Why I bought

Why I bought: Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series

Why people buy the 4X4s they do is always an interesting question. This time it’s the change from a Discovery 3 to a Landcruiser 79…

What did you own before and why did you buy it?

Our last vehicle was a 2009 Discovery 3, purchased as a new vehicle. We purchased the D3 as a replacement for our Series 2 Discovery. The purchase process was somewhat arduous as Annie my wife did not like the look of the D3 (tissue box on wheels). After test driving numerous vehicles (Prado, Patrol Pajero and 200 Series) there was still unhappiness for both of us as nothing felt like being in the Series 2. A chance drive of a D3 uncovered the issue.
We both loved the driving position of the Land Rovers. We wanted a daily driver, genuine offroad ability and something that could tow well.

What were 3 best and 3 worst things about that vehicle?

Best
1. Extremely comfortable
2. Great off road straight off the showroom floor
3. Just a great car to drive due to its versatility and ability to fulfil the role as a family
car, tourer and tow tug.

Worst
1. Maintenance costs provide more excitement in my life than required,
2. When travelling remote there is NO support for this type of vehicle. While it never
let us down on a actual trip the occasional gremlin lead to some twitchiness at times
(suspension decided to take a rest while out at Steep Point. But as usual with the
Land Rover it was just a matter of turning off counting to 10 restarting and the vehicle
self healed!)
3. Lack of technical expertise to address gremlins even within the dealer network

What features were you looking for in a replacement vehicle?

Our last big trip to WA in 2015 with our van had us looking down a few of the longer remote tracks and thinking next time we come we are not towing. We wanted something that we could set up as a self contained camper for 2. As we were planning early retirement we were looking for something to allow us to spend the next 10 years travelling the more remote parts of our great country. The LC79 is ubiquitous in outback Australia which means while you may not find a dealer service department there are a lot more mechanics (and parts) out thereto assist in the event of things going pear shaped.

While most do not consider the LC79 to be an economic vehicle I believe the total cost of ownership over a 10 year period – estimated 400,000km – will be lower than most vehicles.

Which vehicles did you consider and why?

We looked at the various dual and single cab utes on the market but in reality they were coming up short for a vehicle we wanted to use for 10 years travelling the unsealed roads and tracks. We knew we wanted to fit a slip on camper body so a high payload capacity was seen as essential.

We were also looking for a few less hi-tech features as our experience with the Land Rover was that it was the higher level of technology resulted in fewer people being capable of addressing the little gremlins that tend to creep in as the vehicle ages. Long term durability was something we were looking for and time will tell if we have got it right.

What made you settle on your current vehicle?

Once we had settled on a LC79 the hard part was deciding on Single or Dual Cab. We settled on the single cab as it allows for the slightly larger Trayon Camper and better overall weight distribution. Usable payload is higher and after a bit a calculating and reorganising we have got it to the stage where we have the ability to take our caravan on some trips in addition to the Trayon for the more off road parts of the trip. This has been achieved within GCM, upgraded GVM and allowable axle loads. Others may choose to take a boat etc. This vehicle provides us with lots of flexibility.

Now you’ve got it, what are the 3 best and 3 worst things about that vehicle?

Best
1. Its ability to carry a fully self contained camper and allow us to travel to out of the
way locations.
2. No shortage of aftermarket options.
3. Excellent vision from a high seated position (we are under average height!)

Worst
1. Interior cab storage is very restricted
2. Turning circle
3. Below average braking when fully loaded

What modifications have you made or have got planned?

Modifications is a interesting word, in the case of the LC79 I look at many of them as improvements that in a number of cases should have been addressed by the manufacturer over its long life.

Prior to registration
We had Multidrive, a Geelong based company, fit their GVM upgrade to 3780kg and their TruTracker system. The TruTracker corrects the standard wheel track so that both front and rear track are the same width. Fitment prior to registration allows for a secondary manufacturer compliance plate to be fitted saving money on a separate engineering sign off as is required if completed post registration. Both of these should have been addressed as part of initial vehicle design in my view.

Post registration

  • ARB Bull Bar and side rails, Warn winch
  • Dual Battery (in under tray tool box) with Redarc DC-DC charger
  • ARB onboard compressor (removed from my Land Rover) D3
  • GME UHF, Alpine radio and Sat Nav, Aurion Cruise Control
  • Replacement centre console and over windscreen top shelf (awesome for storing / charging
  • phones ipads etc.
  • Stratos Suspension seats and Denim seat covers
  • Brown Davis replacement main tank (155 litres taking total fuel storage of 253 litres)
  • Safari Snorkel (replaces factory raised intake)
  • Replacement Head Light Globes (OEM has woeful output)
  • Fyrlyt 5000 driving lights
  • Clearview Mirrors for towing.

Based on your experience, what else would be useful for prospective owners to know?

Just be prepared for high initial costs, do your homework on weights etc if you intend to fit slide on camper body etc. Custom trays look great, but can use up a lot of your payload.

Things you take for granted on most cars may NOT be in the LC79. No automatic transmission, no power mirrors, no lid on centre console [ there is on the 2017 models]. Oh yes standard brakes leave a lot to be desired. But you do get a feeling of robust construction.

This is one vehicle you will need to test drive with a mate as you won’t find too many demonstrators available!!
This vehicle is very different to the Land Rover Discovery it replaces, think enormous turning circle, interior cabin noise and ride refinement. But go in with yours eyes open and if you need a heavy duty tray ute to take you where you want to go there is really not much alternative.

At a very young 41,000 km no regrets and just one warranty item (cig lighter fuse was missing from build) We were initially looking to purchased a used vehicle BUT the prices being asked for used non mining examples were hard to justify and as result we took delivery of our new GXL single cab LC 79 in November 2015.

How is the Toyota LC79 compared to the Land Rover Discovery 3 offroad?

In terms of offroad comfort the D3 is much more comfortable especially compared to unladen LC 79. Loaded up the LC79 is much more comfortable ride. We fitted suspension seating which is of most benefit actually on pot holed paved roads when travelling at highway speeds or unladen off road

An interesting evaluation would be standard suspension vs the Multidrive GVM upgrade.  As our upgrade was done prior to rego I do not have a good feel for that.

In terms of off road capacity the turning circle of around 14.4 metres makes for more work on switch back type tracks but you just need to learn to live with it. The manual gear box took me back to early days of my first 4×4, Datsun MQ Patrol, except that the low and flat torque makes for less work.

Both D3 and the LC79 run all-terrain tyres and both are very capable but in comparison you probably need to think a little more in the Cruiser – which gear, diff locks yes or no ?

In the D3 you just drove in letting the automation including electronic rear diff lock just do its thing, locking and unlocking under computer control. The manual select diff locks has got me unstuck a couple of times in the Cruiser and their standard fitment in the GXL was one of major benefits of the GXL versus other models. In my view it brings off-road to very similar level to D3 when operating OEM tyre sizes.

The super low gearing in the LC79 is awesome for stepping gently up or down rocky sections of track. Keeping in mind that with the Trayon on the back and full of fuel / water we weigh in around 3500 kg I am not into bouncing the LC79 up or down the tricky sections.

Overall given both vehicles have huge off road capability just needs to be applied a little differently. Is the LC79 the thinking man’s 4×4?  Not really you just need to make a few more decisions which is not a bad thing. Lots of thought and discussion with my wife about what to replace our Discovery 3 with. Now we’re 20 months and 41,000km into our journey with the LC79 and Trayon there are no regrets.

How is the Toyota LC79 compared to the Land Rover Discovery 3 onroad and for towing?

Towing performance is again mainly different rather than better or worse. I do miss the auto for backing trailers especially into tight spots etc. We tow a little slower with the LC79 just to keep fuel consumption reasonable.  I am not one to keep accurate data on fuel but the Cruiser runs around 12 -14L/100km in my day to day use, and with the Trayon 14 -18. We are yet to collect full trip data towing our caravan but one shorter trip was around 18L/100km at a speed of 90-95km/h.  In the D3 we would travel around the 100 limit and achieve slightly better consumption.

4X4 PM Comment

Andrew is not the only Discovery owner to love the car but not the running costs. Not of all them swing the other way though to the basic, manual LC79!

It is unusual for a 4X4 owner to worry about the brakes but it is an area that needs attention, as now the vehicle has to run with much more weight than it was designed for, all the time, and especially so with a GVM upgrade. For 4X4s the upgrade you want is better-quality brake pads. Changing the brake fluid won’t help as it is unlikely to overheat, and same deal for the brakelines. Disc rotors are just lumps of cast iron, and holes are never a good idea as uneven heating tends to crack the discs – this is a problem for 4X4s entering water at the end of a steep downhill. So just upgrade the pads and see how that works out.

The payload is always a concern, even with the LC79 GXL which has tare weight of 2175kg and a GVM of 3400kg  to give a payload of 1221kg, much more than any of the smaller dualcab utes.  The GVM upgrade to 3780kg means a 1600kg payload…huge!

There are automatic conversions for the LC70 but they aren’t cheap.

The latest LC70 has higher gearing, improved safety features, electronic traction control and still offers twin cross-axle locking differentials so should be easier to drive onroad, safer and more capable than ever before.

What made you switch to your current vehicle? Write in and tell us and our readers!

Further reading


Andrew Hilliard

Andrew Hilliard