By: IOL Motoring Staff
Prospecton, Durban - Toyota has gone on a 4x4 offensive, releasing two very similar jumbo SUVs in South Africa at the same time.
The first is its Land Cruiser 200 SUV, updated for 2016 with some styling tweaks (we're open to discussion about how well these work) and a raft of new features.
Then there's the Lexus LX (essentially the same vehicle with sportier styling and more complicated gizmotronics) which now emphasises its cousinship to the Land Cruiser by offering a diesel V8 option for the first time.
The outline of the Land Cruiser's butch new chrome grille extends into the headlight clusters (bi-LED in the more expensive VX version) which now have an auto high-beam feature so finely tuned that it'll not only dip the beams for oncoming traffic but also when you come up behind a slower vehicle.
There are some crisper lines sharpening the profile, as well as new rims (17 inch for the entry-level GX, 18 inch for the VX) while a new chrome garnish runs across between bigger taillight clusters and above raised rear-bumper sight line (the closest thing we've seen to a 'butt tuck' on a Toyota!) to underline the Land Cruiser's formidably wide stance.
As before, the GX has 'panel van' vertically split rear doors and a snorkel on the driver's side A pillar, while the VX has a tailgate, rear spoiler and chromed window trim.
'CAPTAIN ON THE BRIDGE!'
Instrumentation and switchgear have been regrouped, with all driving-related controls on a new console around the gear lever, while the VX gets a nine-speaker Electro Multi-Vision with a nine-inch colour display. The GX features a touchscreen audio system, and both models have satellite navigation, traction control and lane departure alert. VX versions also come with rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and individual tyre pressure monitoring.
A new pre-crash collision mitigation system uses milli-wave radar and a front-facing camera to detect a possible collision and, if you don't respond to its warning beeps and flashing lights, it'll hit the brakes.
Exactly the same hardware enables the active speed control to maintain a safe following distance.
A new Multi-Terrain Select system tailors the Land Cruiser's performance to suit the terrain, switching through six modes - Rock, Rock & Dirt, Mogul, Loose Rock, Mud & Sand and Auto - as required, with an additional crawl-control feature for when discretion is the better part of valour.
Linked to the terrain select system is multi-terrain monitoring, relaying visuals of the surrounding environment to the flight deck from four cameras - front, side mirrors and rear - as well as an 'underfloor' view. It records the ground surface ahead of you to create a forward-looking image - very useful for checking where the wheels and underbody are at, in both rock-hopping and deep sand.
GX models are finished in grey fabric while VX customers get full leather trim in their choice of black or tan, with wood veneer accents.
PROVIDING THE PROPULSION
It ain't broke and Toyota hasn't fixed the Land Cruiser's 4.5 litre turbodiesel V8, delivering 173kW at 3200 revs and 615Nm from 1800rpm, and mated to a six-speed auto transmission.
The same engine, tweaked for 195kW and 650Nm (on tap from 1600rpm), with the same six-speed slushbox, is now also available for the first time in the Lexus LX, alongside the familiar 5.7 litre petrol V8, good for 270kW and 530Nm, via an eight-speed auto transmission.
FOR THE ‘L’ OF IT
The LX also gets multi terrain select and crawl control, as well as blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. New luxury features include a rear sunshade, tyre pressure monitoring, wireless cell phone charger (using Qi technology), seat ventilation and heating for both front and second row passengers, and new roof rails.
The flight deck gets a new 12.3 inch multi media display with remote touch control, as well as a 4.2 inch colour display in the instrument cluster and a head up display - all working off the same menu - and a new three-spoke steering wheel with an intimidating array of fingertip switchgear.
The front end has been re-styled around a big trapezoidal grille with solid horizontal bars and a bold Lexus 'L' logo in the middle. New headlight clusters with triple LED 'cylinders' and auto high-beam function are framed by L-shape daytime running lights. Wider, L-shaped tail lights punctuate a nipped-and-tucked rear end, and the LX rolls on new 20 inch alloys.
Toyota Land Cruiser 200
4.5 GX AT - R850 000
4.5 VX AT - R1 141 700
LX 450d - R1 393 000
LX 570 - R 1435 100
Land Cruisers come with a three-year or 100 000km warranty and five-year or 90 000km service plan, while Lexuses (Lexae?) are covered by a four-year or 100 000km maintenance plan.Talk us to us via Twitter and Facebook.