HIGHWAY STAR

CRUISER’S UPGRADES FELT ON THE ROAD TO BATHURST.

WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS

TOYOTA LAND CRUISER 79 GXL SINGLE-CAB 4X4 SHED 078 DATE ACQUIRE D: DEC 2016 PRICE: $74,715 KM THIS MONTH: 3862KM AV FUEL: 13.78L/100KM KM 0 0 5 9 1 7 09

CRUISER’S UPGRADES FELT ON THE ROAD TO BATHURST.

LAST month we mentioned we lost a number plate off the Land Cruiser when driving off-road. This wasn’t the first plate we’d lost off a 79, so it may be a problem for anyone with one.

It turned out to be a bigger problem for us than first anticipated, as Toyota grounded the vehicle when we told them, and VicRoads had to inspect the vehicle before issuing a new set of plates for it. Apparently, plate theft is a big problem in crime-plagued Victoria.

So the Cruiser was off the road for two weeks while we waited for the new plates, but we hit the highway as soon as we got it back. Not an off-road trip this time, but north to Bathurst for a weekend of camping and motorsport.

It’s on the open road where you feel the benefits of the 2016 upgrades. The taller top gear makes highway speeds more relaxing, and the lower touring revs help keep fuel consumption down.

The new seats are also now more comfortable for long days behind the wheel, and the inclusion of factory cruise control makes keeping your licence a bit easier.

The massive tray behind the singlecab easily accommodates camping gear, with six sturdy tie-down points to secure the load. A second battery would be nice to keep the fridge running on such weekends and, although this truck doesn’t have one, an auxiliary battery kit is now available as a genuine Toyota accessory.

That big tray was put to use again back in town when MOTOR magazine needed something to transport a go-kart to the track. With its 2400mm length and no wheel wells to intrude on the cargo space, nothing short of a light truck beats the 79 for this job. The tray might be a bit high for such a job, but two people can lift the kart in with relative ease. Plus, there’s still space left for tools and race kit.