In the world of 4WD Wagons Toyota LC 76 Wagon GXL reigns supreme.
From the outside the LC 76 Wagon GXL looks exactly like it should for what it is designed for. A utilitarian workhorse that would last forever. It has a bold grill, snorkel, high roofline and sides.
The front has single lights, lower fog lights and bold wheel arches.
Let’s recap what the 2016 upgrades gave to the LC76 Wagon GXL. Safety electronics with extensive local tuning including – vehicle stability control, active traction control, hill-start assist control, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and Cruise control.
In addition to these safety features Toyota upgraded the engine to Euro 5 compliance.
This was achieved through many enhancements but featured – Piezo injectors, Diesel particulate filter (auto regen plus manual switch), improved Fuel economy by up to 1.2 litres/100km at 10.7 litres/100km, improved CO2 emissions of 281 grams/km*, improved by up to 32 grams/km.
Other improvements include the much needed taller manual gearbox ratios in second and fifth gears, Auto-locking front hubs (with manual “lock” option), Fuse box and fused battery terminal, Front seatbelt pre-tensioners and Front-passenger seatbelt warning.
Unfortunately the LC76 didn’t get all the improvements of the single cab chassis Ute which has achieved 5 Star ANCAP safety rating, but those improvements that filtered through to the Wagon are needed and appreciated. The current model LC 76 is a little behind competitors with its ANCAP rating.
Inside the LC 76 Wagon GXL is more spacious than expected. 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.
Rear seats are adequate again with plenty of head and shoulder room and adequate knee and leg room. The boot is cavernous and the barn rear doors allow ease of use, but take some getting used to. I prefer the two stage system of the 200 series where you can use the fold down bottom section as a table.
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, four 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 76 reminds you that you really don’t need some of the fancy things that are in vehicles as the older versions still work.
The addition of electric windows is a bonus and the much needed cruise control means that I won’t have to drive with a stick on the accelerator in future on long trips
However there are some things that are needed.
Additional air bags that have been included in the SCC Ute and PLEASE, PLEASE 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 to hop in and out multiple times to readjust the left hand side mirror because someone had bumped it in a car park or it had rattled loose. It was plain annoying and simply ridiculous. They are great mirrors when adjusted properly.
One benefit of the upright vehicle style is excellent visibility all around.
During its 30-year life, the 70 Series (collectively) has been progressively upgraded with features such as direct-injection turbo-diesel technology, coil front springs and even Bluetooth® connectivity.
Sat Nav still is on the wish list though.
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 (now auto), 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 76 Series vehicles to traverse rugged roads and obstacles that are beyond the capabilities of other vehicles.
Today’s LandCruiser 76 Wagon GXL 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 76. 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.
The taller fifth gear doesn’t seem to affect the lower responsiveness but significantly improves higher speed economy. Previously at speeds of 100kmh the LC76 was revving at around 3000rpm, with the taller gear this drops to around 2000rpm. This changes everything.
It makes cruising more relaxed, especially with the new cruise control, quitter, more economical etc.
The introduction of piezo-electric diesel injectors produces better torque delivery at low engine speeds due to more complete combustion through finer atomisation and more accurate injection of fuel. This also contributes to improved fuel economy and lower emissions
The Toyota Landcruiser LC 76 Wagon GXL is a mixed bag.
In many ways it is an icon from a bygone time like a 70’s rock star that simply won’t die. Yet it still sells in reasonable numbers today. Like its single cab Trayback cousin 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.
Previously long distance cruising in the LC 76 is something only masochists enjoy. Although the updates late in 2016 have made for better long distance cruising it still is way below the first choice for any distance work. It is very loud with wind, tyre and road noise.
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 76 is like a male lion, king of the beasts.
It is here that the LC 76 excels. The low down torque delivery combined with low gearing means that it will gently putter along where needed. It is simply superb. It is unmatched by any other 4WD currently.
We have previously towed trailers both on and off road with the LC 76 and with the 3500kg tow rating and a 350kg tow ball rating it is a great tow vehicle.
In today’s market there really isn’t a direct competitor for the LC76 Wagon GXL. Buyers will either opt for one of the more luxurious wagons like the LC200 series or more car like wagons like the Grand Cherokee or one of the growing plethora of Ute based wagons like the Fortuner.
However none of them are as robust or plain tough as the LC76 Wagon.
The LC 70 series vehicles are extremely popular with buyers in mining, agriculture, construction, and communications support and recreation industries.
They value the almost indestructible nature of the ubiquitous LC 70 series. 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 76 Wagon GXL has a rightly deserved unrivalled reputation for class-leading mechanical reliability and serious towing, load carrying and off-road performance.
It is easily upgraded with a plethora of factory or aftermarket accessories to make it even more unstoppable in the bush.
As I said the LC76 Wagon GXL is a mixed bag, hopeless around tight inner city streets, not really designed for fast highway cruising but simply unmatched off road. It has many faults and I love it.
There really is nothing like it left on the market today and it is only fitting that such an icon should win the COTY Award for 4WD $50,000 – $80,000 for 2016.
- 4WD ability and Robustness
- Torque and power
- Load and towing capacity
What’s Not So Good:
- Lacks all the LC70 series upgrades
- Turning circle
- Manual external mirrors
Model: LC 76 Wagon GXL
Model Price: $72,270 RDAP
Engine: 4.5L V8 DT
Drivetrain: 4WD 5 speed MT
Power: 151 kW @ 3,400 rpm
Torque: 430 Nm @ 1,200 rpm
Safety: 3 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions: 313 g/km
Economy: 11.9 L/100km (ADR comb)
Tow Capacity: Max 3500 kg
Tow Ball Rating: 350 kg
Servicing: Capped Price
Warranty: 3yr/ 100,000 km with full roadside assist
Overall Gay Car Boys Rating 82/100
Behind the Wheel 7
Ride & Handling 8
Fit for Purpose 10
Towing Ability 10
Off Road Ability 10
Value for Money 6