TOYOTA 76 SERIES REVIEW
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YES, YES… YES TOYOTA!
1) RAIN GUTTERS
They make things so easy in the world of four-wheel drives. No need to drill holes in your roof to mount a track-mount system, just simple cross bars or roof cages that bolt on, and off.
2) THAT ENGINE
Droooool… it is that simple, but did you ever for a moment think a Toyota V8 turbo diesel would suck? I see people burning out clutches, simply forgetting to change from 4th gear while taking a corner or overtaking up a hill in 5th gear.
3) COLOUR OPTIONS AVAILABLE
Yep, call me a hipster (please don’t) but I reckon some of the options actually look great. Especially incorporating silver trim rather than a plain-Jane flat colour, or the traditional straight-up white on white.
4) FACTORY DIFF LOCK OPTION
Truth be told, the standard suspension travel offered is quite poor, as you would expect from a radius arm front end and leaf sprung rear. Becoming crossed up is easier said than done, so having lockers really is a must.
5) IDLE-UP BUTTON
Old school cool! It doesn’t work like an old fashioned hand-throttle, but still comes in handy on cold mornings or when you need extra RPM while winching.
6) THEM OLD SCHOOL FEELS
It really feels like something your grandfather handcrafted. It doesn’t make beeping noises at you when your shirt is untucked, nor does it park itself, or have cameras on all corners to show you where you are going. It is a real driver’s car, it makes plenty of noise and it is fun to drive.
7) INDUCTION NOISE
PHOOOARRROOOOAAARRRR! Yep, driving with the driver’s side window open just a little reveals a lovely note from the factory snorkel.
8) FRONT BUMPER
It is no bull bar, but the factory bar makes for a great impromptu bar or picnic area and actually looks rather good.
9) MEAT AND VEG ON WHEELS
It feels simple, but not in a basic way if that makes sense? You get only what you need, but the execution is sensational. More importantly, it still feels like a LandCruiser, which in this day and age of vehicles wrapped in cotton wool, is refreshing.
10) UPGRADE POTENTIAL
The sky is the limit here – there isn’t much the aftermarket hasn’t already addressed with the 76 Series. You can literally turn it into anything you want it to be, from a hard-core tourer to a grocery getter.
OH NO… YOU DIDN’T!
1) THE STEREO
Sounds like four bees buzzing around in a jar spasmodically, and is exactly as loud. In a vehicle that costs so much, not having a thumping (or at least bearable) stereo is a sin! I chose to listen to the V8 burble instead, a far better option that I don’t regret.
2) MALNOURISHED REAR END
Come on Toyota, feed that rear axle of yours a few inches of nutritious steel and match the track width of the front end. Going over speed bumps was like crashing a plane into a mountain thanks to the soft and wide front end, and thin rigid rear end. At first you think, ‘ah that wasn’t so bad’, then… ‘owww my spine is poking my spleen!’
3) HORSE-AND-CART REAR SUSPENSION
Inherently, there is nothing wrong with leaf springs. But they just don’t work with a vehicle like this. It rides way too firmly without a load, yet the rear end doesn’t particularly like carting weight either, oddly enough. This vehicle should really have coil springs all ’round, just like it did originally when released overseas and grey imported here as a Prado.
4) GEARBOX CRUNCH
It crunches into gear, making noises similar to your daily bowl of cereal. I mean, it’s not that bad and you get used to the quirks… but it certainly isn’t $70k good. Put it this way, if you thought a 1988 GQ Nissan Patrol shifts well, you will still dislike this gearbox at first. Time for a 6-speed please Toyota.
5) RUNS OUT OF PUFF
The overall gearing is too low! This is the perfect excuse to fit bigger tyres though, which we imagine most owners will. And the engine will move larger rubber with ease too, but a 6th gear would really be the best answer for versatility (or an auto option – what year is this?).
6) NO AUTO COG-SWAPPER
Man, that engine would be sweet behind a decent automatic transmission. Luckily the aftermarket industry is onto this, and there are (albeit expensive) ways around this. For the price of converting to an auto though, you are well and truly into 200 Series LandCruiser price range.
7) BOTCHED PLASTIC SURGERY
This is a press vehicle, which are generally driven with as much care as a supermarket shopping trolley by inexperienced or overly enthusiastic members of the motoring industry. Scratches are already appearing around the ignition barrel, rear doors and dash, all of which are made from what seems like quite light duty plastic. Would it be kid proof?
8) HMM, THINK I’LL EAT IN
The cup-holder and centre console are quite dumb! Why the single cup holder is located on the floor, and on the passengers side, I’ll never understand.
A human did not design this, surely?
Are you sitting down? I feel realistically, this vehicle should cost sub $50,000 considering the stripped back nature. But as in the spec tested with optional front-and-rear diff locks, you are looking at close to $70,000. For a vehicle with design cues dating back to 1984!
10) I DON’T OWN ONE
Even with the quirks, this car makes me feel really, really good! I enjoyed seeing it parked in my driveway. I enjoyed seeing it in the car park of the local shops, and I simply enjoyed being in the driver’s seat listening to the sweet growl of that lovely V8! This is the four-wheel drive people were trying to build in the ’90s, by dumping in a big V8, and I imagine these are exactly the people who will buy this vehicle! Someone who wants a tough and powerful 4X4, but has the benefit of hindsight to get Toyota to do the hard work in the first place.
Words by Evan Spence