In the world of work Utes the Toyota LC 70 Cab Chassis reigns supreme. We tested the single cab chassis GXL version over a couple of weeks and grew used to its split personality.
From the outside the LC 70 looks exactly like it should for what it is designed for. A utilitarian workhorse that would last forever. It has a bold grill, high roofline and sides. The front has single lights, lower fog lights and bold wheel arches. The particular vehicle we had was fitted with a robust genuine Toyota steel tray, Toyota bull bar, alloy wheels, snorkel, under tray spare wheel carrier and tow bar.
Inside the LC 70 is more spacious than expected and much more spacious than the range of work Utes on the market. There is enough leg room for my 190cm tall frame, plenty of headroom, even with a hat on and while it is a little cramped changing gears the height adjustable steering wheel allows more flexibility.
The dash looks like my old HJ 60 series Sahara Landcruiser. It is improved obviously but I swear the AC controls are straight out of the parts bin from those days. The seat is supportive but could do with some lumbar support. The steering wheel actually feels pretty good in the hands and allows good feedback. It is however totally devoid of any controls.
The dash has two larger dials, two smaller and provides a large amount of information. There is a clock on the centre stack, a Bluetooth stereo and below are the slide controls for the AC. Like my old HJ 60 Sahara there is a hand throttle/idle up button. Apart from some missing features the LC 70 reminds you that you really don’t need some of the fancy things that are in vehicles as the older versions still work.
However there are some things that are needed. These include cruise control, as your foot feels like it will fall off on long trips, and electrically adjustable external rear mirrors. Let me repeat this, the external rear view mirrors are still manually adjustable. Yes you read that right. This essentially meant that almost every day I had hop in and out multiple times to readjust the left hand side mirror because someone had bumped it in a car park. It was plain annoying and simply ridiculous.
One benefit of the upright vehicle style is excellent visibility all around.
During its 30-year life, the 70 Series has been progressively upgraded with features such as direct-injection turbo-diesel technology, coil front springs and even Bluetooth® connectivity. There is an updated version coming later this year again with what seems like many improvements again.
Even so, it continues with the attributes that have made it such a versatile off-road vehicle – a tough box-section chassis, simple part-time 4WD system with two-speed transfer, lockable hubs, excellent low-range gearing, long-range fuel tanks and excellent ground clearance.
These features, combined with ample approach, ramp-over and departure angles, enable the 70 Series vehicles to traverse rugged roads and obstacles that are beyond the capabilities of other vehicles.
Today’s LandCruiser 70 Series models are powered by a 32-valve 4.5-litre V8 turbo-diesel engine with common-rail direct injection and an intercooler. It delivers 151kW of power at 3400rpm and peak torque of 430Nm from just 1200rpm all the way to 3200rpm – a particularly flat torque curve.
This is actually one of the main features of the LC 70. The torque curve or flat line allows you to drive in fifth gear all the way from 40kmh up to 120kmh. You can idle and pull away at 40kmh without chugging or problem. This does however affect fuel economy.
The Toyota Landcruiser LC 70 Single Cab Ute is a mixed bag. It has dual personalities. On road and around town it feels like a sumo wrestler trying to buy clothes at Supre’. It is big, cumbersome, has an atrocious turning circle (that I discovered at a tight inner city roundabout much to my dismay and the mirth of onlookers) and simply is out of place.
Long distance cruising in the LC 70 is something only masochists enjoy. The lack of a sixth gear means that the LC 70 is sitting around 3000 – 3200 rpm at highway speeds, it is very loud with high rpm, wind, tyre and road noise, and as mentioned the lack of cruise control leaves some drivers with a cramped right foot. I believe this is being addressed at the next update.
However the dual personality comes to the fore when you turn off the tar roads and head bush, either on dirt roads or on the farm. Here the LC 70 is like a male lion, king of the beasts. It is here that the LC 70 excels. The low down torque delivery combined with low gearing means that it will gently putter along where needed. It is simply superb.
On test we loaded the LC 70 up with a pile of furniture we moved, a load of hay we sold, we also took a load of steel, including an old Hilux Ute tub, to the recyclers and the LC 70 performed effortlessly. We have previously towed trailers both on and off road with the LC 70 and with the 3500kg tow rating and a 350kg tow ball rating it is a great tow vehicle.
The current model LC 70 is a little behind competitors with its ANCAP rating but again the update aims to address that with a 5 star ANCAP rating. The vehicle will be fitted with five airbags (existing driver and front-seat passenger airbags plus the addition of two curtain-shield airbags and a driver’s knee airbag) along with vehicle stability control, hill-start assist control, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and cruise control. So let’s wait for the update.
In today’s market there really isn’t a direct competitor for the single cab LC 70 Ute. Buyers will either opt for one of the smaller size Utes like the Colorado or Hilux size, or go for the more truck variant like the Isuzu etc. The LC 70 is extremely popular with buyers in mining, agriculture, construction, communications support and recreation industries. They value the almost indestructible nature of the ubiquitous LC 70. I have friends on farms that have Landcruiser Utes that are 20 years plus old, have been belted beyond recognition in everyday use and still keep going strong.
The LC 70 has a rightly deserved unrivalled reputation for class-leading mechanical reliability and serious towing, load carrying and off-road performance.
- Torque and power
- Load and towing capacity
What’s Not So Good:
- Needs 6th gear
- Turning circle
- Manual external mirrors