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First Drive: The Toyota Land Cruiser ZX J300

First Drive: The Toyota Land Cruiser ZX J300

Botchi Santos

If there is one car that can truly move the world, it is this, the Toyota Land Cruiser, in its latest, 10th generation, J300 trim. 

A favorite among United Nations Peacekeeping Crops, the Red Cross, and various government dignitaries and heads of state, not to mention captains of industry not just in the Philippines but in many parts of the globe where failure is not an option, the Toyota Land Cruiser stands tall and proud. 

The latest LC300, as most people call it, is built on Toyota’s latest TBGA-F platform. The exterior footprint, width, wheelbase, height and overall length are comparable to its predecessor, the LC200, but the new platform is now 200kg lighter than its predecessor. According to foreign media reviews, the LC300 has an approach angle of 32 degrees, and a departure angle of 26.5 degrees, with a mammoth 230mm of ground clearance. Toyota has also equipped the local variants with a double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension equipped with an Adaptive Variable Suspension System that can ride really soft like a real luxe-barge, or sporty-firm like your European sport utility cross-overs. 

A new pair of twin-turbocharged engines replace the V8 diesel and petrol powerplants, coupled to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. In the Philippines, the sole power plant offered by Toyota Motors Philippines is the F33A-FTV twin-turbo CRDi diesel that delivers a superior 304hp and a gravity defying 700 newton-meters of torque, a massive upgrade from the larger displacement V8 diesel it replaces. It’s also smoother, quieter, less agricultural and truck-like. Toyota took some lessons from BMW, Audi / Porsche and Mercedes-Benz’s smooth oil burners when they designed this new lump.

Together with the 10-speed transmission, progress is swift, smooth and seamless, with Lexus-like levels of refinement and comfort unheard of in previous Land Cruisers. You also get an advanced Multi-Terrain System which is an off-road assistance software that primes the various electronics driving aids to deliver the best traction in a variety of surfaces like snow and mud. An electronically locking rear and center differential are also standard for the LC300. Together with A-Trac (advanced traction control) and Crawl Control features, the LC300 is pretty much an unstoppable tank on any given terrain. 

And like its more sophisticated European competitors, Toyota also installed their full safety suite known as Toyota Safety Sense. This includes Pre-Collision System, Automatic High-Beam Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, and Dynamic Cruise Control. There’s also a Blind Spot Monitoring System plus a high-definition 360-degree camera displaying your surroundings with a massive 12.3 inch LCD display atop the center console, above the HVAC controls. Of course, there’s ABS-EBD brakes, Hill-Start Assist and Hill-Descent Control too. 

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Inside, it feels roomier than its predecessor despite sharing the same footprint: 7-seats are standard, with the third-row offering power-operation to fold flat to the floor. You get a 14-speaker JBL hi-fi system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, five USB-C ports and one USB-A port for phone connectivity. There’s also a wireless charging pad for the latest generation of smart phones that have this feature. The Optitron gauges finally deliver a sharp, sophisticated looking display that’s legible even during low light / changing light conditions but without the glare from older Toyota Optitron gauges. Of course, quad-zone automatic climate control is standard, as are a full leather covered interior, 14-way power adjustable front seats with memory settings and the most commanding view of the road ahead. This would be perfect for a drive around the world. 

On the open road, the Land Cruiser feels light to the touch, effortless to move and has the grace of a ballerina. Thank the lighter curb weight, and crucially, the lighter V6 diesel power plant, which allows the LC300 to corner confidently, without using wide, and brake deeper into tight corners and winding roads. The hydraulic power steering is light but delivers good feel, and the 20-inch wheels shod with 265/55R20 HT tires deliver a smooth, silent ride. We drove it through the Alaminos-Lipa Bypass Road, which carved through the mountains and created a nice wide mountain pass with flowing high speeds and the LC300 just drove beautifully. Getting back onto Maharlika Highway, the LC300 just swelled all the bumps, ruts, potholes and broken tarmac with ease. For more off-road performance, switching to chunkier and more aggressive all-terrain tires should vastly boost the LC300’s prowess. Whether as a driver, a front passenger or riding at the back like boss, the LC300 delivers supreme comfort, luxurious feel, relaxation, confidence and refinement that just wasn’t found on previous generations, yet delivers the same confidence to take you anywhere, anytime, regardless of road and weather conditions, and regardless of whether there actually is a road, or none. And at P5,657,000 for the pearl white ZX variant, it’s a bargain compared to other full-size 7-seat luxury SUVs in the market, but with real off-road abilities. It truly is, the King of SUVs.