Car review (launch report): Toyota Land Cruiser 200

The ultimate road trip vehicle

Years ago, when I was still an ambitious student at Stellenbosch hoping to one day get in to the world of motoring journalism, I got to travel up the Garden Route in my friend’s dad’s Land Cruiser. That was it. I was done. I knew from then on that I would always want this to be my road trip car! And my feelings have not changed.

We headed to Clarens and the Golden Gate National Park to experience the new Land Cruiser 200. What a landscape! I found myself lost in thought as we traversed through the most incredible scenery, Don’t tell Toyota, but at times I forgot where I was or why I was in fact on this launch. But the minute we came to an obstacle I was brought back to earth and witnessed exactly what this Land Cruiser can do off-road.

But it’s not the off-road driving that excites me, which I know sounds strange given the car and the environment, but it’s rather the on-road travelling that takes me back to those student days and feeling completely invincible is this big, brash, ultimate road trip car.

It is so comfortable nodding off is easy to do…and if you have read any of my other reviews you will know just how important this is for me. But it is also massive. The boot could fit another car in it’s so spacious, which again, is perfect for road tripping, especially if you road trip with me and my luggage.

But now, enough about me, let me get in to the nitty gritty of this big-boned girl. The new Land Cruiser 200 has had a bit of a nip and tuck. The front sees a revised bonnet, radiator grille, bumper, headlights and foglamps. Chrome plating has been added and the front combination lamps sit deeper for less damage. The Land Cruiser 200 sees a new wheel design and at the rear the bumper and combination lamps have been revised.

Step inside and you are met with a modern and fresh cabin with metallic frames and soft padding. It’s strange actually, while you bump up and down along the off-road routes you look around and think, “Hmmm this is rather luxurious for such bad behaviour!” It’s as if the interior is telling you it doesn’t belong off the beaten track but everything else is telling you it’s in its natural habitat. I do however have mechanical sympathy and know that I wouldn’t put my million rand car through such pain, but the Land Cruiser really just lapped it up.

The new Toyota Land Cruiser 200’s models line up includes the 4,5-litre V8 VX diesel engine and the 4,5-litre V8 GX diesel mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The GX has been added to offer something to those customers who aren’t after luxury, but more off-roading capability. It doesn’t house the same kind of spec as the VX does. So it comes in a bit cheaper at R850 000.

The VX offers features such as Auto High Beam, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping system, an enhanced pre-crash system and my personal best, a wireless charger. As long as your phone is QI enabled (and if it is not you can buy a cover for your phone that is) you can lie it on the wireless power pad in the centre console and voila! your phone charges. The VX will set you back R1 141 700 and Toyota predicts it be the volume seller.

The thing is, if I had the money, I would love to own a Land Cruiser 200, but, I would need more money, as I would need another car for my every day driving. As much as this car is great on the open road and really shows off as it cruises along the highway or navigates up a mountain, it is just too big for the city, especially if you live in Cape Town. You would need a PHD in parking just to get it in to a spot at any mall or parking lot. Even with all the cameras that enable you to see everything, including underneath the car. It is just not a car that I would opt for when needing to pop to the shop or when you have a meeting in one of Cape Town’s suburbs with their teeny tiny narrow roads.

But oh! what I would give to go back to being a student; care free and oblivious to what it means to be an adult. Planning road trips with your friends and hoping her dad says you can take his Land Cruiser on the open road. Not having to worry about shopping lists, kids, deadlines, work, commitments…this is where the new Toyota Land Cruiser took me…back to the good old days!