Toyota’s all-new Land Cruiser 300 made its grand debut on Thursday night, with the sole intention of being the new king of 4x4s.
As a reminder, the Land Cruiser 300 is built on a new architecture called GA-F, which is related to the TNGA global platform but retains the vehicle’s ladder-frame construction.
The new LC 300 also gains two new twin-turbo V6 engines in the form of a 3,3-litre diesel that pushes 227 kW and 700 N.m and a 3,5-litre Lexus-derived petrol unit that’s good for 305 kW and 650 N.m. Also new on the tech front is a Multi Terrain Select system among many other modern driver assist features.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but it will almost certainly carry a premium over the R1,15 – R1,6 million price range of the current LC 200. You can read more about the new Land Cruiser 300 here.
The Land Cruiser 300’s biggest challengers
Now it’s time to take a look at the rivals the Toyota must beat if it wants to be the king of the SUV jungle. To make an impact in this market, a vehicle has to tame wild terrain while also excelling as a luxurious city cruiser. And there are no shortage of rivals out there that do exactly that. These, in our opinion, are the LC 300’s biggest challengers.
Sadly, we’ve had to exclude the Mitsubishi Pajero from this list because it is in the process of being discontinued, however it is certainly worth an honorary mention as it has competed with Toyota’s Land Cruiser wagons for many a decade and we can’t help but wonder what a redesigned model would have looked like, had the Japanese carmaker found the budget to develop one – or simply used its alliance privileges to create something based around the vehicle we’re about to mention …
Like the Pajero, the Nissan Patrol has been bush wrestling with the Land Cruiser wagons for many a decade, but thankfully Nissan has kept its big wagon warrior up to date over the years and the latest facelifted model was released in South Africa last year.
However, the Nissan is disadvantaged to some degree by the lack of a diesel powertrain. The only option at present is a 5,6-litre normally aspirated V8 petrol unit that produces 298 kW and 560 N.m. It is thirsty, as you’d expect, with Nissan claiming a combined consumption figure of 14,4 litres per 100km.
Only one model is available in South Africa, badged LE and priced at R1 571 700, and it’s got all the bells and whistles that you’d expect at this level, including a 13-speaker Bose sound system and a multi-screen entertainment system that also serves rear occupants.
When CAR Magazine road tested the pre-facelift Patrol in 2018 we remarked that it’s so competent off-road that if you got it stuck it would probably be because you had it in the wrong mode or got lost. However, we also found that it was too big, thirsty and ungainly to make sense as a school-run SUV, despite it offering seating for eight.
Arguably the most iconic and lusted-over 4×4 out there, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is the epitome of macho and given its popularity it’s no surprise that the German carmaker has kept it traditional, in terms of looks and off-road ability, while adding all the necessary luxury amenities.
South Africans currently have two options to choose between, in the form of the G400d Stronger, featuring a 2,9-litre straight six turbodiesel that produces 243 kW and 700 N.m, and a Mercedes-AMG G63 that gets the famous 4-litre V8 turbopetrol, tuned to 430 kW and 850 N.m in this case.
The G400d is priced at R2 892 400 while the G63 commands R3 366 480, which is steep but keep in mind that they are mostly hand-built.
As much as we’re captivated by the G63, we do feel that the G400d is a far more sensible option as it allows owners to fully utilise the vehicle both on- and off-road.
The G-Class is a truly comprehensive 4×4 offering with low range and three 100% locking differentials. Further adding to its capabilities is a traditional ladder-frame chassis constructed with 3,4 mm sheet steel, and which houses a solid rear axle supported by standard-fit AMG Ride Control suspension.
In our recent road test of the G400d, we remarked that the vehicle offered a “mesmerising” 4×4 experience, being best suited to take you places no other luxury SUV can.
Land Rover Defender
If there’s one off-road vehicle that manages to marry traditional charm with modern refinement it’s got to be the Land Rover Defender.
It’s all-round capability made it the undisputed winner in the Luxury SUV category of our 2021 Top 12 Best Buys awards. The Defender is, in every way, a luxury conveyance, from its starting price north of R1 million, to its sheer size, impressive practicality and fantastic array of model derivatives, powertrains and lifestyle-orientated add-ons.
Then there’s the harmonious yet stylish interior and exterior design that will stand the test of time … all capped off with the knowledge there is not a remote corner of the globe to which you cannot drive a Defender.
As mentioned, there is a dizzying array of engines, spec grades and options, with prices ranging from R1 141 966 to R2 439 310. Available in various petrol and diesel flavours, outputs range from 177 kW to 386 kW.
And one final wild card …
Ineos could throw a spanner in the SUV works with its upcoming Grenadier, which was engineered from the ground up to handle the world’s harshest environments, and be one of the most competent off-road vehicles ever created.
It’s not on sale yet, however, and last we heard it was on course for a 2022 introduction in South Africa.
Like its key 4×4 rivals, the Ineos Grenadier is built around a ladder frame chassis and will use BMW engines.