, and it can feel particularly stiff when you carry too much speed over a speedbump or pothole. But you certainly get the sense that this thing isn’t going to fall apart.

But hey, this is a workhorse. A heavy-duty four-wheel-drive that has refused to yield to the modern demands of comfort and refinement.

And one major benefit of this LandCruiser is its ability to load up with much more weight than a regular dual-cab ute.

“Pffft!” I hear some say. “My ute has a one-tonne payload and 3500kg braked towing capacity.”

This is true, and the 1325kg of payload (which drops to 1081kg when you include the tray) doesn’t seem impressive in isolation.

However, the fact that the LandCruiser 70’s gross combination mass allows for both maximum payload and maximum towing capacity to be used at the same time is what sets it apart.

And in order to test this out, we loaded up the 79 Series LandCruiser with an 850kg bulker bag of ballast in the back. Once strapped down, we headed over to test this ute further with a 2.8-tonne Jayco Sterling caravan.

Legally speaking, we still had around 700kg of towing capacity left over, but only a skerrick of payload when you include the ball weight of the (empty) caravan on the vehicle.

Keep in mind, Toyota’s definition of GVM doesn’t include occupants, and we need to account for around 100kg of ball weight of the caravan within the LandCruiser’s capacity.

Once loaded up, the LandCruiser was leaning back on the haunches quite heavily with all of that weight on the back.

However, a quick look underneath showed there was still a couple of fingers’ worth of travel between those flattened-out leaf springs and the bump stops.

And once loaded up and driving, we found ourselves with even more vagueness to the steering because of so much weight over the back. No worries, drive to the conditions and take your time.

Once we were able to put the 2.8-litre engine to the job of dragging six-odd tonnes of combined mass along the highway and up hills, we found the car to perform quite well.

Partly from the 500Nm available – outstripping the V8 by a healthy 70Nm – but also from the increased reduction in differential gearing. Going from 3.9:1 to 4.3:1 makes sense for the smaller-capacity engine, and the fact that there is a broader spread of gearing available from the six-speed automatic gearbox.

And while the V8 can certainly feel muscular and stall-proof off idle and at a low-speed crawl off-road, it’s much less happy when trying to slog along at higher revs on the highway. The four-cylinder engine isn’t exactly fast, but it is demonstrably better than the V8.

Key details 2024 Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series Double-Cab 2.8
Engine 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power 150kW @ 3000–3400rpm
Torque 500Nm @ 1600–2800rpm
Drive type Part-time four-wheel drive
Transmission 6-speed torque converter automatic
GVM 3510kg
Weight 2185kg
2429kg (incl. tray)
GCM 7010kg
Spare tyre type Full-size
Payload 1325kg
1081kg (incl.tray)
Tow rating 3500kg braked
750kg unbraked
Turning circle 14.4m

How much weight can a Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series tow?

Like most utes out there, the LandCruiser 70 Series range has a 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity. If you want more than this, you’ll need to either look at some heavy-duty American metal or a light truck.

While the ‘No Need for a 79’ Facebook page is great for those who want to troll LandCruiser ownership, the numbers around the payload and gross combination mass show where a LandCruiser has a clear advantage over the likes of a Ranger or HiLux.

One plus one doesn’t equal two in terms of gross vehicle mass and gross combination mass in many modern four-wheel drives, which means you can only use your maximum towing capacity or maximum payload on a mutually exclusive basis. In some of the worst cases, you might even run into trouble if you have too much towball mass on a fully unladen ute.

On a LandCruiser 70 Series, it’s a much more simple calculation of gross vehicle mass plus braked towing capacity equals gross combination mass. So you can use both at once without issues, unlike most other utes. But don’t forget to account for the additional ball weight in the vehicle’s capacity.

It needs to be said, though: You really need to be using these kinds of capacities on a regular basis to justify the need for a LandCruiser 70 Series. If not, you run the risk of being labelled a poser.

Should I buy a Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series?

Perhaps there is one other buyer out there for the 79 Series. Someone who buys one new vehicle every 20 years, and expects it to run faultlessly for that entire time.

And that’s good, because they haven’t bought anything new for 20 years, and they are oblivious as to how comfortable and refined other vehicles are in comparison to the 70 Series.

Yes, it’s utterly compromised in so many respects. But it does things that the competitors can’t do, and has a unique mixture of payload, capability and durability that makes it the only choice of vehicle for many people and applications.

Throw in the huge reputation for reliability, heritage and iconic status of the vehicle, and you can see why so many (who don’t need one) want one.

This is the niche here that the LandCruiser is filling. Actually, niche is probably downplaying it. A need, a demand for a vehicle that is more utilitarian than the rest, regardless of the warts. All other car makers have departed this part of the world completely, with only Ineos and the Grenadier arriving recently that can possibly water down the 100 per cent monopoly.

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How do I buy a Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series? The next steps.

If you want a V8 LandCruiser new off the showroom floor, the bad news is that order books are still closed and a 2.8-litre variant is your only option. Unless, of course, you go second-hand.

But if you have doubts about four-cylinder power, at least take one for a test drive. Because you might be pleasantly surprised with the performance. My other piece of advice would be to ask yourself the question, ‘Do I really need one?’. Because you might not, and you can save yourself a lot of money and general discomfort by going for another four-wheel-drive ute.

The desire still there? The Toyota website has a handy stock-finding function to peruse, and you can also locate your nearest dealer quite easily as well. Another thing to do would be to see which LandCruisers are for sale on the classified pages of Drive.com.au.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

Ratings Breakdown

2024 Toyota Landcruiser GXL Cab Chassis Double Cab

6.7/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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