The latest LandCruiser Sahara was launched way back in 2015 and while it remains probably the most robust 4WD on the market it is showing its age in other areas.
My first LandCruiser was a HJ60 Sahara bought in 1986 and the LandCruiser has remained at the top of most buyers lists for a reliable, robust, practical 4WD.
Yet it competes in the prestige segment of the SUV market against the likes of the Land Rover Discovery, the newly released value for money Nissan Patrol, Range Rover Sport and Audi Q8/Q7 to name a few.
As such the lack of some technology, safety and connectivity features is becoming obvious.
What is the Sahara like to look at?
The design of the Sahara has been an evolutionary process over the years. It big and bulky, yet seems somehow sleek as well.
I like the twin bonnet bulges, they add character. Also over the years Toyota has gotten rid of those ridiculous glass protrusions on the lights.
Otherwise there is a sightly protruding grille, projector halogen headlamps, integrated lower bumper and fenders at the front. There are roof rails and a rear spoiler as well as integrated LED tail lamps.
The BI LED low-beam headlamps and LED foglights all sit nicely in profile. Bi-LED headlamps incorporate dynamic auto-levelling. Sahara runs on 18inch alloys with 285/60 R18 Dunlop Grandtrek AT tyres. 18 inch rims means the choice of genuine AT or off road tyres is made easier.
How comfortable is the Sahara inside?
In the front there are two large heated and air-conditioned leather seats with electronic adjustments and driver additional lumbar support. Very comfortable as a recent trip to the snow reinforced.
Overall the ambience is practical with a touch of luxury, with woodgrain inserts and soft touch leather dash. Even with sunroof there is more than ample head room. I would like a touch more seat slide for my long legs, but it’s roomy enough.
As it sits high there are grab handles for all doors to assist with getting in and out as well as side steps. The visibility is excellent for a large 4WD, but more on that later. There is also a clever twin sun visor system that allows you to block out the sun from the side and front at the same time.
The dash layout is simple to use and understand. Twin large dials in the instrument binnacle with a MFD between are framed by the electronically height and reach adjustable leather and wood insert steering wheel.
Controls on the wheel are not confusing and simple to use. The cruise control is the older stalk style that I love. Others don’t like it as much, but it is again simple to use and you can select between adaptive and non-adaptive functions. .
The centre box is a chill bin with a dual lid and the chill section will hold about 6 cans or 4 bottles of drink. Actually I would probably prefer a tiered storage area.
In front there are two large cup/bottle holders and the controls for the 4WD system.
On the centre stack are the climate controls, surprisingly there is also an optical drive and on top is the 9″ Electro Multi Vision (EMV) touchscreen audio display with Satellite Navigation. One slightly annoying feature is that the fan controls for the climate system can only be reached via the touch screen.
The SD card lives below the optical drive. Another recent feature is a hidden Q charging platform for phones. Otherwise there is plenty of storage with a large twin shelf glove box, door pockets etc. , centre stack works great and plenty of storage on the doors, glove box etc. The centre console is cooled for drinks, however it does limit storage for phones etc. a little.
Rear seats have both heated functions for the outer two seats as well as large 11.6 inch screens for passengers. I have mixed feeling about these. I feel that passengers will have their own tablets and maybe these could be put in place when used and removed.
There is enough room for three passengers, and the third row seats will seat two, with no leg, knee or foot room though.
Boot room is huge, however the ridiculous fold up rear seats consume a fair amount of it. They are better than before but I would remove them permanently.
What are the Sahara features, technology and infotainment connectivity like?
It’s starting to show its age a little and some features you might expect are missing like Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity and HUD. When you compare it to an Audi Q8 as we did on a recent snow trip, the missing technology is apparent.
- roof rails,
- Bi-LED headlamps that incorporate dynamic auto-levelling
- LED clearance lamps,
- LED front fog lamps and daytime running lamps
- horizontal-split electronic tailgate,
- smart entry and start
- Body-coloured, heated, power retractable side mirrors.
- 18-inch alloy wheels,
- rain-sensing wipers variable intermittent wipers (front and rear),
- power-retractable exterior mirrors,
- moon roof and
- rear spoiler
- leather-accented seats, steering wheel and gear-shift knob,
- three position memory for seats, mirrors and steering wheel,
- Optitron instruments with a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display
- nine-inch touchscreen display,
- Four-zone front climate-control air-conditioning,
- Rear cooler,
- a second 12-volt connector and a 220-volt rear connector,
- reversing camera,
- satellite navigation,
- wireless smartphone charger
- privacy glass
With the camera applications drivers can now obtain a panoramic view around the Sahara using four cameras – front, rear and in the side mirrors – to provide added confidence with the placement of wheels, both when moving forward and reversing.
The front camera now rotates so that the horizon is always displayed as level on the enlarged in-car display to provide drivers with an intuitive understanding of the tilt angle of the vehicle.
An under-floor view, displaying images taken approximately 3m ahead of the vehicle, allows drivers to see an image that indicates where the front wheels are placed. This makes 4WD off road driving a breeze in tight situations.
Safety is a key aspect for buyers and the Sahara doesn’t disappoint. The ANCAP safety 5 star safety rating was obtained in 2011 so it’s due for another round.
Toyota Safety Sense with Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Pre-Collision Safety system (PCS) with pedestrian detection, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Active Cruise Control (ACC) is standard on the Sahara.
Other standard safety features include:
- seven airbags,
- vehicle stability and active traction control,
- front and rear parking sensors,
- multi-terrain monitor with reversing camera,
- multi-terrain anti-skid brakes,
- hill-start assist control,
- trailer sway control,
- An emergency brake signal and tilt/telescopic adjustments for the steering column.
- dynamic radar cruise control,
- lane-departure alert, and
- Blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
- Child restraint anchorage points x 3 • • • •
- Luggage tie down hooks
Engine and Drivetrain
Powered by a 4.5L V8 Turbo diesel engine the Sahara pumps out power of 200 kW @ 3,600 rpm and torque of 650 Nm @ 1,600 – 2600 rpm. This drives a permanent 4WD system through a six speed automatic transmission and a Torsen Limited Slip Centre Differential.
The combination is a little old now but it works well enough.
The beauty of this engine is the power delivery, way down low in the rev band. This means that not only does it sound reassuring but it potters along without any fuss.
Hit the accelerator and it will lift its skirt and run better than you would expect from a massive vehicle like this. On that line of thought, the Sahara handles better than you would expect as well. Steering is relatively direct and the big beast responds directly to driver inputs. It certainly isn’t sporty but it is better than many similar 4WD’s.
Off road the Sahara’s ability is class leading, especially with the Multi Terrain Select, Crawl control and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. This where the combined low torque delivery and six speed transmission come to the fore allowing the driver complete control on their right foot.
Sahara Suspension is front Independent double wishbone with a coil spring, gas dampers and anti-roll bar. Rear 4-link coil rear suspension with Panhard rod with coil springs, gas dampers and anti-roll bar
Towing is a breeze, there are any number of aftermarket and original accessories and almost every town has a Toyota dealer.
No wonder LandCruiser is so popular for outback touring. One thing to watch out for though is the small payload ability. If I was buying one I would get a payload upgrade before original registration. Otherwise people tend to load these cars up with everything under the sun and are overweight. This voids warranty and insurance.
What are the LandCruiser Sahara dimensions?
The Sahara has an
- Overall length of 4990mm,
- Wheelbase of 2850mm,
- Width of 1980mm and
- Height of 1945mm.
- Unladen ground clearance is 230mm
- Approach 32, Rampover 21, Departure 24 degrees,
- Fuel tank is 138L
- Kerb weight of 2740 kg, GVM 3350 kg, GCM 6850 kg and Payload of 610kg,
- Towing capacity is 3500kg and tow ball rating is up to 350kg.
My previous Sahara ownership.
Way back in 1986 we bought our first LandCruiser. It was the HJ60 Sahara and at the time it was the ultimate in off road luxury and practicality.
The vehicle was a naturally aspirated diesel and asthmatic so we added an aftermarket turbo, upgraded the suspension with an Ultimate lift kit, Hayman Reese tow kit, roof rack, bull bar, snorkel, CB radio, portable fridge and with a Viscount Ultra-Light caravan set off on the first of many trips.
The car was a beast, it was unstoppable, unbreakable and performed faultlessly for over 10 years for us with well over 400,000k on the clock when we sold it.
Fast forward to 2020 and here I am sitting in a brand new LandCruiser 200 Sahara and how times have changed. This vehicle is full of the new technology, safety and luxury features, has an awesome V8 turbo diesel engine and costs more than many can afford.
It is still close to the pinnacle of off road luxury and practicality. Yet if I was to set off on another long outback trip I would add almost the exact same aftermarket accessories. Times have changed and yet eerily remained the same.
LandCruiser Sahara Summary
I simply love it and its faults. There is a special feeling you get cruising along the road in one of these and turn off the main road to the beach, fire trails, snow of further outback and the confidence of being able to take your family virtually anywhere and back safely is awesome.
It provides a relaxed, pleasant driving experience, is universally practical, it is great for families, outback tourers and true 4WD enthusiasts. It is expensive at just under $125,000, but represents pretty good value for money.
What is good!
- Powerful diesel engine
- Smooth ride and handling for a large 4WD
- Towing and 4WD ability
What is not good!
- Underslung spare tyre
- High price
- Fold up rear seats (simply ridiculous)
Also look at
Model: Toyota LandCruiser 200 Sahara
- Model Price: $124,396 MLP*
- Engine: 5 L V8 DiD
- Drivetrain: 4WD 6 speed auto
- Power: 200 Kw @ 3,600 rpm
- Torque: 650 Nm @ 1,600 – 2600 rpm
- ANCAP Safety: 5 Star (2011)
- CO2 Emissions: 250 g/km
- Economy: (ADR comb) 9.5 L/100km
- Tow Capacity Max: 3500 kg
- Tow Ball Rating: 350 kg
- Servicing: Capped Price
- Warranty 5yr/Unlimited km with full roadside assist
*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.
Overall Rating 89/100
- Behind the Wheel 9
- Comfort 10
- Equipment 8
- Performance 8
- Ride & Handling 9
- Practicality 8
- Fit for Purpose 9
- Towing Ability 10
- Off Road Ability 10
- Value for Money 8