We were powering up the Kuranda Range, a steep winding road inland from Cairns in far north Queensland. A bloody great dual-axle trailer complete with a not-so-small tractor hung on the back of the V8 petrol-powered Cruiser.
This article was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s October 2010 issue
“It’s times like these I wish I had a supercharger under the bonnet,” Warwick explained. “In fact, my 76 Series turbo V8 tows this rig better.” I was a little surprised by that, but the 4.5-litre petrol engine, while similar in power output (202kW for the petrol compared to 195kW for the oiler) only develops 410Nm of torque compared to the V8 oiler’s impressive 650Nm. Yep, that made a lot of sense.
Still, we were cruising pretty effortlessly and quietly, with hardly any noise impinging on the quiet ambience of the cabin. And while there isn’t a blower under the hood, this Cruiser answers a lot of questions when you want to improve on what is a pretty good package straight out of the box – in either petrol or diesel form.
As TJM’s northern Australia manager, Warwick Grimwade does a lot of miles between his home base in Cairns and Mt Isa, Darwin and up to the top of Cape York. Places that most four wheelers are lucky to get to once in their life are Warwick’s home – and work – turf. His truck needs to fill many niches: show pony at 4X4 shows or when it is parked outside TJM Cairns; a strong, reliable, comfortable cruising wagon when on the long runs across the Gulf or up to the Cape; and a tough, no-nonsense workhorse when hauling heavy loads up the range to his Tablelands farm, as we were now.
Wish lists aside, the only mod done to the engine is a three-inch mandrel-bent exhaust to help the exhaust gas flow a little quicker. At the other end of the combustion cycle, an Airtec snorkel helps feed clean air to the engine.
A Long Range Automotive (LRA) 170-litre long-range fuel tank has also been fitted. LRA has a couple of models for the 200 Series. This particular 170-litre unit uses the standard filler and requires no modification to the exhaust system. This tank combines with the 95-litre factory tank to give a total of 265 litres.
4x4 Buyers' Guide: Long range fuel tanks
A T13 steel bullbar and side airbag-compatible side-rails help protect the vehicle and its inhabitants from animal strike – a common experience in western and far-north Queensland.
An Ox electric winch is tucked into the bullbar and while you could opt for any of the Ox winches up to a mammoth 12,000lb unit, the 9500 is the most popular. Weighing in at less than 40kg, this winch is powered by a 4kW series-wound motor and drives through a three-stage planetary gear set. The Cruiser has a TJM Red Centre battery management system to ensure the batteries are kept ready for any eventuality.
Watch: 12V winch comparison review
A pair of Britax Xray Vision 220 HID driving lights also grace the bar, one a pencil beam, the other a wider spread beam. With a die-cast alloy housing and stainless-steel fittings, they seem to be handling all the corrugations and rough roads Warwick meats out to them.
Up top is a full-length alloy roof rack with wind deflector and mesh floor, with a Foxwing awning mounted on the side. Designed by Oztent Australia in collaboration with Rhino Rack, these awnings are a unique design that will fold out quickly and easily to shade both the side and rear of your vehicle.
If they have any drawback it is the real need to tie them down properly, even for just a short break – a gust of wind can easily flip the awning over and break a bracket or two. Warwick knows!
Down the back end, a Kaymar bar carries a pair of spares, while inside there’s a Black Widow drawer system along with a cargo barrier to protect occupants from any flying objects in case of a sudden, catastrophic stop.
A remote-microphone GME TX3440 UHF radio lurks behind the dash with only the mike visible. We’ve used these radios in the recent past and, with their long list of hi-tech features and performance, they’re bloody good units.
In the quieter ambience of the Cruiser cab (compared to the mud-tyred vehicle I tested the 3440 in) the volume from the speaker was adequate, even without a remote speaker. Still, it would be something I’d probably opt for.
Each of the front seat headrests has a built-in Option Audio (optionaudio.com.au) DVD player so both backseat passengers can watch their choice of DVD at the same time. I can almost hear parents rejoicing everywhere! Each unit has a seven-inch screen, built-in IR and FM transmitters, wireless headsets and optional inputs from SD cards or via a USB port. These replacement headrests are simple to install and easy to use.
The seat covers were ones I hadn’t seen before and were made from neoprene that any diver or surfer would be familiar with. These new, Aussie-made waterproof covers are called the Wet Seat and are available through TJM stores. They are even side-airbag friendly.
Importantly, they are made from 2.4mm neoprene, are abrasion resistant, chemical resistant, simple to fit and comfortable. They are available in a couple of colours and styles and are basically a universal fit for bucket seats that have a removable headrest. Lycra headrests are supplied as standard, although you can get tailor-made neoprene ones as well.
Helping keep things a little tidier in the cab is a set of Sand Grabber floor mats, a pretty essential item, I reckon, when you work and play on Cape York.
Tyres are 285/70R17 Mickey Thompson Baja ATZs, a darn sight better in all ways than what comes standard on the Cruiser I reckon, including load carrying – important when hauling heavy trailers.
This day jaunt was the first time I’d ever driven on the ATZ four-rib design for any length of time. In comparison to the ATZ five-rib, this has a more open tread pattern, making it more of a mud-type tyre than its close cousin.
As well, the compound used to make the four-rib is more attuned to resist chipping on gravel roads, so this tyre is really meant more for off-road work than the ATZ five-rib, but is not as aggressive as the Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ. The price is pretty similar for both ATZ tyres so the choice should be made on what sort of driving you tend to do.
Hauling such heavy loads, Warwick has opted for DBA slotted and ventilated discs all-round to improve braking performance. But it is the suspension that has come in for some special treatment, given the range of jobs it has to do.
Brake upgrade guide: Bendix brake pads with DBA disc brakes
Of the choice of three replacement springs TJM has on offer, this Cruiser wears the heaviest coils it has got. At the back end there is a set of Polyair bags to assist the springs. These are excellent for varying loads.
XGS Gold edition shocks and struts feature on the back and front respectively. These are TJM’s premium shock absorbers and feature German-quality Teflon bushes, seals and valving, a 36mm high-flow piston, a tough, hard-to-bend 18mm hard-chromed shaft, high-grade damper oil, a 2.5mm outer tube wall and a host of other features. The struts on the front also have a multi-adjustable spring seat, for the optimum set-up.
After we dropped the heavily loaded trailer at the farm we went in search of a few dirt roads and some more challenging stuff. We didn’t find any mud but the tyres did their job well on gravel roads and corrugated tracks as well as in soft sand.
On sand, they bagged well and while they are mainly a two-ply tyre (some sizes are three-ply) they have thicker plies than many other makes, so will resist punctures just that little bit better. The compound resists gravel chips, too.
Only built, not bought on Custom 4x4 reviews
The XGS shocks gave the Cruiser a comfortable, compliant ride that I found soaked up the bumps and corrugations no matter what the conditions while keeping body roll in check when pushing hard on the blacktop. And they were far from new, having been pounded up and down the Cape York road already on a couple of occasions.
In all, this 200 Series LandCruiser has been improved out of sight from the original. It is an absolute delight to drive and ride in but if there is anything I’d do, I’d change the paint job. And maybe opt for a blower!
New Cruiser Bar
The LandCruiser now sports a new bullbar, TJM’s latest T13 steel Outback bar, which is suitable for any 200 Series. This unit is a much smarter looking bar than the previous T13 bar, and looks a million dollars with its good looks and colour-coding. The new bar is airbag compatible and ADR compliant, has integrated fog lights and indicator lenses, reinforced T-slot hi-lift jack points (a bloody good idea) and can accommodate a wide range of low-mount winches. Importantly, for those of us who like a big set of driving lights, the latest T13 bar can handle lights up to the size of the large Britax Xray Visions, which are 220mm in diameter.
With a large workshop and a great accessory display area, TJM Cairns has everything you require when you are in north Queensland, heading for the Cape or the Gulf. The store has been around for just over 25 years and was started by Rod Spinks and his working partner. In the early 90s, Rod started expanding into Townsville and then in 1996 started TJM Mt Isa. In 2003 he brought out TJM Darwin and, in 2008, TJM Mackay. TJM Cairns services a big area, from Cardwell north into the Torres Straits and west to the Gulf. Phone (07) 4047 8900.
2008 Toyota 200 Series petrol V8 LandCruiser
Owner: TJM Cairns
Engine: 2UZ-FE 4664cc DOHC V8
Power: 202kW at 5400rpm
Torque: 410Nm at 3400rpm
Transmission: A750F Five-speed automatic
List of modifications
Engine: Beaudesert exhaust
Suspension (front): IFS with TJM XGS Gold Series coil springs and multi-adjustable spring seat strut combinations
Suspension (rear): Live axle, four-link trailing arm with TJM XGS Gold Series coil springs and shock absorbers and Polyair bags
Wheels & Tyres: Standard Cruiser wheels with Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ tyres 285/70R17
Exterior modifications: TJM T13 steel Outback bullbar; side-steps; OX 9500 winch; LRA 170-litre fuel tank; Britax 220 HID driving lights; TJM full-length roof rack; Foxwing awning; Kaymar dual swingaway spare wheel carrier and rear step/tow bar; DBA slotted disc brakes; Airtec snorkel
Interior modifications: Black Widow drawer storage system and cargo barrier; GME TX3440 UHF radio; Option Audio DVD players for rear-seat passengers; Wet Seat seat covers; Sand Grabber floor mats