Which cruiser…

Joined
Dec 20, 2022
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Brooklyn NY
What’s up everyone. I’ve lurked this forum for a while but this is my first post. I’m living in NYC (by way of Georgia) and am currently driving a 3rd gen sr5 4runner, my second, which I love.

Reason I’m posting is that I’m looking to move into the 4x4 world, specifically Land Cruisers, more specifically imported diesel Land Cruisers. I want to build a touring vehicle that is capable of long highway trips, but that can also get down and dirty on the trails in the middle of nowhere. I plan to take it on at least a couple of overlanding trips if the stars align. To give you an idea, some activities I’d plan on using the truck for are:

NYC > Haines > Deadhorse
NYC > Tuktoyaktuk
Beach camping
Backcountry camping/trails in southern Utah/AZ
NYC > Baja overland

Currently I’m stuck trying to figure out which truck is going to best to suit my needs - I’m torn between Prados (70 and 90 series) and 80 series cruisers. I’m trying to keep the base vehicle cost in the 20k range, and plan to add on touring and backcountry EQ such as winch, tent, etc.

My main concerns here are: fuel efficiency, long-term running cost, reliability, parts availability, and ability to be worked on myself. For a multitude of reasons, I’m pretty hard set on owning a diesel.

I’ve read lots of threads here on the site about the positives on all these different trucks, and I’m sure they all three could get the job done, but I’d love to get the opinions of the more seasoned users here on discerning between which might be best suited for my intended use.

Mods if this is better suited to the diesel tech specific forum please move
 
Joined
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Juneau, AK
Your 4Runner is only 2WD? I had a 2000 4Runner 4x4 for a couple years, only took it on 1 road trip to Haines, Whitehorse, Atlin and back. For a single guy like me it was plenty adequate for the trips you've mentioned. At the time I wasn't aware of the "fail deadly" ball joint issue these trucks have, which was a blessing in disguise. :)

Actually, it isn't necessary to have a 4x4 on the Dempster or Dalton highway unless you're traveling in winter. (Not recommended. :hillbilly: )

Importing a diesel cruiser is big bucks, for sure. I don't know what to recommend. 80 series would have more parts interchangeable in US, but 70 series is clearly the winner with the coolness factor.
 
Joined
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Brooklyn NY
Your 4Runner is only 2WD? I had a 2000 4Runner 4x4 for a couple years, only took it on 1 road trip to Haines, Whitehorse, Atlin and back. For a single guy like me it was plenty adequate for the trips you've mentioned. At the time I wasn't aware of the "fail deadly" ball joint issue these trucks have, which was a blessing in disguise. :)

Actually, it isn't necessary to have a 4x4 on the Dempster or Dalton highway unless you're traveling in winter. (Not recommended. :hillbilly: )

Importing a diesel cruiser is big bucks, for sure. I don't know what to recommend. 80 series would have more parts interchangeable in US, but 70 series is clearly the winner with the coolness factor.

Yep! 2WD and we have honestly pushed it to its limits. Just did a trip earlier this year where we drove from NYC to Big Bend, and then all the way up to Taylor Reservoir in CO. The 2WD 4runner really is good for almost anything, but there are things like the River Road in Big Bend that I’d like 4x4 for.

Looks like this got moved into the importing forum, but I originally put it in the general tech forum. I’m not looking to import one myself, but buy an imported one as there seems to be plenty of options available.
 
Joined
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Telluride
I actively tried to buy a diesel Toyota for two years before l found one l could afford that l liked. Find whats on the market, and make your decisions from there. Numerous folks deal in these things. BAT has reasonably priced options on occasion. Back40 has some for sale. Other folks can mention other shops that have trucks in stock.

I think lockers are what makes em great, but you can add those yourself (but probably wont). A turbo makes the diesel. Shop for a turbo. And pay attention to rust n such things.

Once you find one you are interested in search its model or specific engine and "problems". Some are notorious for cracking heads, or being weak.

A 5spd tripple locked 1HD-FT seems to me the pinacle of greatness.
 
Joined
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Brooklyn NY
I actively tried to buy a diesel Toyota for two years before l found one l could afford that l liked. Find whats on the market, and make your decisions from there. Numerous folks deal in these things. BAT has reasonably priced options on occasion. Back40 has some for sale. Other folks can mention other shops that have trucks in stock.

I think lockers are what makes em great, but you can add those yourself (but probably wont). A turbo makes the diesel. Shop for a turbo. And pay attention to rust n such things.

Once you find one you are interested in search its model or specific engine and "problems". Some are notorious for cracking heads, or being weak.

A 5spd tripple locked 1HD-FT seems to me the pinacle of greatness.

100% get what you're saying. I know I want the turbo and lockers - but all of the options I listed above have at least some variants available with those. I feel like I have a sense of what to look for and how to sus out the truck before buying, but I'm just trying to get a gauge on the advantages of different cruisers w turbos and lockers over others with the same.
 
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Based on your criteria, you'll be looking at an HDJ81. The only turbo-diesel 70-Series available in the US is the BJ74, LJ71/73/78 or KZJ71/73/78. The BJ74 can be found with cable locking differentials front and rear, the LJ and KZJ were only available with a rear electric locker. All the other 70-series were naturally aspirated.

The HDJ80/81 is going to be your best option for a reasonably comfortable, long distance overland rig, but you'll want to get an automatic transmission one for the long highway miles. The manual transmission is cool, but the gear ratios are lower than the automatic counterpart which makes it run higher rpm's on the highway.

I love my LJ78 (after the engine swap), but it is significantly smaller inside than my 81 was, and distinctly less comfortable on the highway (noisier, doesn't handle quite as well). That said, I happily traded the creature comforts of the 81 for the more unique look and driving experience of the 78.
 
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Based on your criteria, you'll be looking at an HDJ81. The only turbo-diesel 70-Series available in the US is the BJ74, LJ71/73/78 or KZJ71/73/78. The BJ74 can be found with cable locking differentials front and rear, the LJ and KZJ were only available with a rear electric locker. All the other 70-series were naturally aspirated.

The HDJ80/81 is going to be your best option for a reasonably comfortable, long distance overland rig, but you'll want to get an automatic transmission one for the long highway miles. The manual transmission is cool, but the gear ratios are lower than the automatic counterpart which makes it run higher rpm's on the highway.

I love my LJ78 (after the engine swap), but it is significantly smaller inside than my 81 was, and distinctly less comfortable on the highway (noisier, doesn't handle quite as well). That said, I happily traded the creature comforts of the 81 for the more unique look and driving experience of the 78.
This is what I was suspecting. I'll admit I'm definitely in love with the 70 series, however it being a smaller truck is definitely something I was worried about (though I was thinking there would be a positive fuel economy trade-off for that). I was really only considering KZ 70's anyways... do you think the 70 would still be considered small/uncomfortable compared to the 4runner though? I've learned to deal with that, and it's not something that concerns me so long as there is room for two to sleep in the back before I get a RTT.

The 80 is seeming like the common sense choice though. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm assuming the HDJ80/81 has vastly more parts availability in the US compared to 70 series, since there was never a 70's variant produced here. The thing about the 70 series that worries me is being SOL with parts and having to spend way more money to keep it up (relative to the 80), especially if I'm having issues in BFE.
 
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The LJ78 (and probably the KZJ78 as well, though I don't have any direct experience with them) will get slightly better fuel economy than an HDJ81 at the expense of some power. However, the KZJ can definitely be made into a reliable highway cruiser. There is plenty of space for a couple of people to camp out of one; I have removed the back seat and slept comfortably on the floor of my first LJ78, and in the current one I built a couple of storage boxes that make a platform across the folded back seat to sleep on if I don't have the RTT on. I enjoy the smaller size of the 70 when wheeling it, and also when driving around town and parking.

Exterior size of a Prado is similar to a 3rd gen 4Runner, but a little bigger. Wheelbase is about 2" longer, width is probably about the same, but the body is much taller providing a lot more interior space.

The HDJ81 will definitely have greater parts availability Stateside, but not significantly in my opinion and I never noticed that it made much difference in the time it took to get parts. Many of the routine maintenance items on the Prado 70's are available due to them being used on other vehicles (brakes, for example, share parts with the 80-series, 2nd and 3rd gen 4Runner, and FJ Cruiser). Cost to maintain is going to be about the same for any of them.
 
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Have you considered an HZJ75/77?

While they don't come factory with turbo's they can be added pretty easily and the aftermarket support is huge.

The BJ74 I owned while fun to drive felt a bit anemic, I can't imagine a Prado being any better honestly. Especially being laden with stuff.

My favorite ones so far have been the 5spd HDJ81/HZJ80 and the HZJ75. 80 series manuals will have the H150 transmission and the highway gearing sucks on those.

75 series has the H55 transmission, highway gearing is significantly better.

75->81->Prado is my 'personal' opinion when it comes to your ideal rig.
 

gilmorneau

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but you'll want to get an automatic transmission one for the long highway miles. The manual transmission is cool, but the gear ratios are lower than the automatic counterpart which makes it run higher rpm's on the highway.
80 series manuals will have the H150 transmission and the highway gearing sucks on those.
Depends on market. While my Euro spec HDJ80 has an H151 transmission, it came with a 3.5-ish final drive ratio axle which keeps the rpm’s reasonable on the highway.
But yes, vehicles with the H151 and 4.1 final drive tend to run higher rpm’s on the highway. Rubber overdrive can help.
 
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I didn't see anywhere on your trip list where a NA spec 80 series would not work perfectly. Or a 100 series.

Or a really any other north american spec SUV/truck.

Preventative maintenance, spare parts, and proper planning is just as important as the vehicle, if not more important.

But now I've heard of Tuktoyaktuk, and want to go there too!
 

doughboy

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Based on your criteria, you'll be looking at an HDJ81. The only turbo-diesel 70-Series available in the US is the BJ74, LJ71/73/78 or KZJ71/73/78. The BJ74 can be found with cable locking differentials front and rear, the LJ and KZJ were only available with a rear electric locker. All the other 70-series were naturally aspirated.

JDM market BJ71's are also turbo diesel. FYI
 
Joined
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Brooklyn NY
I didn't see anywhere on your trip list where a NA spec 80 series would not work perfectly. Or a 100 series.

Or a really any other north american spec SUV/truck.

Preventative maintenance, spare parts, and proper planning is just as important as the vehicle, if not more important.

But now I've heard of Tuktoyaktuk, and want to go there too!
There's plenty of vehicles other than a JDM cruiser that I could do these trips in! But that's beside the point, for me at least
 
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Have you considered an hdj100? (Certain build date) 1998s now legal for the US. That might be a sweet spot if you are okay with IFS and don’t care about the oversized Subaru Forester vibe. It would have the benefit of many North American body parts available, be comfortable for long distance travel, and come with the 1HD-FTE which is an excellent engine with good fuel economy. RHD or LHD not too hard to find.

If you are going long distances you will be happiest with one of the heavy duty cruisers to your taste over a prado IMO.
 

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