We’ve been chomping at the bit to get behind the new LandCruiser 300 series since its announcement earlier in the year. It’s one of the most sought-after vehicles in the country and rightly so, with heritage and performance a given in every model since the 40-series in the 1960s. It’s so sought-after in fact, that even we couldn’t get out mitts on one until a big black chrome studded Sahara ZX model rolled into the picture.
It’s been an off-roading type of year in the Man of Many garages. We’ve tried everything from 1 of 40 Jeep Wranglers to new Defenders, however, the LandCruiser 300 Series was always going to be the one to jump in before the year was all said and done. We got behind the wheel of the baller spec Sahara ZX as soon as we had the chance, and with the GR-Sport offroad model unavailable until mid-January, the ZX would be our introduction to the range – and what a place to start.
|High Point||Low Point||Verdict|
|The engine and gearbox combination works to perfection. With 10-speeds to choose from the LandCruiser is always in the powerband and it has more than enough grunt for the average customer. Drive mode selector is effective and useful.||The price point is extremely high for a vehicle that screams to be kept on the tarmac with low-hanging bumper bars and more chrome than you can point a stick at. If you’re not taking it offroad, there are simply better choices on the market.||While you’d rather take a LandCruiser offroad than just about any other car on the market, the Sahara ZX customer likely won’t. But if the idea of traveling around the country at any point appeals, this is the luxurious barge of the bunch.|
Coming in at a whopping $138,790 plus on-road costs, the Sahara ZX sits in this strange spot between a luxurious barge and supreme offroader. You see, at no point while driving the ZX did we even consider testing its capabilities offroad, and to commit to any sort of serious 4WD’ing (or touring of the country) you risk damaging its lower-hanging bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels, scratching the black paint, or ripping off a sidestep. In any case, you’d want to opt for the GR-Sport in most offroad scenarios and you start to understand why finding a competitor to the Sahara ZX is quite the struggle.
To commit to the lump sum of money that the vehicle costs, you’d be sacrificing better and more luxurious interiors, better drivers displays, ride quality, power, and almost everything else for the one or two times in the year that the horse float needs to be towed down a slightly muddier than normal road. The Sahara ZX is for a very specific customer, one who wants some of the German luxuries, without the in-your-face badge. Someone who wants a vehicle that can drive forever and hold some resale value in the process. If you’re not that person, you’re better off looking in the direction of something like a 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class GLE400 d, which in itself would accomplish 90% of the offroad duties a luxury 4WD customer could ask for – except for the traveling around the country part.
|2022 Toyota LandCruiser Sahara ZX|
|Price (MSRP)||$138,790 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of the test car||Black|
|Options||Metallic paint – $675|
|Price as tested||$139,465 plus on-road costs, roughly $152,753 drive-away (depending on state)|
We’re not talking about all 300 Series LandCruisers here either, with the GR-Sport model hitting the garage in January we’ll be looking forward to bringing you a comprehensive off-road review of that vehicle at the top of the new year. For now, let’s check out the Sahara ZX in depth.
How Does the LandCruiser Sahara ZX Drive?
Pricing a car on par with some of the best from Germany demands a quality ride, engine, and mode selection process and the Sahara ZX accomplishes such with refined suspension (that remains offroad friendly) and one of the more obvious and effective drive mode selectors in the class. The engine, while new and physically smaller than the old V8 Turbo-diesel is up on power across the board and combined with the 10-speed transmission is a highlight of the vehicle.
|2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series Sahara ZX Engine Specifications|
|Engine||3.3-litre twin-turbo V6|
|Power||227kW at 4000rpm|
|Torque||700Nm from 1600–2600rpm|
|Transmission||10-speed automatic transmission w/ full-time four-wheel-drive|
|Fuel consumption||8.9L/100km (claimed)|
|Fuel tank size||110L|
How Does the 300 Series Engine and Gearbox Perform?
We’re not going to sit here and write a 1000-word exposé about the differences between the old V8 motor and the new V6, but if you’re at all considering paying a premium for the sound of a V8 turbo diesel over this new V6 you’d hope you have rocks in your head. The new motor and gearbox combination on the LandCruiser 300 Series brings the vehicle into the modern era and doesn’t sound half bad in the process (albeit not as good, but still worth mentioning).
10-speeds might sound like a lot on paper, but as Ranger drivers would know, it adds to the driving experience without ever taking anything away. With torque available from as little as 1600rpm it doesn’t matter what gear you’re in, the 300 has enough in reserve waiting for a quick overtake or jab of the right foot to boost you over a rock or through some mud. While we didn’t get a chance to load a big caravan on the back this time around, we’d be surprised if you ever knew it was there with this much torque available at such low RPMs.
Most notably, the drivetrain is much smoother at low speeds than pretty much any other ladder-on-frame car money can buy. You’ll still notice the odd stutter or jerk as all the mechanical components link together and get you moving (something less apparent on the European models) but it never interrupts the experience on the inside.
What are the Highlights?
The biggest highlight of the vehicle’s performance was the drive mode selector that transform this ladder chassis behemoth into a true split personality machine. When you hop inside you’ll be mistaken for thinking the big knob next to the wheel is the push start, but in fact, Toyota has just stuck the selector front and centre to remind you to use it whenever you get the chance – and you’ll want to.
When pushing the 300 down tight winding roads, sport mode tightens the suspension and helps prevent excessive body roll, not only creating a better experience for the driver but the passengers in the back too. We haven’t driven a ladder frame chassis vehicle that drives this well on-road and responds to driver inputs this accurately while remaining a comfortable barge that you could rack up 1000km’s in comfortably. Of course, it’s no European when it comes to driving dynamics, and the steering, brake pedal, and accelerator are all a little vague, but for a ladder frame, off-road focused vehicle, we have to tip our hats to the Toyota engineers. Bravo.
Is the 300 Series LandCruiser Comfortable on Long Drives?
In simple terms, yes. While the Europeans rule the road around town, the Sahara ZX performs better everywhere else. If traveling into the sticks is your avenue of adventure then look no further. About as comfortable as you could ask for while remaining focused on the offroad, gravel, and sand that a LandCruiser calls home, the ZX is made for long-distance adventure with Adaptive cruise control (with full stop-and-go speed control as standard for both ends of the journey), 10 airbags for safety, and automatic high beam being just some of the features that add to the experience.
Above all, the LandCruiser is a very nice place to sit and it helps make big journeys fly by. Let’s take a look at the inside.
What’s the Toyota LandCruiser Sahara ZX Like on the Inside?
Interior highlights on the new Toyota LandCruiser include:
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (Wired Only).
- 12.3-inch colour touchscreen.
- 14-speaker JBL audio system.
- Two 11.6-inch rear entertainment touchscreens w/phone mirroring.
- Cooled glovebox (worked like a charm with our packet of mince!).
- Illuminated sidestep.
- Carbon fibre look door trim, centre console, and steering wheel.
- Front two seats and rear outer seats wrapped in genuine leather w/ heating and ventilation with individual control.
Toyota must serve two crowds with the LandCruiser, the crowd like ourselves who expect levels of luxury that are equal to the price of the car, as well as the crowd who argues “what are you going to do when that breaks” and we can understand both arguments. Unfortunately for the Sahara ZX it leans a little too heavily to one side and would likely underwhelm the buyer who plans to drive it every day (especially if cross-shopping luxury SUVs in the same price bracket).
We understand the amount of R&D that goes into creating a LandCruiser is greater than everything else on the market, but it already feels a few years behind on the interior design front. Vehicles like the Land Rover Defender better strike the balance between form and function, and while you could easily argue the interior is intentionally designed to zag for longevity where European examples zig for looks, there’s just not enough flair to warrant the price you’re paying for the car.
In any case, that’s not to say it’s not a beautiful place to sit with comfortable leather seats, a good driving position (arm and knee locations are perfect), easy to navigate console (with plenty of physical buttons and switches), big cupholders, a refrigerated centre console that opens from both sides and enough bells and whistles to keep you entertained for months. Our favorite part is that we could actually just press a button to turn the volume up and down and another to skip a song unlike sliding a capacitive touch button that works 6/10 times like in other new cars today – how crazy is that!
Probably the biggest letdown from the interior was the infotainment. In our eyes, it just isn’t good enough from a car that costs upwards of AU$150,000, and even when you compare it to cars that cost a third of the money it is solid at best. We strictly used Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (Wired Only!) in our test car and the speed and responsiveness of the center touchscreen were adequate and better than other Toyota models.
Screen quality, however, was subpar and looks hazy under normal light conditions. The themes on the screen itself are uninteresting and it’s not at the expense of function either. Yes, the visuals are easy to read, but with menus that are reminiscent of a Windows 98 computer powered by an iPhone 6, an aftermarket head unit might be on the horizon after only a few years of ownership just to keep up with the times. The lack of USB-C connections might hint at the age of the car more than anything else.
We hoped and expected more from the LandCruiser in this department, especially when you consider the size of the touchscreen at 12.3-inches – it looked great in pictures. The 14-speaker JBL audio system sounds epic and provides audio from AM/FM or DAB radio, Bluetooth, and a CD/DVD player. Our test was fitted with a pair of 11.6-inch rear entertainment touchscreens that have phone-mirroring capabilities, maybe the most modern piece of tech in the car.
Should You Buy a 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series Sahara ZX?
The LandCruiser Sahara ZX is a very specific model for a very specific buyer. It was a great introduction to the LandCruiser 300 Series range, however, when comparing it to the best from Europe (of which it targets in many ways) it lacks the technology and interior presence from the likes of Mercedes, BMW, etc.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to do a lap of Australia in the utmost luxury we can’t think of a better vehicle. The ladder frame chassis means you’re ready to go off the beaten track at any moment, being a Toyota it will run forever, and the new engine and gearbox combination proves a winner in the case of the outgoing V8. We can’t wait to get our hands on the GR-Sport to test its offroad prowess, but our recommendation of the bunch would be the GXL that sits around the AU$100,000 mark and represents far better value in the segment (you won’t hesitate to take it offroad either).
Warranty and Service Pricing
In the case of the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series, you’re looking at 5-years/ unlimited KM warranty. That’s on par with the average in the industry, and with two of the most reliable badges in automotive mounted to the rear of the vehicle, we doubt you’ll ever need it. Toyota caps the price of service at $375 per service, with six-month or 10,000km intervals.
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||6 months or 10,000km|
|Servicing costs||$2250 (3 years), $3750 (5 years)|
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