“You did WHAT?”

That was the typical response to my recent controversial decision (in my circle of friends) to sell our 4 door Pajero diesel in favour of the much lauded (in conventional circles) 100 Series Land Cruiser.

Now of course, in the United States this vehicle is as ubiquitous at “Overlanding” events as the Dodge Caravan is at a soccer game (or was – nowadays it’s pretty much any crossover, right?)

Canada, eh?

But here in Canada? Not so much. We didn’t get the 100 Series, only its upmarket Lexus counterpart. And the LX470 is an uncommon sight in its own right, in these parts. So I didn’t exactly trade in exclusivity, although one could argue legitimately that there are probably a thousand per cent more 100’s here than imported Pajero Di-Diesels. But still – why trade a platform I’ve practically got stock in, for one which is a black hole in my knowledge base?

The Two R’s: Reputation, and Reliability.

The Land Cruiser in most guises inspires dreams of pleasant vistas or harsh terrain, but nary a road in sight either way. And the 100 Series goes one further, adding middle eastern diplomatic service and World Health Organization to its shopping run. It’s hard to find anyone, even non-Toyota enthusiasts, who can muster up a disparaging word about the UZJ100 as anything but a reliable workhorse. A thirsty horse yes, but the steed you want in your stable when there’s work to be done.

There are countless diatribes on the legend that is the Land Cruiser. Some claims border on lunacy, but most are somewhat based in fact, and backed up with hard data. Here’s an article from “Well Rigged” that attempts to prove “Why Land Cruisers Are the Most Reliable Vehicle Ever.” (Link takes you outside TGP)

If we were shopping for an SUV that could tow more, and wanted to continue being ensconced in Japanese reliability, this seemed like a reasonable choice, but…

I’ve always loved the second gen Montero/Pajero. I had two of the regular models, and still have the Pajero Evolution, so this isn’t a well-kept secret. But towing in the Rocky Mountains has never been the Mk 2’s party piece.

(Cue the dream sequence)

What would be ideal is to take a nice body-on-frame blister fender, make it a little bigger, and then fit it with a v8? We could keep the stuff we liked so much like the superior visibility, and reliability. We’d insist on retaining the overbuilt drivetrain, with live rear axle and tough as nails torsion bars. But perhaps throw in some goodies like height adjustable suspension, and some more sound proofing? Did I mention 2 more cylinders?

I humbly submit for your inspection – the 100 Series Land Cruiser.

It’s not a perfect representation. It’s maybe a little too big for tricky trail work? And it’s not exactly at the cutting edge of style and tech. But in some ways, that’s what makes it great. Scan Craig’s List, and you’ll find pages and pages of the things with (never mind the “Toyota Tax” prices) seriously overworked odometers, on their original engines and transmissions, and no signs of giving up any time soon. I’m talking about 350k miles and up. Love em or hate em, they prove everyday that they can go the distance.

So, Again, Why Toyota?

Well, I don’t see it as “Toyota”. I see it as a Land Cruiser. Not your average everyday Corolla, RAV4, or even Tacoma. Nope. This one is in a different class, sitting in the same row as Mssrs. Pajero, Patrol, Defender, and that German guy, Galendawagen or whatever he calls himself. They may all be at retirement age (indeed, retirements have already been announced) but they still have a lot of life left in them yet.

This is uncharted territory for me, as a Mitsu guy. Guess it’s time to see what all the hype is about? (Don’t worry, the Paj Evo and the shorty diesel are still with us for the forseeable future.)

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