Ahead of its imminent release, Toyota has confirmed their all-new 300 Series LandCruiser SUV will offer not one, but two flagship models when it lands here later this year.
Part of what Toyota calls a dual strategy, the existing Sahara range-topper will be replaced by a Sahara ZX variant that offers “peerless on-road luxury,” while an all-new addition is the GR Sport, which offers what’s claimed to be distinctive off-road character and prowess.
Existing grades of GX, GXL, VX and Sahara will remain, and along with the new variants, are built on the same all-new platform, with a more powerful and efficient engine, new equipment and improved technology.
Toyota Australia Vice President Sales, Marketing and Franchise Operations Sean Hanley said the arrival of two new top-of-the-line LandCruiser variants would further broaden the customer appeal of the legendary 4WD.
"Our new GR Sport is the absolute expression of the LandCruiser DNA - the ultimate 4WD that is specially equipped for owners who truly love driving on rough trails and in off-road rallies," Mr Hanley said.
"The graceful styling of the Sahara ZX adds an even more prestigious and advanced high-quality image for customers who use their LandCruiser primarily for urban driving and holiday getaways with their families.
"Impressive new or upgraded features and technologies across the all-new range represent remarkable value, taking LandCruiser SUV luxury to new heights while advancing the legendary model's rugged reputation as the king off the road."
LandCruiser GR Sport
Arguably the more exciting of the new LandCruiser variants, the GR Sport is inspired by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing motorsport arm that has also developed GR-badged road cars, like the GR Yaris and GR Supra.
According to Toyota, the GR Sport delivers a “deeper off-road and sporty character that reflects the contribution of the motorsport-inspired GR brand”.
Design elements and model-specific features set the GR Sport apart from the rest of the LandCruiser 300 Series line-up, starting with a bold front design that features prominent TOYOTA lettering displayed across a gloss-black mesh grille with honeycomb pattern.
This blackout grille and lack of the Toyota ellipses badge is particularly striking when the GR Sport is seen alongside the other 300 Series variants.
Ramming home this variant’s identification are GR Sport badges on the grille, doors, tailgate, steering wheel, front-seat headrests, ignition button and also on the multimedia screen at start-up.
While some of the press imagery shows the GR Sport in silver-finished alloys, the standard wheels are black, 18-inch in size and “dedicated to off-road performance and durability,” according to Toyota.
These wheels are framed by black wheelarch trims and there are also black side steps, door handles, mirror casings and window trimming.
The blackout treatment extends to the front bumper and lower rear bumper emphasise the LandCruiser's off-road DNA.
Inside the GR Sport, there's a choice of two leather-accented trims - a sporty black with carbon-like ornamentation for customers who intend to undertake heavy off-road use, or an aggressive red-and-black treatment with black applied around the instrument panel, to ensure durability and ease of use for functional components.
It should also be noted that the GR Sport is a five-seater only, unlike the GXL, VX and Sahara grades that are seven seaters.
Away from the cosmetic side of things, the GR Sport’s off-road capability includes standard front and rear diff locks and the technological innovation of the world-first e-KDSS (electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System). This enables advanced control of LandCruiser's suspension by independently locking and freeing the front and rear stabiliser bars.
The versatility of the e-KDSS system results in two seemingly contradictory achievements: optimum road holding and wheel articulation in off-road environments, as well as a smaller roll angle that delivers a higher level of on-road ride comfort and handling stability.
Listed approach and departure angles for the GR sport are 32 degrees and 25 degrees, respectively, with ground clearance at 235mm, but wading depth is not listed.
While the 300 Series overall is lighter than the 200 Series it replaces, the GR Sport is the heaviest of the new range at 2580kg – a full 110kg heavier than the base GX.
Most other componentry is as per the rest of the new LandCruiser 300 Series lineup, with highlights including five driving modes, adaptive variable suspension, adaptive high beam headlights and carbon fibre-look trim.
The GR Sport will also serve as a base for a future entrant in the Dakar Rally. Gazoo Racing will be heavily involved in the development of this competition version, as they have with past HiLux-based Dakar rally machines.
Pricing for the LandCruiser GR Sport starts at $137,790.
LandCruiser Sahara ZX
While appearing to be the same as the Sahara variant at first glance, the Sahara ZX, with a similar chromed grille and the same headlights, tail lights, bumpers and side trim, there are some differences.
Starting with a reshaped front bumper, the Sahara ZX also features illuminated side steps, front-door scuff plates, rear mudguards and chrome ornamentation on the thick rear bumper.
Twenty-inch alloys in a new design are exclusive to the Sahara ZX, framed by body-coloured wheelarch trim.
Inside, there’s a choice of three trim colours – black, beige and red/black – with carbon fibre lookalike trim on the steering wheel, centre console and door trims.
Like the GR Sport, the Sahara ZX is a five-seater only and weighs close to that variant, too, at 2570kg.
Stand-out equipment includes four heated and ventilated seats, hands-free tailgate with a kick sensor, and a torque-sensing limited-slip differential on the rear axle.
While it runs the same engine, transmission and four-wheel drive system as the rest of the new LandCruiser 300 Series range, the Sahara ZX is a road-focussed variant, so suspension tuning and other elements have been adjusted with this in mind.
Pricing for the LandCruiser Sahara ZX starts at $138,790.
Common elements to the GR Sport and Sahara ZX that also apply to the rest of the new LandCrusier 300 Series start with the TNGA body-on-frame construction, that’s lighter yet stronger than the old chassis, and include a twin-turbo V6 engine and ten-speed automatic transmission.
Producing a listed 227kW and 700Nm, the twin-turbo diesel V6 actually outperforms the 200 Series’ 4.5-litre V8 it’s replacing, while the new ten-speed auto, with manual shift mode, is a modern upgrade on the existing six-speed auto transmission.
Combined with permanent four-wheel drive that includes a low-range transfer case, this new drivetrain delivers high performance with enhanced fuel efficiency that customers will appreciate, according to Toyota.
In addition, there’s a newly-developed independent front and four-link rear suspension that improves on-road dynamics, as well as AWD Integrated Management that harmonises steering assist, brake and throttle control, shift pattern and drive torque distribution for precise handling and stability.
Toyota’s latest Safety Sense package is standard across the range, including autonomous emergency braking as part of a pre-collision system that can detect pedestrians (day and night) and cyclists during the day.
All-speed active cruise control, auto high beam and lane-keeping technology that steps up to lane-trace assist with steering-wheel vibration are also on the safety spec list, but some of these features are not standard on the lower grade GX and GXL.
What these grades lose on the safety front, they add in other areas, including a larger 9.0-inch centre console infotainment screen (previously 6.1 inches), while VX variants and above increase this to 12.3 inches.
Despite downsizing to a V6 engine, braked towing capacity remains unchanged at 3.5 tonnes and overall dimensions are much the same as the 200 Series, at 4980mmL x 1980mmW x 1950mmH. GR Sport and Sahara ZX vary a little, in part due to their model-specific bumpers.
Wheelbase is 2850mm and the GX variant actually has the widest track at 1687mm front and 1668mm rear.
The all-new Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series is due for Australian release before the end of 2021. Pricing increases across the board, starting at $89,990 and topping out at $138,790 (+ ORCs).
2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series pricing*
LandCruiser 300 GX - $89,990
LandCruiser 300 GXL – 101,790
LandCruiser 300 VX - $113,190
LandCruiser 300 Sahara - $131,190
LandCruiser 300 GR Sport - $137,790
LandCruiser 300 Sahara ZX - $138,790
*MSRP, excludes on road costs