Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series Lives On And Here's What You Need To Know
Toyota fans requested that the trusty old-school 70 remain unchanged – and unchanged it remained (mostly)
The 70 Series Land Cruiser is a truck many wish they’d had but most don’t. Why is that? Well, it is an amazing machine that is only sold to a select number of countries with the main purpose of being a work vehicle (predominantly for the mining industry).
Now, as you may know, Toyota keeps models like the Land Cruiser alive for many years without making any significant updates. In fact, the current generation 70 series has remained mostly unchanged since its first introduction back in 2007, with the original dating back to the mid-80s. Although simple by design, the 70 was starting to beg for a refresh, and a refresh is exactly what Toyota has given us.
While the spotlight was on the U.S.-Spec model, known internally, as the Land Cruiser 250, the old-school 70 also received an update. The new vehicle is more of a facelift rather than a redesign. But regardless, some much-needed features that are worth mentioning have been added to the lineup.
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Before we get into the new 70 series, it is important to know the reason this vehicle exists in the first place. The 70 Series Land Cruiser is a truck that is meant to do work in the harshest of environments. Toyota produces a model that is as simple as a vehicle can be while also meeting safety and emissions standards. So, on the inside, don't expect much from the 70. Some variations of the current model still have manual windows. This is no grocery-getter, this is a full-on work truck.
What further backs this up is the fact that underneath the retro body, you will find solid front and rear axles and a thick leaf spring pack in the rear ensuring that the 70 can haul large amounts of weight. Differential lockers front and rear are also available. So, what did Toyota update on a simple machine like this one?
Generally speaking, the 70 Series Land Cruiser is a vehicle that most people admire. However, owners have repeatedly reported let-downs that can be very annoying. Those let-downs are what Toyota has mostly addressed.
First and foremost, the 70 Series now comes with a smaller 2.8-liter turbo diesel that can be had with an automatic transmission. The 2.8-liter engine is a direct carry-over from the Hilux and should provide the lineup with a more economical and refined vehicle. Sadly, the big 4.5 liter V-8 which will still be available can’t be paired with the automatic transmission. This is rather disappointing as the 200 Series Land Cruiser did pair that same engine with an automatic.
As you can see in the above table, power figures for the two powerplants are relatively similar; however, the 4.5 liter V-8 is still the engine to have. You see, the V-8 is delivered with a conservative ECU tune that holds back a great amount of power. With a simple tweak, the big V-8 can surpass the 2.8 liter by a great amount making it much more powerful. Sure, the 2.8 variant can also be tuned, but the V-8 from Toyota is widely known for the great amount of power it can produce.
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As you can imagine, a model that has remained mostly unchained since 2007 will be lacking some safety features and this was certainly the case with the 70 Series. Now, the new model hasn’t given us any major upgrades in structural safety, but it now has radar systems that can help avoid a crash in the first place.
As standard, buyers get updates like road sign assist, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning. Furthermore, the 70 now has an updated front end that utilizes LED headlights rather than halogens. Also worth noting is the fact that Toyota went for a round and retro headlight look with separate side markers (just like the pre-2007 model) that makes the new car look incredibly good.
One of the biggest gripes with the 70 Series was the fact that the interior was a bit too simple. It had nothing, not even an armrest that was high enough for your arm to rest on. It is well known, that if you want your 70 Series Land Cruiser to be comfortable you have to spend a lot of money on aftermarket accessories for the interior.
So, what has Toyota done about this? Did they change the seats and center console? Well, no. Sadly the 70 Series has remained the same in the area of seating position. However, it has gotten electric windows in all trims and a 6.7-inch infotainment screen that supports Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Furthermore, it now has USB C ports and a small 4.2-inch information display right next to the analog dials. The rest of the dashboard looks fairly similar to the old model, but it is safe to say that the addition of a proper infotainment system should make the interior feel slightly more up-to-date.
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One of the benefits of keeping a vehicle largely unchanged is the fact that it keeps its old-school underpinnings. As mentioned above, the 70 still utilizes solid axles and diff lockers meaning that it is incredibly capable and tough.
However, there are a few limitations that limit its off-road abilities. Firstly, it is widely known that the leaf pack in the rear is mounted under the axle instead of on top. This leads to a low point that tends to get hung up in deep ruts, rocks, and mud.
The second limitation is a different track width in the front and the rear. You see, when Toyota added that big 4.5 liter V-8 back in 2007, the front axle needed to be widened. Toyota viewed the 70 as a vehicle for the mining industry, so they didn't bother widening the rear as well. The reason this is a problem is that the car needs to open up two different sets of ruts every time it is driving through soft ground.
The front wheels open up a path and then the rear ones need to open a second one as they sit further inside. This leads to more drag. Of course, the aftermarket is full of components that correct this track width issue but it would have been nice if Toyota addressed it from the factory.
In the past, Toyota completely ignored the off-road and overland market that existed for the 70. The company viewed the vehicle just as a work truck; therefore, they didn't pay much attention to the details.
However, with this new update, the company seems to have started paying attention to the buyers that want the 70 for personal use. Why would they give it cool retro headlights and infotainment upgrades if all they cared about was the mining industry?
This is good news as the 70 Series Land Cruiser is a dying breed. Most 4x4s nowadays tend to be a bit overcomplicated. Sadly, this amazing truck won’t be making its way to America. But with a few tweaks, it could easily give Jeep and Ford some tough competition. So, who knows, one day Toyota might end up selling it across the pond.
Theo has dedicated his life to cars. He has studied the only Automotive Journalism course in the world located at Coventry University and describes this passion as a clinical obsession. Give Theo four wheels and he will drool over the piece of metal, plastic, and glass in between them for hours. Once he is done, he will let you know if it’s good or not.