Jeep Gladiator & Toyota Land Cruiser LC79

Rough and tough

I took South Africa’s most talked about bakkies off the beaten track. The hyper-cool Jeep Gladiator and the legendary Land Cruiser LC79. Which one would you choose?

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How can you compare those two cars, you might ask? Well, they are both iconic legends, coming from a long heritage. And they are rough, tough and loud. The Jeep is in fact the Adam of all 4x4s. Built since 1941, first as a military vehicle, the Willys MB, which significantly helped win WWII for the allies. It was followed in 1946 by the first Civilian Jeep ever, the CJ2A. The very first Land Cruiser borrowed heavily from the granddaddy of all off-roaders, when it was introduced in 1951, first as the BJ, from 1954 as the Land Cruiser.

Both vehicles are double-cab bakkies and feature big engines. And both are head-turners with enormous street (and dirt road) cred. One of the reasons, why there are already waiting lists for both pick-ups.

While the LC79 is making khaki-short-clad farmers weak in their sun-exposed knees, the Gladiator gets guys with gold chains around their necks teary-eyed, so they have to flex their tattooed biceps even more in their sleeveless T-Shirts.

Let’s have a closer look the dream bakkies. Toyota first. The 70-series Land Cruiser is long dead in Germany. Strict emission rules killed it years ago. Luckily we still get the hard-core off-roader new in South Africa – and in a special version. Driving the Toyota LC79 4.5D V8 70th anniversary edition is a trip back into time, way back into time. To a non-digital, social-media and push-button-free world, with mechanical haptic values. It’s like being in a restored classic. And that’s always one of the first questions asked, when you stop: ‘How old is your bakkie?’

Jeep Gladiator

ENGINE

3.6-l. V6 petrol, paired with an 8-speed auto

POWER

209kW & 347Nm

TOP SPEED

170km/h

Toyota Land Cruiser LC70

ENGINE

4.5-l. V8 diesel, paired with a 5-speed manual

POWER

151kW & 430Nm

TOP SPEED

160km/h

While the LC300 is hip-hop, the less tech and less sophistication LC79 is heavy metal. It oozes rock-solid indestructibility and adventure. With everything you need: front & rear diff locks, low range gears, snorkel and massive front bumper, that can easily accommodate a winch. The only driver assist program is ABS. But despite the bovine-friendly, agricultural approach you can find a smartphone-sized touch screen in the dash.

The Gladiator is much different in this regard. Despite the old school rugged looks it is very digital, with all kinds of USB ports and push buttons for everything. And even Driver assist programs, with electronic warning systems, such as blind-spot\ assist, rear cross traffic assist (quite helpful when you consider the Gladiator is 20cm longer than the Wrangler) and a sharp reverse-view camera.

When you live by the motto ‘reason is boring’, you are in the right target group for this absolute fun car. Jeep finally brought their iconic truck back to market, almost three decades after the last Gladiator. And South Africa is getting it in only one configuration, with the 3.6-l. V6 petrol engine and in the fully equipped, top-of-the-range Rubicon version, with all the off-road features: Dana 44 axles, rear & front diff locks, low-range gears and sway bar disconnect. All initiated by, yes, push buttons.

The Gladiator is South Africa’s only convertible bakkie (all four doors can be taken of) and the only car with a fold-down windshield in the market. But your valuables are still safe, despite being totally topless. There are lockable storage spaces under the seats in the rear. And if you should get stuck and you are in a Wifi area, you can take out the portable weather- and dustproof blue tooth speaker, behind the rear seat, which automatically charges during driving. And can also be used to charge your electronic devices.

I spent a week each with the two bakkies and took them both to my favourite off-road track in the Cape: Gear up 4x4. As you can imagine they are both incredibly capable off road, only restricted by their long wheelbase. So sometimes you need a bit of forward momentum to get you through the obstacles. And don’t worry the underbellies are very well protected by numerous solid steel plates and rock rails.

So which one would I choose. Well, I am definitely not a farmer…

TECH SPECS

Jeep Gladiator

Engine

3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK

Engine

3.6-l. V6 petrol, paired with an 8-speed auto

Power

209kW & 347Nm

Top Speed

170km/h

0-100km/h

9.2 seconds

Ground Clearance

250mm

Wading depth

800mm

Wheelbase

3488mm

Price

from R1 259 900

TECH SPECS

Toyota Land Cruiser LC70

Engine

3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK

Engine

4.5-l. V8 diesel, paired with a 5-speed manual

Power

151kW & 430Nm

Top Speed

160km/h

Ground Clearance

235mm

Wading depth

700mm

Wheelbase

3180mm

Price

from R981100

WATCH OUR COOL JEEP GLADIATOR VIDEO HERE

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