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Toyota LandCruiser 300 2023 review: Sahara - off-road test

The Sahara used to be the big kahuna of the LandCruiser line-up – but no more.

It now sits third from the top in the LC300 range, under the GR Sport and the Sahara ZX.

However, that doesn't mean it's not full of the good stuff, because if you're looking for luxury and refinement, as well as real off-road ability and towing capability then this loaded LandCruiser pretty much sets the bar... and it sets it very high.

But, in the grand scheme or things, is the Sahara cock o' the walk or a feather duster?

Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The seven-seat Sahara has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $133,881 (excluding on-road costs). Surely a chunk of cash by anyone's calculations.

Standard features include a 12.3-inch touchscreen (with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a wireless phone charger, four-zone climate control, leather-accented trim, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats (with three-position driver's seat memory), heated second-row seats (outboard), and power-folding third-row seats.

Standard features include a 12.3-inch touchscreen (with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Standard features include a 12.3-inch touchscreen (with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).

There is also cooled centre console storage, a 14-speaker JBL premium audio system and a dual-screen rear entertainment system. The list goes on and on...

Suffice to say, you get a lot for your money, but at this price-point, you'd hope so.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Sahara is 4980mm long (with a 2850mm wheelbase), 1980mm wide, and 1950mm high. It has a listed kerb weight of 2630kg.

The Sahara's exterior has that distinctive LandCruiser appearance, but modernised: it's chunky, tough-looking and ready to be kitted out with accessories, whether they be Toyota genuine accessories or aftermarket gear.

  • The LandCruiser 300 Series in Sahara spec strikes a nice balance between prestige and practicality. The LandCruiser 300 Series in Sahara spec strikes a nice balance between prestige and practicality.
  • The Sahara’s exterior has that distinctive LandCruiser appearance, but modernised. The Sahara’s exterior has that distinctive LandCruiser appearance, but modernised.
  • The Sahara is 4980mm long (with a 2850mm wheelbase), 1980mm wide, and 1950mm high. It has a listed kerb weight of 2630kg. The Sahara is 4980mm long (with a 2850mm wheelbase), 1980mm wide, and 1950mm high. It has a listed kerb weight of 2630kg.

Otherwise, there are chrome exterior mirrors and door handles, and dynamic indicators front/rear that add to its overall quietly classy appearance.

The 'Celestite Grey' premium paint on our test vehicle costs $675. Other paint choices include 'Glacier White', 'Ebony', 'Crystal Pearl', 'Silver Pearl', 'Graphite', 'Merlot Red', 'Eclipse Black', 'Saturn Blue' and 'Dusty Bronze'.

There’s a sense of familiarity in the cabin – it's a functional yet premium space – and it's easy to get comfortable. There’s a sense of familiarity in the cabin – it's a functional yet premium space – and it's easy to get comfortable.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Sahara has the 300 Series' 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel, producing 227kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm from 1600 to 2600rpm.

It has a 10-speed automatic transmission, high- and low-range 4WD as well as a centre diff lock.

It does not have some very handy 4WD-focussed driver-assist tech that is included in the two higher grades (Sahara ZX and GR Sport) but more about that in the Driving section, further down this page.

The Sahara has the 300 Series’ 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel, producing 227kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm from 1600 to 2600rpm. The Sahara has the 300 Series’ 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel, producing 227kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm from 1600 to 2600rpm.

How practical is the space inside?

The LandCruiser is renowned as a great off-road touring vehicle – due to its practicality and functionality – and that reputation is unchanged with the 300 Series.

There's a sense of familiarity in the cabin – it's a functional yet premium space – and it's easy to get comfortable.

The driver is spoilt with a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel and ventilated and heated, power-adjustable seat (with three-position memory). The front passenger also gets a ventilated and heated, power-adjustable seat.

The driver is spoilt with a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel and ventilated and heated, power-adjustable seat (with three-position memory). The driver is spoilt with a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel and ventilated and heated, power-adjustable seat (with three-position memory).

All seats are leather-accented, comfortable and there are soft-touch surfaces throughout the interior.

The Sahara's 12.3-inch colour multimedia touchscreen is a main feature in the cabin and it's easy to use, with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there's a wireless charging pad near the shifter. There are USB-A and USB-C charging points, as well.

There's a cool box in the centre console and its lid can be opened from either side, so driver or passenger can access chilled drinks.

All seats are leather-accented, comfortable and there are soft-touch surfaces throughout the interior. All seats are leather-accented, comfortable and there are soft-touch surfaces throughout the interior.

There's also a powered sunroof/moonroof, whatever you want to call it.

Beyond those features, there are the usual storage spaces, cupholders, receptacles in the doors for bigger bottles, and other spaces for your bits and pieces.

The second row seats are in a 40/20/40 split-folding configuration, and the third row is a power-folding arrangement that stows away forwards and flat.

The third row is a power-folding arrangement that stows away forwards and flat. The third row is a power-folding arrangement that stows away forwards and flat.

The Sahara's cargo space, when all seven seats are in use, is a listed 175 litres (VDA) behind the third row. That grows to 1004 litres when the second and third row are stowed away.

The rear cargo area has a 220V/100W inverter and four tie-down points.

The Sahara’s cargo space, when all seven seats are in use, is a listed 175 litres (VDA) behind the third row. That grows to 1004 litres when the second and third row are stowed away. The Sahara’s cargo space, when all seven seats are in use, is a listed 175 litres (VDA) behind the third row. That grows to 1004 litres when the second and third row are stowed away.

What's it like to drive?

Quiet, comfortable, and easy to spend big days in the driver's seat or as a passenger.

Steering is light and responsive and, with a 11.8m turning circle, this 4WD wagon still feels highly manoeuvrable.

The V6 offers up so much power and torque – and it's all managed so smoothly through the 10-speed auto – that the Cruiser is able to go from standing start to punching along the road at a decent clip, or transition from open-road cruising to safe overtaking without any lag of note.

Ride and handling are well sorted but this is a Cruiser after all so ultimately it tends towards being soft and comfortable, rather than dynamic.

Off-road measurements and angles are decent. Off-road measurements and angles are decent.

Its suspension – double wishbone, independent at the front and live axle and multi-links at the rear with coils all-around – manages to soak up most imperfections in the road surface.

The 300 Series' brakes – ventilated discs all-around – brought the big Cruiser to a controlled stop during two of my patented 'Watch out for that bloody roo!' set-pieces.

In terms of on-road ride, handling and performance, the 300 Series impresses. But how does it perform off-road?

First things first: the Sahara-spec LandCruiser does miss out on some of the handy 4WD gear that the two higher grades (Sahara ZX and GR Sport) get, namely Toyota's swaybar-disconnect equivalent electronic-'Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System' (included onboard the GR Sport), front and rear differential locks (GR Sport), adaptive variable suspension (Sahara ZX and GR Sport) and a rear torque-sensing limited-slip differential (ZX).

We managed all obstacles at our testing ground without any strife. We managed all obstacles at our testing ground without any strife.

But in the grand scheme of things that shouldn't impede you too much, if at all, unless you're really going all-out to break your Cruiser while 4WDing.

We managed all obstacles at our testing ground without any strife.

A few years back when Toyota announced it would replace the V8 with the V6 there was quite a lot of concern voiced over the change. Let's be frank here: there was a hell of a lot of whinging.

But people needn't have worried because though the V8 was a bloody good engine the V6 produces more power and more torque than it does (up 27kW and 50Nm).

So, all in all, in terms of measurements that are suited to hardcore low-range four wheel driving, the LandCruiser 300 Series ticks all the boxes. So, all in all, in terms of measurements that are suited to hardcore low-range four wheel driving, the LandCruiser 300 Series ticks all the boxes.

And that power and torque is consistently delivered across a nice spread of revs.

In combination with the 10-speed auto it's a smooth-as pairing. That auto is very clever – smarter than you and me – because it's never hunting through ratios to try and find the sweet spot, it's always bang-on.

High- and low-range gearing are solid in the 300 Series, and the Cruiser has a 50:50 centre diff lock.

And, on top of all that, you also have access to a comprehensive suite of driver assist tech aimed at making your driving life off-road easier and safer.

A few years back when Toyota announced it would replace the V8 with the V6 there was quite a lot of concern voiced over the change. A few years back when Toyota announced it would replace the V8 with the V6 there was quite a lot of concern voiced over the change.

The traction control system has been really well calibrated – fine tuned, very precise and seamless in its application.

The 300's multi-terrain select system gives you the option of cycling through driving modes such as 'Sand', 'Mud' and 'Rock' to suit the terrain you're on.

In action, those modes adjust vehicle systems, throttle, engine output, etc to give you the best chance possible of getting through every obstacle safely and in a controlled fashion.

Off-road measurements and angles are decent: ground clearance is 235mm, wading depth is 700mm, and approach, ramp-over and departure angles are 32, 21, and 25 degrees, respectively.

It has a 10-speed automatic transmission, high- and low-range 4WD as well as a centre diff lock. It has a 10-speed automatic transmission, high- and low-range 4WD as well as a centre diff lock.

So, all in all, in terms of measurements that are suited to hardcore low-range four wheel driving, the LandCruiser 300 Series ticks all the boxes.

And while there's no denying the 300 Series is a big unit, it feels pretty nimble in the bush, even on tight tracks or pinched approaches to hills or creek crossings.

As well as a dialled-in off-road traction control system and all of those driving modes, it has handy tech such as crawl control, which works like a low-speed cruise control.

So, the only flaw in the 300 Series off-road set-up is its tyres, as its standard Bridgestone Dueler all-terrains (265/65 R18) are better suited to dry-track 4WDing in good weather than taking on any difficult stuff.

In terms of towing capacity, the 300 Series can legally tow a 750kg unbraked trailer, and 3500kg braked.

How much fuel does it consume?

Official fuel consumption is 8.9L/100km on the combined cycle.

Our fuel consumption on this test, from pump to pump, was 12.8L/100km, which is okay considering we did a lot of low-range four-wheel driving.

The Sahara has an 80-litre main fuel tank and a 30L sub-tank so, going by those fuel figures above, you could reasonably expect a driving range of about 860km from a fully fuelled start.

Official fuel consumption is 8.9L/100km on the combined cycle. Official fuel consumption is 8.9L/100km on the combined cycle.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

All of the 300 Series line-up, except the GR Sport, have the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing in January 2022.

Safety gear includes 10 airbags, two ISOFIX anchor points, as well as AEB with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, active cruise control (all-speed), 'Lane Departure Alert' (with brake to steer), 'Road Sign Assist' (speed signs only), 'Trailer Sway Control' and more.

Off-road driver-assist tech includes crawl control, downhill assist, hill-start assist, multi-terrain select, multi-terrain monitor with panoramic view, and active traction control (A-TRC).

All of the 300 Series line-up, except the GR Sport, have the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing in January 2022. All of the 300 Series line-up, except the GR Sport, have the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing in January 2022.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The LandCruiser 300 Sahara is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty which is par for the course in the mainstream market.

Capped-price servicing applies to the first 10 services at a cost of $375 each (correct at time of writing), which is pretty competitive.

Service intervals are scheduled for every six months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. Which is shorter than the more usual 12 months/15,000km.

That said, owners may extend the engine and driveline warranty to seven years by adhering to service schedules.

The LandCruiser 300 in Sahara grade is a very impressive seven-seat 4WD wagon. It's nice to drive, it's refined and – bonus – it well and truly retains that renowned legendary LandCruiser off-road capability.

It's very comfortable and – as with previous-generation Cruisers – has heaps of potential as a top-class touring vehicle, but it has a big price-tag to match, there's no denying that.

While there's plenty to like about the Sahara spec, the GXL offers a nice compromise between price and features as long as you don't mind missing out on leather seats, the cooler box, 14-speaker JBL sound system and a few other bits and pieces.

$135,501

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Adventure score

4/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

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