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Is The New Landcruiser Too Expensive?


Metallic red 2024 Toyota Landcruiser VDJL79 series with black wheel crossing a rutted track. The wheels are articulated at opposing angles to show how capable the truck is off road. Behind the track is a grassy field.

Look, we've had opinions on Landcruiser's for almost as long as we've been alive. Obviously there were a couple of years where we weren't completely aware of what a Landcruiser was, but our first memories of these hulking great off-road barges came about quite early.


We would hazard a guess that the same goes for almost everyone in Australia (if not the world) and it's for good reason too. From the Crocodile Hunter to the UN, the Landcruiser has always been (sort of) everywhere.


See, the Toyota Landcruiser is a ubiquitous vehicle. They were first manufactured in 1951 and made their way to Australia in the late 1950's.


Since the 1950's, Australia has had countless variants. From the FJ25 to the FJ45, FJ60, HJ60, FZJ80, HDJ80, HDJ79, HJ75, VDJ79, VDJ76, HZJ105, UZJ100, HDJ100, VDJ200, GDJ79 and even FJA300. It's absolutely ridiculous how many different Landcruisers we've had in the Australian market.

A Carsales listing for a white Toyota Landcruiser VDJL79 series utility with a snorkel but no tray. The price in the top right corner is $102,990.

Another thing that seems kind of ridiculous lately is the cost. A dual cab VDJL79 series ute without tray is somewhere in the ballpark of $100,000-$130,000 and the FJA300 series SUV living in the neighbourhood of $150,000.


Now, what do all these letters and numbers mean? Well, when you think of a Landcruiser ute, you're probably picturing a 79 series, and this is where we're going to focus our efforts today. Partially because it makes the most sense and partially because of the insanity of a 6 figure work vehicle.


So, at $110,000-$130,000 for a work truck, what do you get? What could possibly be included to make a work vehicle worth that much money?

Carsales listing picture of the heater controls on a Toyota Landcruiser VDJL79 series. It is a very basic control panel with a 4 position rotary switch for the fan and 3 levers to control the temperature, vent position and recirculation. The screen above is for the radio and below are blanked of switches and 2 usb-c charge points. The price of the vehicle in the top right corner is $129,990.

A tray or canopy? No

Automatic transmission? No

Automatic engaging, push button 4X4? No

Nice alloy wheels and big beefy tyres? No

Leather seats with heating and massage built in? No

Automatic climate control with multi-zone temperature control? No. You still get the same heater control as you did in 1984.

Interior of a Toyota Landcruiser VDJL79 Workmate trim. There are vinyl covered seats, vinyl floors, a hard rubber shift knob and steering wheel, a single cup holder and manual window cranks. The only screen in the interior is the radio.

Heck, in the base model, you still get vinyl seats, vinyl floors, vinyl doors, a single cup holder and WIND-UP WINDOWS.


In fact, we went searching for photos of the interior of the new Landcruiser and besides, the ones available on Carsales, they just don't exist. Likely because nothing has measurably changed in over 25 years.


If the interior, exterior and underside of the vehicle has barely changed, are there any features in the 79 series that do make it desirable?


Well, yes. It's got a massive 4.5L V8 turbo diesel that makes about 430Nm from the factory, a 3.5-tonne towing capacity, solid front and rear axles and differential locks (if you buy the right model).


But, is there anything else on the market that also manages to fulfil these needs?


What if I told you that there was a ute on the market that had 470nm, 3.5-tonne towing, push button 4WD, power windows, actual dual-zone climate control, an automatic transmission, leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, ADAS safety systems and even came with a fully functioning tray?

Orange 2024 Mitsubishi Triton parked on asphalt parking lot with green trees behind.

What if that vehicle was the new Mitsubishi Triton its starting price was $54,000?


What if the Mitsubishi came with almost everything you would want in a new ute and the Landcruiser needed $20,000 in mods just to bring it up to spec?


We don't even like the Triton that much; It's just astounding the difference in cost for objectively similar features.


Now comes the difficult bit because we've got to find a way to justify that cost difference. To try and find a reason that the Landcruiser is worth the extra dosh.


Normally, cars gain in value because of a couple of factors, brand value, luxury, capability, size and reliability. Is it because the Toyota is more reliable than the Mitsubishi?


Well not really. We've already written a huge blog post on whether Toyota is reliable at all. The VDJ79 and the VDJL79 are largely the same underneath and, while the chances are that you'll get a bit more mileage out of them than the Mitsubishi, the maintenance costs are also much higher.

On top of that, when things go wrong with the Landcruiser (and they will), be prepared to pay through the nose for the pleasure of owning a big manly V8. Injectors and turbos are more common to fail than you'd expect (and there are twice as many of them) and the starter motor is located in the middle of the engine.


So if it's not that much more reliable, is it any better on or off-road?


Well, on-road performance and Landcruiser utes are a natural oxymoron. However, off-road is where the Landcruiser is meant to shine and does - kind of.


While the Landcruiser will get you in and out of a lot of situations, it's only slightly more capable than a Suzuki Jimny.

And if you wanted a vehicle that was actually super capable off-road, you'd consider the Ranger Raptor, Iveco Daily 4X4 or an Isuzu NPS. All three are in the same tax bracket but have significantly better capability (depending on the use case).


If the Landcruiser is only slightly more reliable or capable, then is there another reason why so many people would rather have it over the Mitsubishi, or the Jimny, or the Ranger, or the Dmax, or the Iveco, or the Isuzu NPS?


It's a couple of things. While the Landcruiser isn't as drastic of a performance or reliability increase in comparison to other utes as it used to be, it is still slightly better than the other options on the market.


It's also not a proper off-road truck like the Iveco and the Isuzu NPS, meaning it's OK to live with.


They're also much more modifiable than almost any other ute on the market today. While you might be able to put a lift kit and a snorkel on a DMax, you can do a GVM upgrade, portal axles, chassis extension and handbrake upgrade and still barely touch the surface in a Landcruiser.

On top of this, there is something to be said for a vehicle that is still mostly simple equipment underneath. Big solid axles, leaf springs and wind-up windows give you a slightly better chance of fixing it in the middle of nowhere.


The other thing that massively affects the cost of the Landcruiser are the badges on the front and the back. Toyota has such a strong brand name that they could sell a potato and convince you it was a reliable car. And the Landcruiser nameplate falls into a very similar category.


When you compare it to anything else and look at the facts, the modern Landcruiser is basically a massive rip-off. It's a bloated, underpowered, overweight, outdated, primitive, tractor of a ute and no matter how hard we look, we can't find a reason for it to be a 6 figure car except to separate suckers from their hard-earned cash.

With all that said, if we were cashed up bogans with jet skis and a camping problem, we'd probably buy one too. Even though we hate almost everything about them, they still are (slightly) better at what they're meant to do than a lot of the other options.


They also look cool and sound pretty great. And since they took the diesel variant of the Patrol off the market, there's nothing else that really challenges it in its own bracket.


 

If you have any questions about this blog post, would like a second opinion from a mechanic or would like to find an honest mechanic in Brisbane, check out Kashy here.


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