Recently, our Mitsubishi importer announced that the Pajero will no longer be offered. The Nissan Patrol has been withdrawn from our market many moons ago, the last one we got was the fifth generation Y61. This means that the Toyota Land Cruiser 150-series (aka the Prado) is the last of the Japanese hard-working kind of SUVs. The last man standing of an illustrious trio.
The popularity of the “Big Three” started in the early eighties. Initially with the 1980 third gen 160-series Nissan Patrol and the 1982 first gen L040-series Mitsubishi Pajero (aka Montero and Shogun). The Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series light-duty arrived in 1984.
Throughout the eighties and nineties, the Nissan was the preferred choice among livestock dealers, contractors, gardeners, market vendors and the like. What these professionals have in common, is that they all need a durable and capable trailer tower with a powerful, yet fuel-efficient diesel engine. Good off-road capabilities? Merely a side-issue.
Meanwhile the Land Cruiser 70-series light-duty evolved into the 1996 90-series, the 2002 120-series and the current 150-series, launched in 2009. Since 1990, this line of Land Cruisers is marketed as the Toyota Prado in many parts of the world.
The power unit of this utterly black 2013 150-series is a 3.0 liter, inline-4, DOHC 16v turbodiesel with an intercooler. Known as the 3.0 D-4D engine, or 1KD-FTV, if you prefer. Maximum power output 190 DIN-hp. Rather conservative for that kind of displacement. Durability first, in other words.
This is a 5-door, long wheelbase version (registered curb weight 2,190 kg – GVM 2,990 kg). A much shorter 3-door Land Cruiser is also available. It looks familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because the Lexus GX, as offered in North-America, is fully based on this Land Cruiser 150-series.
Now let’s have a look inside.
Shown here is the Executive trim level. Quite close to the interior of a contemporary Lexus GX, I assume.
The transmission is a 5-speed automatic. Of course there’s a transfer case too.
Now to me at least, seeing this was a real surprise. A Land Cruiser with rear seats, as almost every single one of them gets an aftermarket van-conversion: rear seats out, flat cargo floor in, right up to the front seats. With a registration as a commercial vehicle as a result. Much cheaper to buy and much cheaper to drive (far less road tax, mainly). You must run some kind of business though, I mentioned several of them further above.
The non-factory Land Cruiser van is preferred to the also capable and cheaper factory HiLux pickup. You see, a van has always been our numero uno choice when it comes to light commercial vehicles, by a wide margin. Only inexpensive and/or smelly stuff gets thrown on and off an open bed truck, anything else goes into an enclosed van. Long, heavy and voluminous goods are typically loaded on a trailer.
The maximum towing capacity of a Land Cruiser van is 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs). More is possible, but in that case air brakes and a heavy-duty trailer coupling are legally required.
Here’s a fine example of a Land Cruiser 150-series with a van-conversion, registered as a commercial vehicle. Nothing to see on the outside, apart from the blacked out windows. It’s a genuine two-seater though! (photo courtesy of Veldhuizen B.V.)
Still body-on-frame with a live rear axle and independent front suspension. Right behind the Bridgestone tire you see the left chassis rail.
Functional running boards, standard items on all Land Cruisers.
Besides Nissan and -soon- Mitsubishi, rugged Japanese diesel-SUVs were also offered by Isuzu and Daihatsu at some point in the past. As already mentioned, it truly makes the Land Cruiser the last man standing from the Land of the Rising Sun. That is, in my neck of the woods. And I don’t see it going away anytime soon, as its diesel engine (currently with 2.8 liter displacement) is still meeting our latest emission standards.