Toyota GXL Workmate Among the Last of the Great Diesel 4x4s?

Digital transformation in the auto industry

Mon 20 May 24


Tears are welling in the eyes of Aussie diesel diehards as their fuel of choice for 4x4s takes a U-turn.

It seems the end of diesel is nigh with few manufacturers game enough to launch an all-new diesel powertrain in the years ahead.

A Samurai sword hovers over this most popular fuel source. Toyota, the world’s largest automobile manufacturer, produces about 10 million vehicles a year, but it says its portfolio needs to change. This begs the question: what will power the new Toyota Hilux due in 2025?

Consider the all-new LandCruiser Prado, due in Australia this year. Like the HiLux, its predecessor will be diesel-only, offered with the ute’s 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine.

Nevertheless, Toyota Australia confirms that the off-road-focused SUV will also have a petrol-hybrid powertrain, phasing out the diesel as the demand for hybrids grows.

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The transformation in the automotive industry will turn out to be more comprehensive than it was thought. The fields of mobility services and connected services will have a huge influence on future business – alongside electric mobility and automated driving. (Photo Credit: Auto Tech Review)

If we’re talking about carbon emissions, fuel efficiency, noise pollution and air quality, then EVs are clearly the winner. If, however, we are talking about torque or initial price, then diesel-engine cars bolt home in the final race. And consider this … even though diesel cars are major polluters, many components of EVs can be very bad for human health and the environment with the highly reactive lithium used in batteries posing safety risks such as overheating, fires and explosions.

So, to the cream of Toyota’s latest diesel, the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser LC79 GXL Workmate, the all-wheel drive double cab we took up to skilled wood artisan John Muller’s ‘hobby factory’ in the Blackall Ranges above the Sunshine Coast.

A tough off-roader, the 4×4 cab chassis with four doors and five seats is powered by a 4.5L diesel turbo V8 engine that pushes out151 kW of power (at 3400 rpm) and 430 Nm of torque (at 1200 rpm).

Toyota claims the GXL uses 10.7L/100km of diesel in the combined city and highway cycle while putting out 281g of CO2.

Available only with five-speed manual transmission, the GXL is listed at $69,240 plus the tray of your choice, either with horizontal under-tray spare tyre storage or vertical headboard.

The GXL specification is the closest you’ll get to luxury in this brand. Compared to the mid-level GX the L in GXL costs an extra $2000 and adds 16 x17 in. alloy wheels, chrome and painted front bumper, aluminium side-steps, chrome radiator grille, chrome roof drip rails, cloth seats and door trim, floor carpet and driver/front passenger map pockets.

Despite revisions over the decades, the LC79 remains as basic and rugged as ever, s still only available with a manual gearbox and floor-mounted mechanical shifter. Door mirrors are still mounted on single hoops of bent steel, the steering is still the rugged old-school recirculating ball-type rather than rack and pinion, and there’s still a rigid front axle rather than a fancy independent set-up and the massive ladder-frame chassis with 3180 mm wheelbase.

Include four-wheel disc brakes, beefed-up coil springs at the front and robust semi-elliptic leaf springs at the back which make one-tonne payloads a breeze.

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Toyota’s Lexus LF-ZC…among the next generation of AI electric vehicles bringing software-defined capabilities to the auto industry. (Photo Credit: Yuki Nakao)

The LC79, like all ‘70 series’ Land Cruisers, is a tough off-roader with a part-time, dual-range 4×4 transmission, combined with Toyota’s A-TRAC active traction control, automatic-locking front hubs and front and rear diff locks.

Kerb weight without tray is 2175 kg and 3400 kg GVM leaves a sizeable 1225 kg payload rating.

The GXL comes standard with 265/70 R16 front tyres and 265/70 R16 rear tyres. It requires a service every six months or 10,000 km, whichever comes first.

All ‘70 series’ grades share the same basic two-speaker radio/CD unit with Bluetooth, AUX-USB inputs and electric telescopic aerial mounted on the front guard.

Meanwhile, in global news, Toyota, Nissan and Honda along with other major Japanese automakers are working to develop software for next-generation vehicles, bringing together their expertise in such areas as generative AI and semi-conductors.

Nikkei news agency says a strategy will soon be announced for digital transformation in the auto industry. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will call for cooperation among automakers as a roadmap for next-generation automobile development through the 2030s.

The automakers will sign up to kick off the collaboration in hopes of lowering development costs in a fiercely competitive digitisation race. 

The strategy focuses on software-defined vehicles (SDV), a concept in which vehicle functionality is improved through software rather than hardware like engines and parts.

For example, a car without self-driving technology could be given that function with a software update. Some technical issues could be fixed with an update as well, similar to smartphones.

Some electric vehicles already on the market from Tesla and Chinese leader BYD have these capabilities. As semi-conductor technology and artificial intelligence evolve, how automakers respond to software trends will have a major impact on their global competitiveness.


  • Orson Whiels

    Orson Whiels has been a motoring writer for many years and was motoring writer at Queensland Country life in the 1960s-70s and then motoring editor at Australian Timberman.)


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