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The big daddy of Toyota’s SUV line-up has just been reloaded with extras. This generation of the Land Cruiser 200 has been on the market since 2007, but owners of serious off-roaders, who have a taste for adventure, don't care for unnecessary or frequent redesigns...

The biggest change to the range is the discontinuation of the petrol engine, which leaves the 4,5-litre V8 turbodiesel as the only option. Producing 173 kW and 615 N.m of torque from 1 800 r/min, the model has a claimed combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 10,3 L/100 km – which is way less than that of the previous, thirsty petrol V8.

The grille is bigger and more "American-looking", which is a good thing, with the further addition of narrower headlights with LED running lights. Incidentally, auto high beam is one of the 200's many added features. The massive bonnet has a large central flute that adds an impression of strength and lashings of chrome are generously applied (in contrast to the lesser specced GX model that sports a black grille). At the rear, enlarged taillamp clusters are adjoined by a chrome piece.

The tailgate on the VX is horizontally split and the two rearmost seats can be folded away to the sides (the GX version has only five seats and double barn doors at the rear). A standard feature on all models is an external black snorkel air intake.

The interior is packed with comfort features, such as supple black leather upholstery, electrically adjustable front seats, a large central armrest, a nine-inch touchscreen for operating audio, climate control and navigation functions, as well as four cameras around the vehicle that are handy when traversing obstacles, but also during parking manoeuvres.

Another TFT screen situated between the dials on the dashboard relays driver-related information such as fuel consumption and tyre pressures. All displays feature the same white on black display and the instrumentation is very sportily laid out: the large dials are flanked by four small circular gauges depicting fuel level, coolant temperature, oil pressure and battery voltage. Front seats are heated and cooled and the air-con is a four-zone setup.

There's a full complement of 10 airbags, including dual front knee 'bags and rear side 'bags. While off-roading in the Golden Gate National park (for which Toyota had to obtain special permission) we tested the new multi-terrain function that offers programmes for rock, rock and dirt, mogul (mound of packed snow, according to the dictionary), loose rock, mud and sand and auto. Crawl control, with adjustable speed settings, is added for “feet-off” driving. 

The well-weighted steering is hydraulically assisted and offers excellent feel, while the suspension provides a smooth, absorbent ride over any surface. It makes use of the hydraulic KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) than can disconnect the roll bars for extra wheel articulation, double wishbones in front and multilink at the rear, with coil springs all round.

Ground clearance is up by 5 mm (to 230 mm). Towing capacity is 3 500 kg, while fuel tank capacity is 93 litres plus a secondary tank of 45 litres. The claimed wading depth is 700 mm.

The engine is smooth and extremely quiet (for a diesel) and provides effortless power with just a touch of turbo lag from the dual turbos. The sound insulation in the cabin is top class and there is little NVH apart from a bit a wind noise intrusion at about 120 km/h.

Meanwhile, the six-speed automatic gearbox works well with the engine and there isn’t too much hunting on acceleration. Sport mode can be selected for up changes at higher revs and manual shifts can be actuated via the transmission selector. 

Overall, the Land Cruiser 200 4,5 VX is an accomplished long distance cruiser that is equally at home on freeways and the rough stuff. Service intervals are the customary 10 000 km and all models in the range come with a service plan of 5 years or 90 000 km.      

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