W ITH such a diverse group of vehicles in this year’s 4X4 Of The Year line-up, it’s just as well that each contender is scored against a set of five criteria rather than pitted directly against each other. After all, how could you compare the on-road touring capability of the Mercedes-Benz G-Professional cab-chassis with the Volkswagen Amarok TDi550 Ultimate, or the off-road capability of the Holden Trailblazer with that of the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Double Cab?
After just a couple of days testing at Rob Emmins’ excellent Melbourne 4X4 Training and Proving Ground, it soon became evident there were two favourites amongst the judges: the Volkswagen Amarok th Volksw Ama 1 7 W I N and the Toyota LC79. Then, after a couple more days driving in some challenging conditions in the Victorian High Country, opinions had changed little.
Each night around the campfire we discussed the relative merits of each vehicle and weighed them up against the 4X4OTY criteria, but it wasn’t until a week after the test that all of the judges’ scores were in and we had a winner: the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Double Cab GXL.
With eight judges scoring each of the five criteria out of 10 points, there were a potential 400 points on offer in 2016.
The Land Cruiser ended up with 300 points, just a single point ahead of the Amarok on 299; even though five of the eight judges scored the VW in front of the Toyota. So it was a very close call!
The LC79 won’t be for everyone, and it certainly doesn’t raise the bar in terms of technology, safety or refinement like, say, the Amarok does, but it’s still one of the most capable 4x4s on the market, with a fantastic TDV8 engine and vastly improved touring capability.
The ageing 70 Series Land Cruiser could have easily been killed off, but pressure from Australian mining companies and other commercial operators convinced Toyota there was life in the ‘old girl’ yet.
While the Double Cab doesn’t benefit from all of the upgrades that see the Single Cab variant achieve a five-star ANCAP rating, it does receive several upgrades that not only improve the vehicle’s safety, but also its touring capability.
If you want a big, capable 4x4 that you can be confident will take you and your family to the most remote parts of Australia and get you home again, you can count on the Land Cruiser 79 to do the job.
www.4X4australia.com.au 59 241/400