Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series Buyer’s Guide

Reliable, tough and rock solid resale – what’s not to love about Toyota’s most beloved SUV?

By Imthishan Giado

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

If you were to ask a random passerby to name one car – just one car – that sums up the spirit of the UAE, the one that instantly snaps to mind when you think about this proud country, the answer would be invariably always be the same; the iconic Toyota Land Cruiser.

After more than half a century in the UAE, it’s not hard to see why. The Land Cruiser provides an enviable cocktail of rugged practicality, bulletproof mechanicals and outstanding off road ability that no other manufacturer has been able to replicate, save for perhaps the arch-rival Nissan Patrol – and even that car has moved away from its basic roots of late.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

Not the Land Cruiser, which remains a full-size SUV that is at home in the crowded carparks of our many malls as it is in the harsh Liwa desert, easy to manoeuvre and with room for seven full sized adults (if not their luggage). Trims range from utilitarian to full-fledged leather-and-wood luxury, and if properly maintained will still look its best for years to come, well after European rivals take up residence in the repair shop.

Unfortunately for second hand buyers, phenomenal reliability also means phenomenal resale value. The Land Cruiser is a car that practically refuses to depreciate with even ten-year old examples still fetching surprisingly high prices. Another less-welcome aspect of the Land Cruiser’s exceptional reliability is that it tends to hide abuse very well. It is easier than you think to pick up a car that looks superficially clean but has plenty of nasty surprises waiting a few months down the line.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

The 4.5-litre six is the most common Land Cruiser engine

History

As mentioned before, the Land Cruiser has a long and proud history in the UAE.. Interesting fact for you history nerds; a consignment of 28 cars were the very first cars imported by a small dealership named Al Futtaim Motors all the way back in 1955.

The first Land Cruisers were in essence, a Japanese Land Rover. A simple rugged ladder frame, solid axles front and rear, a big petrol six and a choice of bodystyles that included either two-door short wheelbase or four door station wagons, the early cars closely mimicked the famed Series One Land Rover, while the styling borrowed liberally from the Jeep playbook.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

A/C should blow ice cold

From the ‘50s, the Land Cruiser splintered into two lines: the iconic FJ40-series that was built to venture where few feared to tread, and the 55 Series which could transport more passengers and cargo while still being very capable offroad. In 1980, the 55 gave way to the more luxury-focused boxy 60 Series that finally featured a proper car-like interior, as well as modern electronic fuel injection and automatic gearboxes.

The F series engines that had powered Land Cruisers since 1945 were finally ditched in 1989 with the advent of the even-more luxurious 80 Series and its now-famous 1FZ 4.5-litre inline six. Styling adopted the ‘aero’ trends of the time and the Land Cruiser now sported every mod con from cruise control to power antennas, while still maintaining offroad supremacy. Thanks to its tough solid front axles which also provided better ground clearance, the 80 Series is still a highly sought after car today for serious offroaders. For everyone else, it will probably feel out of date.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

The Power window control panel can fail – a replacement is Dh750

But you would be much better served with its 100 Series replacement, the car that saw massive success in the UAE market. Introduced in 1999, this Land Cruiser was extensively redesigned with a wider and more stable track, standard driver and passenger airbags, more car-like handling from a fully-independent double wishbone front suspension and for the first time ever, a V8 engine. The 100 Series received a major update in 2003 that brought a more modern interior, while the exterior received continuous updates in the form of various headlight, bumper and trim upgrades until its replacement in 2007.

100-Series Land Cruisers were sold in four trims: G, GX, GXR and VXR. The first two can effectively be disregarded as they are stripped down variants for modifiers and commercial use respectively. GXR is the most popular trim and the one you see in the pictures on this page, a station wagon body with a spare wheel mounted either on the horizontally-split rear tailgate or slung underneath. Underneath the hood lies the rock-of-ages 4.5-litre six which produces 212bhp and 275lb ft of torque, mated to either an four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual box. In 2005, the rear taillights were updated to LED units.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

Low range should engage smoothly and without any clunks from the transfer case

VXR is the topmost spec and cars are packed with power options including electric seats with memory, six-disc CD changers and front and rear climate control, as well as plenty of leather and wood trim and standard sunroofs. Unsurprisingly, these cars will still command the best prices, in part due to the standard-but-thirsty 4.7-litre V8 engine, good for 228bhp and a meaty 302lb ft of torque. Nearly every VXR car sold had a five-speed auto but in some very rare cases, you can find ones with a five-speed manual.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

Rear A/C is common, but climate control is not

Driving

People who are used to driving more car-like crossovers will find any Land Cruiser a shock. This is very much an old-school 4×4 in terms of handling; the big ‘Cruiser pitches forward under braking and leans heavily through the bends while the rack and pinion steering delivers almost no feel but requires a lot of arm twirling to keep everything pointed in the right direction. It is worth remembering that safety systems in this generation were very basic with only ABS to stop the truck from sliding on poor surfaces; there is no stability or traction control available to keep this top-heavy truck from tipping over on bends or sliding.

At over two tonnes the Land Cruiser is a heavy car, but the super-torquey engines can almost hide that fact. Off the line, the 4.5-litre pulls hard and strong but it’s deceptive, running out of breath early at just 4,600rpm, although tall gearing masks this fact somewhat. On paper the V8 is quicker but in reality does not feel hugely more powerful, the extra cylinders and higher 5000rpm rev ceiling providing an advantage only once you pass 100kph.

Unsurprisingly, fuel consumption for both units borders on downright awful. Don’t expect to see better than 14l/100km for the six, and even with a careful foot, you will struggle to better 20l/100km with the V8. Due to their more relaxed gearing and higher torque outputs, the automatics sip less fuel than their manual counterparts.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

Make sure all the original tools are still in place!

Checklist

First things first: avoid all cars that have spent any serious amount of time in the desert – and under no circumstances buy one that has been used as a desert safari vehicle. A Land Cruiser that has seen jaunts onto the beach or occasional camping is fine, but prolonged offroad usage quickly wears out tyres, suspension parts like springs and shocks and engines, while body panels and undercarriage take quite a beating.

As we said before, the Land Cruiser’s superlative build quality mean that it is sadly quite easy to hide even extensive damage as well as winding back the odometer – so it’s up to you to spot evidence of extensive desert use. Look for sand being in parts of the interior where it shouldn’t be, such as A/C vents or underneath plastic trim pieces. Sand also tends to pool underneath the front bumper, so make sure you check inside the wheel arches. Check the front tyres for even wear on both sides; knocks offroad tend to upset the car’s alignment and can eat through expensive rubber very quickly. Ex-safari cars will have tell tale holes in the interior frame for rollcages; again, avoid!

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

steering racks need to be replaced every 160,000km; budget Dh7,000 for the job!

Land Cruisers are very well built cars, so check that the body panels are straight and line up perfectly with even gaps between them. Minor parking dents and scratches are to be expected but mismatched colours on panels and overspray under door handles is evidence of a major smash. Get under the body and check the undercarriage for signs of rust; anything than more than a superficial could mean this car has spent some time at the beach.

Avoid cars that have been extensively modified. Offroad modifications such as raised suspension or bigger tyres are an obvious no-no; the stock car is more than capable of going nearly anywhere the average person needs to venture. Similarly, make sure that any additions like roof racks or tail spoilers are original equipment and not cheap Satwa copies; otherwise you could end up paying thousands more for a lower spec car that’s been disguised to look like a more expensive one.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

Sand inside the bumper assembly is evidence of serious offroad use

Engines are largely bulletproof if serviced properly. A full service history is a definite bonus but even with petrol station oil and filter changes, these engines can easily last upwards of 400,000 kilometres. Spark plugs need to be changed every 40,000 kilometres for the 4.5 unit, while the more expensive platinum ones in the V8 require replacement every 100,000km, otherwise the car tends to run quite rough. Synthetic oil changes are good value and allow you to run up to 10,000km between services; most roadside stations will charge you less than Dh200 for new oil plus a filter.

Big bills are few and far between with the usual wear and tyre items being brake pads, discs and fluids. One exception is the steering rack; a noted weak point on the 100-series car, it tends to wear out at the 160,000km mark; a new rack costs a hefty Dh7,000, not counting installation. While you are underneath sorting out the rack, check the front CV boots which are made of rubber and perish at about the same time – they’re Dh1500 for a set. The bonnet is quite a heavy piece of steel, so hood gas struts tend to last five years at the most – and at Dh750 per strut, they’re not cheap to replace.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

With careful use, a set of 16-inch tyres (or 17-inch for post 2003 models) should see 60,000km easily – unless you go offroad, in which case you’re unlikely to see more than 30,000km from a set. Prices fluctuate but expect to pay at least Dh800 per corner, with Michelin LTX or Bridgestone Desert Duelers being your preferred replacement. Stay away from the OEM Dunlop Grand Trek vendors push, even though they’re cheap – they have poor traction and emit high levels of road noise.

Make no mistake, despite their ubiquity a Land Cruiser is by no means a cheap car to buy or fuel. But for an SUV that can really go anywhere, it is relatively cheap to run, insure and has epic resale value. Owners have real trouble parting with their cars – and after you drive one, you’ll understand why.

Buying Guide: how to buy a used Toyota Land Cruiser

EXPECT TO PAY

Land Cruisers are among the most expensive secondhand SUVs in this market and even high mileage cars attract premium prices. Your ideal car should have no more than 100,000km on the clock, a full service history and the desirable six-cylinder/automatic combo. The V8 automatic is excellent but thirsty. Privately owned manual-transmission cars that have been sparingly used in the desert are the most sought after Land Cruisers and sell at any price in mere hours.

1999 GXR/VXR – 52,000-59,000
2003 GXR. – 65,000 – 75,000
2005 GXR – 85,000 – 100,000
2007 GXR – 110,000-128,000

[Thanks to Rob Bryan of the Automobile Touring Club UAE  (ATCUAE) for allowing us to photograph his car for this guide]

20 responses to “Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series Buyer’s Guide”

  1. Oliver says:

    Post more of these articles. I love them

  2. Emlyn Williams says:

    I have a 2003 GXR manual that I’ve had since arriving in the UAE seven years ago. I have regular offers for it, especially from locals when they see it is a manual. The reason I won’t sell it is that it would cost me three times what it’s worth to replace it. That’s not to say that someone won’t make me an offer I can’t refuse!
    In my forays into the desert, I have found that little can match it, especially considering how comfortable the journey home is after your fun.

  3. aarif says:

    Hi.
    since you know alot about the car so i just wanted to know that is it good to buy American land cruiser in dubai since i am getting one for 75000 dhs 2011 model. But i am not sure if it’s good for dubai climate.
    I will appreciate if you can help me with it.

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] GCC Land Cruisers are beefed up for our conditions with stronger radiators and more effective air conditioning so if you have a choice, get an UAE car. Having said that, American-spec LX470s have been running around here for years without incident so it should be fine, just don’t expect it to be 100% trouble free.

      75,000 for a 2011 LC is a very low price – too low in my opinion! Be careful that you’re not getting a car without a history of previous serious accidents – as it’s coming from America, you have no way of checking with previous owners. Again, if you have the option buy the GCC car.

  4. Morteza says:

    Great article actually we all love our TOYOTA. Since I live in the US, I would be able to check your car history by giving me the car’s VIN number.
    Best regards,
    Morteza

  5. James Aarav says:

    2011 Toyota Land Cruiser – $16,000

    It is in Excellent condition.

    Price: $16,000
    Mileage: 43,782 miles
    Body Style: SUV
    Exterior Color: Super White
    Fuel:Gasoline
    Engine: 8 Cyl
    Transmission: Automatic
    Drive train: 4RD
    Doors: 4
    Wheelbase: N/A

    The car is in perfect shape.

    jamesaarav@hotmail.com

  6. Saleem says:

    I am thinking to buy a new TOYOTA Land Cruiser GRJ200L-GPANKV and the specs being offered are
    TOYOTA Land Cruiser Full Time 4WD Station Wagon (Lift-up Back Door) 9-Seater, Left Hand Drive,
    V6 24-Valve DOHC with VVT-i Electronic Fuel Injection Petrol Engine 4000 cc., 5-Speed Automatic
    Floorshift Transmission, ABS, Power Steering, Tilt & Telescopic Steering, Power Window, Power Door
    Lock, Power Outer Rear View Mirrors, Third Seat Parallel, Auto Air Conditioner, Heater, Fabric Seats,
    High Mount Stop Lamp, Radio & CD with 6-Speakers, Driver & Front Passenger Air Bag, Automatic
    Day/Night Inner View Mirror, Cigarette Lighter, Smart Entry, Pintle Hook, Fire Extinguisher, Tyre
    Pressure Gauge, Triangle Caution Plate, etc. (Spare Wheel Carrier, Under with Lock).

    This will be my first SUV and I do not fancy going off road. Is 4 litre engine good enough for such a big car? I will appreciate your general comments and how do you compare it with Prado 4.0 litre thanks

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] The 4-Litre engine is perfectly adequate for the Land Cruiser, especially the new upgraded unit, whether you go on or off-road. The only place where you might miss the V8 is at speeds over 120kph when more power is needed to overcome the aerodynamics of a big, heavy SUV. For most people, the V6 is all the engine they’ll ever need.

      The same engine will obviously feel responsive in the much-lighter Prado which comes with many of the same features. Really depends what you need – the Land Cruiser’s larger dimensions mean it’s a more imposing vehicle and has better cargo and interior space, but also means it has slightly poorer fuel economy. If you don’t need seven seats, the Prado is a more practical option.

  7. Tameem says:

    Could you please mention more about g standard Land cruiser because i’m intending to buy 2007 landCruiser G for 60,000QAR

  8. ahmad says:

    i have 2002 landcruiser im facing a problem now adyes that the A/T OIL TEMP is on all the time can some one help me and explain to me what is this light and is it dengeruise
    thanks

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] Sounds like there’s a problem with the oil temperature sensor. Best thing would be to get the car down to a dealer and get it checked ASAP, wouldn’t do long drives until you get it sorted out.

  9. Dada Kalandar says:

    First of all thanks for a wonderful site and the tam behind it sharing views, info etc.

    I have too the similar Car L/C 2002 GXR auto and now I have the Power steering oil leaking underneath which the Garage ask me to replacing with a new whole kit for the pump.

    *Would you recommend to get a pump from a used car or replace the whole kit.

    Secondly I have a problem with the Auto Gear when shifting to third takes more acceleration and then shifts. I have done the Gear job last Jan replacing with a reconditioned gear full set and the delay in shifting started after 6 months.
    When the car is just started and driven there is no issues in shifting but once the car comes to normal temp the gear starts to delay. kindly advice.

  10. Mundinar says:

    I have a Land Cruiser 100 series, the GXR 4500 V 6 automatic.
    I am looking for a manual or explanation of the functions.
    Thank you

  11. Muhamed says:

    I own 2007 Landcruiser GX-R,
    when I operate the Navigator system, It always says ” check NaviOne.exe on SD card.

    Can any help me how to find this file and install it to the system or any other ways to solve this problem.

    Thank you

  12. ahmed says:

    انا نفسى يبقى عندى عربية لند كروزر

  13. Altaf says:

    Dear Sir,

    Excellent site and great review. Its was made me start looking for a LC 80 manual. Couldnt find a decent one so i landed on the next best and found a VXR V8 LC 100 ’99 GCC spec. As luck would have it the owner is selling it because its done 440K Kms. (groan) The car is single owned since bought, and has not been ridden in the desert as its a company owned car driven by an Asian.

    Had it checked thoroughly at Futtaims shop in Mussafah and found the following issues…Steering rack may need change (slight oil leaks – can this be checked with seal kit?
    UCA and LCAs are in ok conditions as can be expected but slight leakage is seen in the left CV boot. Engine and gear seem ok but have noticed a slight leakage in the differential so possibly seal damage as is expected. Here’s the all important Q…Do you think this car is worth 35K? Awaiting your feedback.

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] Altaf: I’m not at all surprised that the steering rack needs to be changed – in LCs they only tend to last about 180,000km. My advice would be to change it – the last thing you want is a complete loss of steering assist!

      The same goes for the differential and boots – after this many kms all the rubber seals will have perished (check the bushings as welL) so they’ll probably need to be replaced.

      As for the price – only you can decide, but 35k seems high for a car with a 440,000km mileage (if that is the real odometer reading and not in fact even higher!) See if you can get him down to sub-30 – who knows how many years the engine has left?

  14. Muhamed says:

    I have 2007 land cruiser GXR, good exterior and interior,
    only last week during very HOT weather, I face a problem.. Yes when I start the car, the rear passenger window opens automatically. I have to bring them up by pressing the switch. the issue continues till now.

    If any one has experience this issue and knows how to fix, please help.
    thank you

  15. nihtin says:

    Hi, what will be the general cost of service for a 2002 model LC?

    Also where can i find the cost effective spares in UAE for 2002 model?

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