Sweet dreams are made of this. A 4.5 litre, twin turbo, intercooled, double overhead cam, 32-valve V8. Okay it’s a diesel, but that just adds to the equation. I have to say it again; 4.5 litre, twin turbo, intercooled, double overhead cam, 32-valve V8. For me, we could end this article right here, but we won’t of course. By the way, as you’d expect it’s a Common Rail diesel and meets the Euro 5 standard.
The latest big mother Landcruiser 200 from Toyota is just that – big. When I tested the Prado late last year, that felt large. The 200 is in another class, and is at the top of Toyota’s SUV tree.
There’s just two Landcruiser 200 models – the VX and the VX Limited, which I tested. The ‘base’ model, if you can call it that, retails at near on $122k, or add on $8k more for a leather and power seat package. The Limited runs at $144k, and adds quite a few more features.
Tank. That’s what my daughter called it whenever we were going out. But this is a tank that can really move. More on that later.
Your lasting impression from the outside is the size. Behemoth. But you’ve got to hand it to Toyota, they’ve masked the size of the thing well at some angles – it just looks like a slightly bigger Prado sometimes. Weirdly, at other angles it looks like they’ve embraced the size of the thing to make it look enormous. At five metres long, two metres wide and almost two metres high, this ain’t no small wagon.
It’s not a bad looking wagon, and thankfully Toyota haven’t given it the huge gaping grille look they seem to enjoy putting on the front of some of their cars. That look isn’t for me.
And then you open the door. As you would expect, there’s plenty of room in there. The space between the front seats is extremely generous and the chilled centre console bin is wide. The front legroom is massive, as is the second row. I thought the Prado was like a limo in the second row, but the 200 is up on that again. The 3rd row of seats also get good legroom, probably up on the Prado again.
Likewise the cargo area is much bigger than the Prado (or the Everest for that matter) and even with the 3rd row of seats down still gives a reasonable amount of storage. It’s also much, much deeper than the Prado or Everest.
The leather seats in the Limited model exude luxury, and as a bonus are extremely comfortable with just the right padding. Having all that electric adjustment for both front seats is great, especially the electric lumbar support for the driver.
The power rear door is a nice touch and I must admit I may be getting older as I really appreciate now when a wagon has this feature. You can open and shut the rear door from the keyfob as well of course, or from the door, or from the driver’s seat. The Landcruiser retains the split rear door that it’s always had, with the top part powered up and down, while the bottom half a manual open/shut – it’s well weighted though so not a big deal.
On the outside there’s a simple ‘V8’ badge on the rear door, and some huge bonnet bulges, which I assume was a token addition to mean you have a V8 under the hood. Nothing wrong with that – it’s quite a nice feeling to be driving around with that awesome power unit and no one really knowing what you have propelling you down the road, unless you happen to put your foot down and they hear it. On opening the bonnet you can see it doesn’t need those humps but hey, they look pretty darn cool.
Both 200s come with the same engine, that gutsy V8 diesel which pumps out 200kw at 3600rpm and a decent 650Nm of torque at just 1600rpm. As you can imagine, there is no CVT here. A six-speed auto is in place and it works just fine.
Plenty of driver and safety aids in both models, including Trailer Sway Control, Traction Control, vehicle Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, Downhill Assist, Crawl Control (a sort of off-road cruise control) and Multi Terrain Select which allows you to pick your off-road driving conditions.
The VX Limited also adds Toyota’s KDSS – Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which aids in handling on the twisty stuff. 18” alloys are standard, along with a full-size spare.
You’d better sit down while we go through just some of the interior features. Both models include radar cruise control, power-adjust tilt and reach steering wheel, 3 rows of seats, push button start with smart keys, a 220v power outlet in the cargo area, auto-dipping rear view mirror, Toyota’s MID – Multi Information Display for the centre of the instrument panel, four-zone climate control AC, park assist sensors, electric rear top door, Multi System Terrain Monitor, a 9” display for the centre of the dash, SUNA traffic avoidance system, Satnav, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a 3500kg braked tow rating.
Auto-levelling headlights are included as well, along with auto wipers and headlights.
The 200 VX can seat eight people, while the VX Limited model can seat seven.
The Limited model adds a power tilt/slide sunroof, auto high-beam headlights, power driver and passenger’s seats with power lumbar adjustment for the driver and 3 memory settings, heating and ventilated front seats, heated middle row and a full leather interior. For the kids, the Limited has a rear DVD entertainment system with two 11.6” screens and two sets of wireless headphones. You also get a coolbox for the centre console and a tyre pressure warning system.
Interestingly both models now come with a wireless charging station in the centre console for your phone. The device has to adhere to the Qi wireless charging standard, but if it does – no cords! I haven’t seen this in another car yet, and my iPhone doesn’t do wireless charging, but it’s a great idea.
Walking around the 200, built quality is at normal Toyota levels – better than average. Ditto the interior, nothing is out of place or looks badly made.
What’s it like to live with?
After jumping out of a test Honda HRV and into the 200, it certainly seemed like it was just too big. But once you start driving it around, you get used to the size very quickly, even when you are driving around Wellington’s narrow city streets. The driver aids help here – especially in a tight car park when the buzzers let you know you are too close to a wall or other object. The display on the dash lets you know too just what part of the car is about to crash into something. I’m happy to say I delivered the 200 back without a blemish, despite taking it to some really tricky car parks in my 2 weeks with the car.
Looking out over the bonnet reminds me of a Dodge Ram I owned – a bonnet that just seemed to stretch into the distance.
On first driving the car, there are a few lasting impressions. One is the ride. Sublime. Speed bumps? What speed bumps? They are dealt to with little drama and with such a long wheelbase, you barely feel them. No doubt that weight of over 2.5 tons helps here too! Rear suspension is four-link coil spring with double wishbones at the front.
Another impression has to be that engine. Silky smooth, even for a diesel. When I tested the Prado v6 petrol late last year, the tagline I gave that car was, “Smooth Operator”. Incredibly, this diesel leaves that petrol V6 for dead in the smoothness stakes.
That engine. A trip to Upper Hutt on the motorway showed what it can do as far as smoothness and tractability goes – after all, peak torque is at 1600 rpm. It also showed that it can perform. Very well. Grin inducing well. I used the car for a week, and then for some reason I spied the ECT Power button, which I hadn’t spotted before. It was like someone had bolted a couple more turbos on! The performance went from excellent to frightening. My head and back were pushed back into the seat on even quarter throttle acceleration.
For the next week, I left it in Power mode all the time, just to experience the performance. Honestly, you have to drive this massive, heavy car to appreciate just how quickly it car accelerate. Steep hills and loaded up? Meh, what hill? At 8.2 seconds to get to 100km/h, you won’t be holding up much traffic.
I can see that with a braked towing capacity of 3500kg, that might tax the engine, but I would sure love to hook up a heavy load to the 200 and see how it goes.
A perfect match to the engine is the 6-speed auto. It simply does not need any more gears than this.
I decided to take the 200 on my Favourite Handling Road, just to try out the KDSS. When I drove the Prado with KDSS, it was a revelation on just how well that 2.2 ton SUV cornered. Unfortunately, KDSS hasn’t worked as well with the 200. Tyre scrub and squeal kicks in fairly quickly. Sure you can still chuck it around a bit, but that high body and extra 300KG over the Prado have taken their toll on the handling. It’s likely the tyres don’t help here either – chunky tread and a high profile. But then, this isn’t a wagon you buy to pretend you are in a sports car.
Steering on those twisty roads is ok – a bit of feel there, but not a heck of a lot. Acceptable for the size of the car and tyres. For the most time it’s perfectly weighted at least, and not too light as I thought it might be.
After you drive it, then you can appreciate the features Toyota have thrown in. Reversing camera naturally, but this one with the top-down view on the side of the reversing camera view, so you can see all around the car as well. Handy stuff and a talking point if you take someone for a ride. It’s quite an eerie view.
Another trip on the motorway had me using the radar cruise control. I have a real love/hate relationship with Toyota cruise controls. I hate the stalk to turn it off and on/adjust your speed – it’s at a weird angle and just seems in an unsafe position. But I love that when you adjust your speed, it shows the new speed that the cruise control is set to on the dash – great! But then (and admittedly this is not specific to Toyota) while the car drops back automatically when it gets too close, it seems to wait forever before it accelerates again and then rushes back up to a car – and slams the brakes on. Okay, slams the brakes on is an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Drop right back, rush up, brakes on. Not fun, safe or economical. Even other manufacturer’s cruise controls that aren’t controlled by radar do the same thing. Instead of gently accelerating up a hill, the computer floors the accelerator instead. It feels scary sometimes, or is it just me? Bonus points for the 200 that you can adjust the distance that you want to have between you and the car in front though.
Speaking of brakes – no problems here. With 4-pot front brakes, panic stops are safe and short, even with the weight of the car. The feel is surprisingly good for such a heavy wagon.
Parking sensors in the 200 was essential, and they are fitted. But I also thought at $144K, it would include self-parking capability. At $50K or so less, even the Everest Titanium has this feature. One other slight surprise was the sunroof – the blind is a manual one. While this is a First World Problem, the $40K Honda HRV Sport I had just returned had an electric blind. Again not a huge issue, but for this sort of cash I was pretty much expecting the blind to be a powered one.
There are many driver aids to play with while you are driving. Lane Departure Alert, auto high-beams, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and other features to help you drive this beast about.
Long trips should be a breeze with the V8 Cruiser. The seats are so comfortable, and with heating and cooling in the front as well as power adjustment, then heated middle row seats all in leather, 4-zone AC, 11.6” screens for the kids to watch movies in the back seat with their wireless headphones – long distances should go by very quickly. With that V8 it’s likely they will anyway.
Time to get off-road
It was time for some semi off-roading. A trip to Red Rocks beckoned, and this was just the wagon to do it. Initially I thought with the chunky wide tyres fitted that loose rock would not be an issue. However, I didn’t account for the weight and progress came to a stop. A flick of the rotary switch and 4WD saw us off again. I also selected ‘loose rock’ using the Multi Terrain Select dial, which sets everything up for the terrain you are driving on. Your options here are Loose Rock, Moguls (mounds), Mud and Sand, Rock and Dirt, Rock.
Ground clearance is a minimum 230mm, which is pretty good. We didn’t manage to scrape any rocks even though we had to drive over some pretty large ones.
Mostly we were at crawling speed, and the 200 cruised along effortlessly. But when it came to that loose beach rock, I felt the car start to sink more than once. At one time we needed to select low range to get out of a hole. No real dramas though, and I didn’t even need to use the diff lock.
The 200’s setup for 4WD is actually pretty good. Torsen limited-slip centre diff with diff lock, high/low range and Crawl Control with Turn Assist Function. Also you have access to the Multi Terrain Monitor, which uses front and side cameras to give a surrounding view in off road conditions, much the same as the Prado and just as handy.
On our trip to Red Rocks, I made the most of the chiller bin in the centre console. Call me a wuss, but I actually enjoyed having nicely cooled water while off roading (well, mild off-roading!).
Since the day was a hot one, I also enjoyed using the ventilated front seats. Puffs of cool air coming up under your butt and onto your back. I sound like a total softie but hey who wants a sweaty back while you are driving about?
I can almost hear you asking. Here we are nearing the end – what does it sound like? Like a V8, or so subdued it could be a four or a six? When inside and using the throttle more than you should, there is no doubt this is not a 4-pot diesel. It’s never loud, but you can pick it as a V8. Actually you get that V8 sound more in the cab than the outside. It was the first thing I missed when jumping into another car after dropping the Toyota off.
During my two weeks, I averaged 17.5L/100km. The stated combined rating is 9.5. I can now see the danger of that Power button – it costs petrol. It’s also so worth it. With a 138-litre tank, be prepared to open your wallet wide at the pumps. At $144K, are you going to care? Likely not.
What do we think of it?
After dropping the 200 off, I suddenly missed the sound of that gutsy V8. Is that a good enough reason to buy the Landcruiser 200 VX Limited? Up to you, but once you’ve experienced that sound and that performance, it’s hard to leave behind.
In saying that, in the cars in the comparison table below only one is slower, and only because it’s heavier but uses the same motor. Another $12k or so for a Range Rover HSE? That’s a hard call.
The 200 VX Limited is worthy of a 4-star Chevron rating. In the market for a large diesel V8 SUV? Add the Landcruiser 200 V8 to your test driving list – you may be pleasantly surprised.
The Good and the Bad
What it’s up against
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power|
|Price Highest to Lowest|
|Lexus LS450D||4.5-litre V8 diesel||200||8.6||9.5||$159,900|
|Range Rover SDV8 HSE||4.4-litre V8 diesel||250||6.9||8.7||$155,000|
|Audi TDI S Line Wagon||4.1-litre V8 diesel||250||6.4||9.2||$143,990|
|Toyota Landcruiser 200 VX Limited||4.5-litre V8 diesel||200||8.2||9.5||$143,990|
|Volkswagon Touareg TDI R-Line Wagon||4.1-litre V8 diesel||250||5.8||9.1||$135,900|
|Vehicle Type||5-door full-size SUV|
|Engine||4.5-litre, twin turbo, intercooled, 32-valve, DOHC, common-rail V8 diesel|
|0 – 100 kph||8.2 seconds|
|Kerb Weight||2510 Kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4990x1990x1945|
|Fuel Tank||138 Litres|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|