LANDCRUISER 300 VERSUS THE REST

If you're looking for a large 4WD wagon in Australia, there aren't too many options to choose from. Aside from the LandCruiser 300, there's its LandCruiser 70-series sibling and also the smaller but very popular Prado. From Nissan, there's the larger, cheaper but slow-selling Y62 Patrol. Moving outside Japan, there's the reimagined Land Rover Defender and the left-field newcomer from Ineos, the Grenadier.

I'll quickly cover each of these options here, and at the bottom of the page you'll find a comprehensive specification table for each wagon.

Toyota LandCruiser 76

The 70-series first arrived way back in 1985. There have been a lot of changes since then, but the 76 still feels very old when compared to all the other vehicles here. It's by far the cheapest option in this market segment, making up for some of its deficiencies. The 70-series is primarily targeted at the commercial sector but is also popular in the 4WD touring arena, although more so the dual-cab ute version than the wagon.

The 76 runs a single-turbo version of the 4.5 litre 1VD-FTV V8 engine first introduced in 2007, updated with a DPF system in 2017. Standard power and torque isn't particularly good, but you can coax a fair bit more from it with a chip/tune and exhaust, and it delivers a great V8 note. There is no automatic transmission available and the 5-speed manual keeps the revs pretty high, hurting economy. Suspension is coils up front, with leaf springs at the back. Ride and handling is the worst of the pack, but load capacity is good, and readily upgraded.

The 76 was never really an option for me to replace my 200, because it would have been a backwards step in almost every way. It was less comfortable than my 200, had less space, fewer safety features, less power and uses more fuel.

If you want a 70 series with 5 seats, the dual cab ute is a far better option.

Toyota (LandCruiser) Prado 150

Although the Prado did begin as part of the LandCruiser 70 range some 30 years ago, today it's a unique vehicle and shares almost no commonality with the current 70 or 300 series models.

The most popular 4WD wagon in Australia, the Prado 150-series is coming up for replacement in around 2024. With a 2.8 litre 4-cylinder diesel, it's a bit underpowered for heavy duty towing, but a good choice if you only tow a camper or small van. Although smaller than most other vehicles listed here, the Prado is quite roomy until you're using the 3rd row of seats.

Personally for our needs I find it a bit narrow/small, and I'd like a bit more go than what's provided by the 4-cylinder engine. But it's generally a popular and reliable vehicle (DPF issues aside), and with a price some $30,000 less than a similarly-equipped 300 series, there's no wonder it sells well. If the next model gains the 300's V6 diesel as an optional powerplant, it could be a game changer in the market segment.

Nissan Patrol Y62

The big Patrol has long been a direct competitor for the Land Cruiser, but in the absence of a diesel engine option, the Y62 has not been a sales success in Australia. The 5.6L petrol V8 packs plenty of punch, but it uses 20-50% more fuel than a LandCruiser 300.

On the upside the Y62 is big and cheap. Some $25-30,000 less than an equivalent 300-series, while boasting more interior space. Even given the correspondingly lower resale value and the higher running costs, that makes it an option worthy of consideration.

I'd already considered the Y62 when I bought my 200, and decided against it. My reasoning remains.... The petrol engine does not appeal to me, nor does the independent rear suspension. The Y62's looks have improved since a 2020 facelift, but the interior missed out on an upgrade and is now well out of date.

Land Rover Defender L663

Released in 2020, the "new" Defender is enormously different from the vehicle it replaced, which dated back to 1983 and evolved from the original Land Rover series I.

On paper, the Defender 110 could seem like a good option to a 300-series. It's cheaper, has roughly the same amount of interior space, similar performance and better fuel economy.

Unfortunately, the Defender doesn't seem to have improved on Land Rover's poor reputation for reliability and durability, with the brand consistently finishing in last place in the JD Power dependability reports. There would have to be significant improvements in their performance for me to consider a Defender for remote touring.

Ineos Grenadier

Not only is the Grenadier the 'new kid on the block', but it's being manufactured by a chemical company with no prior experience making cars. Lamenting the demise of the original Land Rover Defender, the billionaire owner of Ineos conceived the Grenadier with a few mates at a pub. This meeting lead to the birth of a new carmaker, Ineos Automotive, and their sole model, the Grenadier.

It looks a lot like an old Land Rover, but it's actually a completely new vehicle with major components provided by some of the World's major suppliers, including BMW, ZF, Recaro, and Carraro.

The vehicle should start shipping in late 2022 and is available to pre-order. Prototypes have been undergoing testing for several years, with test days underway around the World. I went to one of these days and took a ride in the Grenadier. It wasn't a bad vehicle, but just didn't appeal to me personally for a few reasons. It's billed as a simple, low-tech utility vehicle and is missing a lot of typical modern safety and convenience technology. Despite this, it's priced close to a 300-series Cruiser.

What about EV/Hybrid/Hydrogen options?

There's little doubt that EVs will make up an increasing portion of road vehicles into the future. There's a good chance we'll buy one to replace our other car when it's eventually due for replacement.

If Toyota offered a hybrid (or better still, plug-in hybrid) option on the LC300, then I would be very interested. But at this time, they don't. There are no electric or hydrogen fuelled options currently available on any vehicle that we would seriously consider. Land Rover do offer a very pricey plug-in hybrid Defender overseas (The P400e), but it's not currently available in Australia. Their diesel is a 'mild hybrid', which only serves to reduce fuel consumption slightly.

Some of the emerging 4WD utes and SUVs coming out in the USA, such as the Rivian R1T or R1S and the Ford F150 Lightning offer some compelling features and performance. But even their headline range figures of over 500km per charge aren't yet viable for remote touring, particularly when towing. No doubt the technology will continue to advance though, and they may be a good option in the future.

Most manufacturers have all-but abandoned hydrogen powered vehicles now. But it's possible that it may become an option in the future to keep older vehicles running in an emission-free world.

There is a fascinating electric/PHEV vehicle under development in the UK. The Fering Pioneer is a modular 4WD with an electric driveline and relatively small battery, backed up by a small, efficient turbo-diesel which charges the battery when required. Although still in development, it has a claimed range of an incredible 7,000km on electric/diesel power. Combined with an ultra light weight, high payload and many unusual features make, this is a vehicle that might show the way to how electric drivelines could make their way into touring vehicles. Watch this space.

Below you'll find a feature and specification comparison between the LandCruiser 300, the LandCruiser 76, the Nissan Patrol Y62, The Land Rover Defender and the newcomer, the Ineos Grenadier. Although not a direct competitor, I've also included the Prado as there's some overlap between it and the larger wagons.

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