The workhorse LandCruiser 70 Series gets some modern comfort and extra safety features.

Story By Mathieu Raudonikis

It’s been the farmers’ friend for more than a quarter of a century. A vehicle that will haul a load of fencing down to the bottom paddock and get you back again without fuss or fanfare. A truck that is just as happy on the property with a water tank on the back as it is touring the country with a camper on its tray. The venerable Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series range has been around since 1984 and spawned numerous wheelbases and body styles but it’s the tray-back ute that’s proven the most useful and versatile tool on the land.
The 75 Series LandCruiser ute replaced the 45 Series in 1984 and continued the tradition of a tough, go-anywhere vehicle that could take some punishment. The 75 was replaced with the 78 in 1999 and coil springs under the front end added some comfort as did a bigger cabin but the recipe remained the same – rugged and reliable.
The biggest change to the 70 Series range came in 2007 when an all-new V8 turbo-diesel engine necessitated fresh front-sheet metal, which carries over to this day. Yet despite its modern V8 engine, the 70 Series remains an old-style workhorse with a separate ladder chassis, leaf springs under the back, a manual gearbox and part-time four-wheel drive as the only choice of transmission.
From September the LandCruiser 70 takes a further, if somewhat small, step into the 21st century with the introduction of basic safety equipment and an updated audio system.
While most passenger-based four-wheel-drive wagons have at least two and up to 12 or more airbags in their safety arsenal, the 70 idles into the domain of safer driving with just driver and passenger front airbags and these only came about after Toyota started to lose sales to commercial customers where occupational health and safety specified the fitting of airbags.
Fitting modern safety equipment to a 25-year-old design wasn’t easy and required a new dashboard for the whole range. This is a much more contemporary-looking deal with modern finishes replacing painted metal and an audio system and steering wheel retrieved from the LandCruiser 200 Series parts bin. The airbag-equipped steering wheel is now adjustable for reach as well as height. The new dash also accommodates a better glovebox, new switchgear, modern gauges and improved ventilation, although the slide controls for the vents remind you of the vehicle’s history. There’s even a cup/bottle holder alongside the long gear shifter!

This story excerpt is from Issue #67

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2009