Tanzania’s favourite rugged safari vehicle gets new facelift after nearly two decades and has become boxier.
Toyota has made some serious cosmetic changes to its rugged off-road vehicle, the Land-cruiser Series 70 which may roll out into these shores sometime in 2024.
The Series 70 Land-Cruiser has always been the de facto vehicle for the off-road tourism activities in East Africa, especially Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
They can always be seen mingling with wildlife, trees and rocks in National Parks, Game Reserves and other Conservation Areas.
They are also the vehicles of choice for Non-Government Organizations, Relief workers and Miners.
And if the truth is to be said, rebel and terrorist groups in North Africa and Middleast also swear by the J70 Cruisers.
But back in East Africa, the Land-cruiser J70 series have remained part and parcel of Safari manifests and itineraries since the days of the vehicles’ prototype ancestors, the J40 Series.
The cruisers used for Safari trips in Kenya and Tanzania sometimes look different from the original vehicles imported from Japan and other Toyota assembly plants elsewhere.
This is because once here, they usually undergo serious panel fabrication normally done by local vehicle body manufacturers such as the Hanspaul Industries of Arusha and Rajinder Motors of Moshi, in Kilimanjaro and others.
The 70-series have always featured a tough and rigid outer shell, no wonder it has been easy for body fabricators here to tamper with its body panels as they extend the passenger cabin to take up to nine people with their luggage and gear.
Toyota has been updating the Land-cruiser 70 outlook from time to time, but not frequently, in fact the last major upgrade occurred back in 2007.
Now 16 years later, the Cruiser 70 is experiencing the latest refresh of its body-on-frame drivetrain.
It may look slightly different outside, especially the grille and headlights but underneath, the cruiser is still the same design that first rolled out of the factory in 1984.
Being boxy, it means the body retains its tougher shell.
Some other changes on the new model include round headlights, boxy design and when compared to the 2007 model, the latest incarnation looks tougher and more functional.
This time the badge on front radiator grille features the entire TOYOTA literature. Gone is the company’s usual round logo.
The utilitarian facelift complete with the round LED headlights means the car is ready for those off-road journeys along the Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater, Amboseli and the Selous Game Reserve.
There are a few design changes in the interior which now features some modern Toyota parts bin items and an infotainment screen riveted on the dashboard.
But the inside cabin retains the usual functional appearance with leathery cushioning.
As usual the series 70 comes in three different body types, the classic trooper, wagon and pickup.