The tough-as-teak LandCruiser ute is now more versatile with a four-door cabin and five seats.

Story By Matt Raudonikis

Its design dates back nearly three decades yet Toyota’s venerable LandCruiser 70 Series workhorse continues to develop and improve. It’s the heavy-duty go-anywhere vehicle that is found on properties and mine sites, and towing caravans all around Australia, and in 2012 it was updated with a host of new features and a new body style. The double-cab 79 Series ute is an all-new model for the 70 and was developed specifically for Australia and the demands of the mining and rural sector.
The significance of the double-cab 79 is that it brings to the market a true heavy-duty four-wheel-drive ute with seating for five people where the Land Rover Defender was previously the only alternative.
The LandCruiser double-cab was created by Toyota by using the rear doors from the 76 Series station wagon and fitting them to an extended 79 Series ute cabin. The new body sits on the same wheelbase as the single-cab ute and this puts the cargo tray behind the rear axle line in order to accommodate the four-door cabin.
The back seat is the same as that used in the 76 wagon as well and it is wide, flat and gives plenty of space for three adults. Unfortunately for anyone riding in the centre position there is only a lap seatbelt and no headrest. There are no provisions in the back seat for the fitting of child seats, which seems an oversight in a vehicle that might otherwise appeal to family buyers.
Safety has been improved with the 2012 upgrade implementing anti-lock brakes across the range. This feature joins just two front airbags while electronic-stability control is still not available. The LandCruiser 70 was last rated on the ANCAP safety test before the latest updates, which include ABS brakes, and it only achieved a three-star rating.
Other inclusions with the update are improved front seats, a better audio system with Bluetooth and voice recognition, standard inclusion of the air-intake snorkel, and the fitting of front and rear diff locks as standard on GXL models.
The new front seats are longer and have more padding in the bases. There’s also a small console around the gearshift that has a cup-holder and 12-volt power outlet.

This story excerpt is from Issue #86

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2013