The Toyota LandCruiser 76 Wagon is a no-frills bush tourer with excellent off-road capability, a healthy payload and seating for five. It might not be the most luxurious wagon on the market but for remote-area bush expeditions it’s hard to beat.
What is the 76 Wagon?
The LandCruiser 76 Wagon is the mid-wheelbase four-door wagon variant of Toyota’s venerable commercial 70 Series 4x4 line-up. It has live axles front and rear, separate body-on-chassis construction and is powered by a 4.5-litre TDV8 engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission and part-time 4x4 system with high and low range. It can trace its lineage back to the original 70 Series LandCruiser that first saw the light of day in 1984.
Of course, there have been several upgrades over the decades, including the launch and retirement of short- and mid-wheelbase two-door variants, several petrol and diesel engine offerings and, in 1999, the introduction of coil spring front suspension (the rear still has leaf springs).
One of the biggest 70 Series upgrades included the introduction of the current 1VD-FTE 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine in 2007. This meant revisions to the chassis, a wider front track, further suspension upgrades and other changes aimed at improving refinement and minimising NVH levels. This was also when the LC76 Wagon was introduced to the Australian market.
In 2009 Toyota finally equipped the 70 Series line-up with SRS airbags and ABS, and it revised the interior at the same time.
The most recent update to the LC76 Wagon occurred in 2016, with safety upgrades resulting in the inclusion of vehicle stability control (VSC), active traction control (A-TRC), hill-start assist control (HAC), brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. The Cruiser also scored front seat belt pre-tensioners and a passenger seat belt reminder, and the bonnet was redesigned to meet pedestrian impact requirements.
On the mechanical front, Toyota upgraded the engine in 2016 to meet the Euro 5 emission standard, and it revised second and fifth gear ratios, resulting in a more versatile second gear (especially in low range) and a 15 per cent taller top gear for more relaxed highway touring in high range.
Despite the upgrades, the ol’ LC76 is a pretty basic bit of kit… but it’s also a very effective one.
What’s the interior like?
In short, the interior is basic.
The 76 Wagon’s dash includes all the essentials such as comprehensive instrumentation, a double DIN sound system with Bluetooth connectivity, a clock, a lockable glovebox and effective ventilation. There’s also a small centre console and a cupholder. It should be noted that air conditioning is a $2761 option across the 70 Series range, so that should be factored into the purchase price.
The Workmate has textured vinyl seats with a reasonable range of fore/aft/rake adjustment and vinyl floor covering. Oh, and you’ll have to teach your kids what window winders are if they want to let in some fresh air. The GXL has cloth-covered seats, carpet and power windows, along with remote central locking.
Thanks to a near vertical windscreen, thin A-pillars and deep glass, all-round visibility is excellent from the Cruiser’s front seats.
The rear bench seat offers reasonable comfort for two passengers but it’s not fore/aft adjustable. Nevertheless, there’s decent legroom in the back and enough width for a couple of adults. If you squeeze three people across the rear bench they’d want to be good mates, or it’d want to be a short trip. The seating position is upright but comfortable enough in the outer positions, and the deep glass provides a good view out of the vehicle. There are three child-seat anchor points in the rear header section, which could be difficult to access with a full load in the back.
The cargo area is accessed via barn doors and provides a sizeable space with a flat floor and four luggage tie-down points. The windows in the cargo area are hinged on their leading edge so they can be popped open for additional ventilation if required, such as when carrying pets. There’s good cargo height, which could be fully utilised with the addition of a cargo barrier and/or a drawer system.
What’s it like on the road?
There’s only so much ride comfort that can be achieved when you combine front and rear live axles with a relatively short wheelbase and a narrow track. On rough secondary roads the LC76 Wagon tends to pitch fore and aft, and there’s a fair amount of body roll when the big Cruiser is thrown into corners, which can be partially attributed to the fact the front track is wider than the rear. And the power-assisted recirculating ball and nut steering is well weighted but feels a little vague compared to modern rack and pinion set-ups.
While the TDV8 engine produces only modest peak power and torque outputs considering its generous capacity, it does so from very low revs. With a handy 430Nm of torque available from 1200-3200rpm, second-gear starts are often the order of the day, and once on the open road you can just leave it in top and let it lug its way up hills.
Of course, when fully laden or when towing, there’s certainly a need to shift gears more regularly. While clutch operation is light and progressive, this is a truck gearbox with a long, notchy throw, and gear shifts can’t be rushed.
The revised gear ratios have improved long-distance touring no end – there’s now a shade under 2000rpm indicated on the tacho when cruising along at 100km/h in top gear.
Thanks to the separate chassis architecture, the cabin is well isolated from road shock, but wind and engine noise can be excessive at highway speeds. There’s a noticeable induction roar from the driver’s A-pillar-mounted snorkel, and wind noise around the external mirrors.
Another addition in the 2016 update is the inclusion of auto freewheeling hubs, so you no longer have to jump out of the vehicle prior to selecting 4WD. These hubs can also be manually locked using the vehicle’s wheel brace if you intend on doing long off-road stints.
The LC76 Wagon has a 130-litre fuel capacity so you can expect a touring range in excess of 1000km between refills.
What’s it like off the road?
With plenty of ground clearance and wheel travel, good approach, departure and ramp-over angles, and a 700mm wading depth, the LC76 Wagon has always been a strong off-road performer, and now that it’s equipped with traction control and hill-start assist it’s better than ever.
The TDV8 makes loads of low-rpm torque and combined with the excellent low-range gearing (44.1:1 in low first) it means the 76 can crawl over off-road obstacles and tackle steep country tracks with ease.
Front and rear diff locks are standard on the GXL spec providing even more off-road capability, especially in slippery, steep and undulating terrain.
While the 12.6m turning circle can make manoeuvrability in tight spots difficult, the upright driving position and deep windows make it easy to sense the vehicle’s extremities and to spot obstacles.
The Workmate is fitted with single-piece 16-inch steel wheels shod with 225/95R16 tyres while the GXL has 16-inch alloys with 265/70R16s. Both tyre sizes are well suited to off-road driving and offer a lot of options for those who want to upgrade to more aggressive all-terrain or mud-terrain rubber.
What safety features does it get?
Unlike the LandCruiser 79 Single Cab, the LC76 Wagon does not achieve a five-star ANCAP rating. It does, however, now come with active safety features including ABS brakes, vehicle stability control (VSC), active traction control (A-TRC), hill-start assist control (HAC), brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.
The VSC automatically disengages in low-range for better off-road performance, and it can be manually disengaged in high-range for sand driving.
Other safety equipment includes driver and passenger airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and a passenger seatbelt reminder.
The Workmate used to have split-rim steel wheels; these have been superseded by single-piece steel wheels for safer tyre repairs/changes.
So, what do we think of the 76 Wagon?
The LandCruiser 76 Wagon is one of the last old-school 4x4s on the market. It’s a no-nonsense, long-distance tourer with excellent off-road capability. If you want to get into the most remote parts of Australia, and then get back home again, the LC76 will do the job. The LandCrusier 76 Wagon is ideal for those who what to get out there and see the best that Australia has to offer, well off the beaten track. And recent safety upgrades have made it a better proposition than ever before.