Land Cruiser converts, please weigh in on your post-conversion thoughts

#1
So I stumbled into this forum this morning, and by this afternoon you all have me considering giving up my Cruisers, the lot of them, and buying a G-wagen :Wow1:

I'm currently in the prep phase of revamping my 80 to correct the various major and minor issues I have with it. The major issues are power and overall interior comfort(for a tall person), the minor issues are numerous but not too serious.

I had been considering upgrading to a 100-series, but my dad has one and I find it to be less than exhilirating. While the issue of power was corrected from the 80-series, the issue of interior comfort was only mildly improved in my opinion.

In the G-wagen's column Mercedes seems to have gotten these things right while maintaining a solid front axle, lockers, and all of the other utilitarian aspects of the 80 that I love.

My fear with a G-wagen is the fact that it's a Mercedes. My mom's '02 E320 has suffered from constant electric problems and other random issues. It has done less than 100k miles and the cats have been replaced twice and the rear tail light harness 4 times under warranty. Now I know the pedigree of the G-wagen and perhaps its military background resulted in more robust systems all around, but that's what I want to know.

I've read about the various repeat issues with the G-wagen like the window regulators and the center driveshaft. If those are the extents of the common problems where they are a "once and done" or simply require routine maintenance, I can live with that. What I don't want to be plagued by are constant nuisance issues.

So for those that have come over to G-wagens from the Toyota/Crusier world, do you have any regrets, advice, or words of wisdom?
 
#2
I've had both, and still drive my original LC 100 today (among others). G-Wagens are great vehicles but I believe they have their niche. I would jump into my 273k mile 100 tomorrow and drive to Alaska. Not a second thought. I would never have done that with the G-Wagen. If something breaks or wears out in the Yukon, I could get it fixed on the 100. Probably not the G-Wagen. The ride comfort for my 6'2", 200 lb frame is perfect in the 100. The G-Wagen was never comfortable for me. Seats are good but the vehicle leaned in corners, wandered all over the road at highway speeds, lots of wind noise, etc. You couldn't relax. I also much prefer a split tailgate for traveling over that huge rear door on the G. Nothing broke on my G-Wagen but toward the end of its time with me it started to feel it's age. Hard to describe - it just drove like an old car. That being said, closing the doors felt and sounded like closing a bank vault. Everything like that felt solid in that old school Mercedes Benz way.

My 100 has been bullet proof since day 1 - only maintenance in all these miles. 100% reliable. While it never has had that solid feeling of the Benz (the doors are certainly not of the caliber on the Benz), it drives at highway speeds much better. Again - this is THE vehicle IMHO for long trips. The 3rd row seat comes in useful at least once a week. Everything in the interior wears like iron. I don't even have a split leather seat yet.

A stock G-Wagen may be better offroad, although with my center and rear locking diffs on the 100 I have never had an issue. I do not use it for rock crawling, though.

Just my opinion - I'm sure others have the opposite view. Either way, I'm sure you will be happy.
 

zimm

Expedition Leader
#3
i have both, the 470lx is a better cruiser on road, and a better truck offroad. cheaper to fix, etc. iv posted quite a few times on this, do a search and you'll see my opinions.

as far as the solid front is concerned, unless you plan on a 4" lift, it buys you nothing in comparison to a stock 100. for a solid axle truck, the articulation of a G is horrendous. to top it off, they sport tune an already unflexy 70's design.

you can put 33's on a 100 w/o a lift, and 35's with a couple inches. on a G you'll need 2" for 33's or youll get rubbing, 35's require significan suspention redesign, and the axle bearing will wear out every 30'000 miles. i run 33's, and i can feel the 2" lift in the castor. a tad twichy on turn in.

the only thing wrong with a 100, is its boring. boring boring.... boring. but its better.

for some the cool look is enough, and, as its all in good fun, it doesnt need to be anything more. the G is capable. but 99% of those users make all kinda superiority noise, and arnt man enough to admit its a pure ego/image thing, and thats the funny part.

get one of each and sell the one you dont like.

or, if youre really into capability, get a rubicon. off the rack, it'll eat the lunch of both of these.
 
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#5
I found myself in the same boat and I'm still looking for a G Wagon. We're still keeping the Toyota because it's dead reliable, but I'm definitely not buying the G for it's comfort or ergonomics. You need to take a test drive and sit in one for a while to get a good feel for it because it's completely different from a cruiser.
 
#6
I have both as well

Like others I have both. My impressions are the LC has much better after market support. There is no repair/modification you can't do after a quick search on MUD. I also feel the 80 series is better offroad than the G. My experience is mostly limited to sand and I typically don't even lock in the LC when driving across the sand. In the G, I can feel it struggling to not sink in. Not a really fair comparison as the G still has the Geolanders.

My 80 series has been relegated to the Beach/Camping /lumber yard truck as does them all well. The G is my drive to the office/out to dinner vehicle with an occational foray onto the sand or dirt service road.

My LC was my 5th one (60, 40, 62, 55 and now 80). I was looking for something different to drive after pretty much settling on the 100 series as my next vehicle. The G has more wow factor. The parts seem more expensive. No paper FSM that I have been able to find. It does not fit in alot of parking garages. Good thing they valet park it out front of the restaruants etc. The biggest appeal for me is stepping on the skinny pedal. In the LC I am downshifting to get up a slight incline. In the G step down smartly and it will put a smile on your face. It is just fun to drive. It feels more nimble than the LC, the seating position is more upright.

In the end it is whatever floats your boat. I would not hesitate for a minute to take my LC to Moab. Last trip down there I was jonesn for the G just to see what it would do but in the end I am too much a wimp to risk the body damage dropping off the ledges. So in the event of a zombie apocolypse while I am at the office one day I have a 4x4 G to get me home. Other than that it is probably over kill for what I need as a daily driver. But I have wanted one for 20 some years since making my wife drive me by Europa to look at them on a trip through Santa Fe. Finally had the chance to pull the trigger on one so I did. No regrets. The ego/image thing Zimm speaks of...
 
#7
For a solid axle truck, the articulation of a G is horrendous.
+1

on a G you'll need 2" for 33's or youll get rubbing, 35's require significan suspention redesign, and the axle bearing will wear out every 30'000 miles. i run 33's, and i can feel the 2" lift in the castor. a tad twichy on turn in.
Been running 35" tires on my G with a simple 30mm spring spacer lift coming up on 40k on the odo with very frequent off-highway driving and no problems. Minor rubbing in the wheel wells on extreme articulation (for a G, anyway) and on hard right turns. Never noticed any twitchy-ness when I "embiggened" the tires or put on the lift. Tracks true, and for a refrigerator going down the highway, no different than driving previous Land Rovers I've owned (except for the G's ample power).

or, if youre really into capability, get a rubicon. off the rack, it'll eat the lunch of both of these.
Somewhere a couple years back Jeep decided to listen to it's customers and build vehicles that will do (and be easily modified to do) what their owners want. The only problem with them is you might get into someone else's Jeep by accident because they're everywhere. But, easy to fit 35s and bigger, loads of aftermarket parts to choose from, and lots of repair parts easily available? Yep.
 
#9
I have owned a pair of 1996 LX450's and a 2003 G500. As much as I love Toyota's I have a hard time seeing what others are seeing.


From my experience here is was I have noticed.

Engine: Advantage G500, this is not even close. It is silky smooth, powerful and get between 13-17mpg but I have seen up to 20 mpg a few times on long trips on the freeway. The V8 in the G-class is also much more reliable than the I-6 in the Toyota. The Toyota never got better than 14mpg and head gaskets were a problem on both vehicles I owned. You only have to change the oil every 10-15K miles on the G500 which I love. A sensor detects how many particulates are in the oil.

Transmission: Advantage G500, again this is not even close. The Toyota has a decent transmission but the ZF unit in the Mercedes makes it look like a piece of crap. The 4 speed unit found in the Toyota shifts rough and hunts for gears but this maybe more of a result of the engine lacking power to maintain speed on hills. The unit found in the G500 is amazing. It shifts very smooth, it never hunts for gears, and it downshifts properly to reduce wear on the brakes. It also has a manual shift mode that is very useful and easy to use. It is my favorite automatic transmission ever. I even like it more than the Allison. The unit found in the Mercedes is also a stronger and more reliable unit.

Transfecase: Tie: Both are solid and reliable units. They are very different and each has its advantage, but it is hard to say one is better than the other. It all a matter of preference. The unit found in the cruiser is a married unit but hangs low compared to the G-wagon. The unit found in the G500 is a divorced unit but it is tucked away nicely between the frame rails. The G500 has been known to have issues with the electronic actuator that engages to the transfer case but it is an easy fix. It's a 20 minutes and 3 bolt job to replace the actuator. It's not like it's a PHH.

Suspension: Advantage Toyota. As stated by others the G500 does not have as much flex as other solid axle vehicles but I think this is grossly over exaggerated. I spent all of last week riding trails in Moab last week in a Stock G500 and I did not have any issues. I only lifted a tire 3 times all week and I am certain my LX450 would have been doing the 3 tire salute on the same obstacles. I did Fins and Things, Hells Revenge including tip over challenge, Tower Arch and Poison Spider Mesa. I had a great time but never once did I wish I had more flex. The lack of flex is actually nice because the chassis never creaks or squeaks. Flex is overrated and how important is it when you have lockers? Personally it is no where near as approach and departure angles.

Axles: Advantage G500; Both have lockers and are great axles but this all come down to maintenance. While the design is very similar, Mercedes did a much better job executing it. The front axle in the Mercedes will go 4-5 times longer between rebuilds.

Frame: Advantage G500: The frame on the G500 looks like it belongs under a 1 ton truck.

Four wheel Drive system: Advantage G500, The advantage goes to the G500 for several reasons. In stock form the center and rear lockers can be engaged in 4wd HI. Toyota requires a mod for this. You can also turn off the traction control/esp on the Mercedes. Traction control is nice to have, but it is also nice to be able to turn it off.

Approach and Departure: Advantage G500, even in stock form it has great approach and departure angles. My 1996 LX450 with 3" OME lift still found a way to drag it's but on every rock.

Aftermarket support: Advantage FJ80, For the most part you can get anything you want for both vehicles but you will have more choices with the Land Cruiser.

Cargo capacity: Tie, They feel about the same to me.

Driver and passenger comfort: Advantage G500, Yet again this one is not even close. I am 6"8" 330lbs and the G500 has plenty of room to spare. My wife is 6' 1" and she found the Landcruiser to be a little cramped. I can sit comfortably in the second row even though I am a big guy. I can wear my cowboy hat in the car, I love it. I love that it has front and rear heated leather. I love that it has cup holders. I have installed the rear horizontal seats and now it seat 9 passengers very nicely. The rear seats will easily hold 4 six footers and kids love them.

Steering: Advantage Toyota, the steering on the G500 feels heavy but you get used to it.

Dealer Support: Mercedes, I know this may sound crazy but Mercedes has much better global coverage. Toyota has better support here in the states. I had my Mercedes in the dealer to get the AC recharged and an oil change and they gave me a free rental car for 5 days. It took 5 days because it was over a holiday weekend. I had to pay $14 for gas but I drove that 2013 C-class over 600 miles. I also love the fact they hand wash my car every time I even get an oil change.

Forum Support: Advantage Toyota, This one is not even close. IH8hud is great support site for enthusiasts. I have noticed that the G500 owners are much more civilized and respectful but there are some great Toyota guys out there. Major props to all who are in it to help others.

Other things to consider, they are both very reasonable to insure. My 2003 Mercedes costs the same to insure as my 2000 Montero. The Mercedes take premium fuel but I have run regular at the recommendation of other G500 enthusiasts and it seems to run great on regular fuel. I am not sure it matters if you run premium in the G500. On the G55 it probably matters because it has a supercharger. The repairs on the Mercedes are pricey, but most repair can be done at home with a little know how.



I know I probably missed something, but I did my best. From my observations the G500 is better than the FZJ80/LX450 in almost every way. The shear power makes it a better daily driver. Those who say the Toy is better have never owned a G-class. Both are great vehicles but the build quality is so obvious it like comparing a Chevy S10 to a Toyota Tacoma. Last fall I had my old man drive it on some trails in Moab and he could not believe how much more solid and competent the G500 was when compared to my Locked and lifted 1996 LX450. His main observation was the G500 felt much more nimble, it had more power but never slipped a wheel and never even creaked while off road. The LX450 still got the job done but it was nowhere near as graceful. It was always spinning tires and looking for traction. A buddy of mine (MOT) from Mud struggled to get his diesel powered FJ80 into the same locations my G500 went in stock for with out slipping a wheel or rubbing once. He seemed to find a lot of rock with the rear of his rig. As far as the electrical issues with window regulators it seems to be a common problem, but they can be replaced by a competent do it yourselfer. The center drive shaft seems to be a maintenance thing. If proper maintenance is taken it seems to last a long time. How ever you dice it it is alot cheaper than rebuilding the front axle on an land cruiser every 80K miles.

While I compared the G500 and LX450 above, here are some reviews of both the FZJ100 and the G500. These guys are fantastic with reviews and they love their cruisers but they openly admit the Mercedes is a better off-roader.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1NdM1snEbE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqmK81ZBLvI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3fp8mDh5JU&feature=endscreen&NR=1
 
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#10
I have owned a pair of 1996 LX450's and a 2003 G500. As much as I love Toyota's I have a hard time seeing what others are seeing.
Nice write-up! My comparison from the G to Land Rovers (instead of LCs) would be very similar (omitting the obvious fluid-leaking LR remarks). I may mock the G's articulation, and I do know when it's occurring, but it's never been a cause for concern once you know how it drives. I do love all of its other characteristics - headroom, cabin space, power, acceleration, seating, locker function, etc. The only area I regularly run into trouble with is break-over angle...
 
#12
Great question and great answers. I love my RHD BJ42 in which I totally restored back to new condition and has been my DD for last 3 years and no issues thus far at all, but just recently I purchased a LWB 85' 280GE and OMG it is night and day difference in comfort but then again not comparing apples to apples here being one has leafs on all four corners and the other coils on all four and one is LWB and the other SWB. I can say that the G is so stout from the factory especially the frame and the diff locks are an added benefit. If I was to do all over again knowing what I know now I would have gone the G route versus my BJ42. But I guess I am getting too comfortable with the extra room and comfort versus what I was lacking in my SWB rig. That all being said I will be doing a frame off on the G one day and have been purchasing tons of parts already to include a 300TD to swap in and I don't find the prices any more than cruiser parts from vendors. I have never driven a LWB cruiser like an 80 so I can't really compare.

Just My opinion
Rob
 
#13
A few other things I took into account when I decided to purchase a G500 over a LX450/Land Cruiser. If I was to outfit both with 35" tires and relocate that rear tire on the LX450, how much would I spend? Both are going to do a great job maintaining there value at this point.


G500:

Spacer Lift 30mm $300
Labor $100
Tires $1000
Total= $1400


LX450:

4" Slee Lift and labor $4000 (other options are available, I just used this one because it is the most common and Christo is very reputable dealer)
Regear and Labor $1200
Rear bumper with tire carrier and labor $2500
Tires $1000
Total $8700


As you can see it all adds up really fast but you would have one killer Landcruiser when its all setup.


With that left over $7300 you could get all thes goodies for a G500.

Hutchison Beedlocks $1500
Baja Roof Rack $900
Rear Ladder $525
Sliders $650
Steel Rear Bumper $2000
Front winch bumper $1300
Bilstien Shocks $500



At the end of the day you can build up a Toyota Land Cruiser to be what ever you want it to be because it is a great platform with great aftermarket support. Kurt Williams, the owner of Cruiser Outfitters has spent a lot of time and money building up his 2000 UZJ100 over the past 6 months. I would not be surprised if he had 30K (hypathetical cause his low labor costs) on top of the purchase price of the vehicle to get it to it amazing state. He had mentions he had 150 man hours in to it over last few months but he got all his labor from his 4x4 buddies. To pay for that kind of labor gets very pricey. Kurt's rig is very nice and he has nothing but great thing to say about it. He did a great job and built it for his needs. This may be a little more difficult to do with the G500 because the aftermarket is limited to just a couple of outfitters. http://www.rme4x4.com/showthread.php?93885-Project-Hundy-Build-Thread-2000-UZJ100-Land-Cruiser

The G500 is much more trail ready right out of the box and you may never need to modify it other than slapping on some bigger tires. I have had a blast with mine and it is in stock form. My G500 is about to undergo a transformation but I am spending most of the budget on expedition gear because the vehicle does not need many improvements. I plan to get some beadlocks, a roof rack, a trailer hitch, 2 roof top tents, some awnings, and an offroad trailer with all the goodies like 12 volt power, sink, stove, fridge, water tanks, air bags and more beadlocks. I am glad I can spend the extra money on the trailer rather than dumping into setting up suspension and addressing all the shortcomings on the vehicle.

Both are great rigs, Toyota's are more of a platform to build on while the G500 is trail ready right out of the box.
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
#14
Engine: Advantage G500, this is not even close. It is silky smooth, powerful and get between 13-17mpg but I have seen up to 20 mpg a few times on long trips on the freeway. The V8 in the G-class is also much more reliable than the I-6 in the Toyota. The Toyota never got better than 14mpg and head gaskets were a problem on both vehicles I owned. You only have to change the oil every 10-15K miles on the G500 which I love. A sensor detects how many particulates are in the oil.
Fantastic synopsis 4D55!!

Out of curiosity, what oil do you run in your G? Even with top quality synthetic, I would not recommend 10-15k intervals as the oil will still break down enough after 10k to cause engine wear. 10k is the max I'd recommend if you're doing freeway driving all the time. If a mix of city/freeway, I'd recommend 7.5k. Just my $0.02 being in the industry.
 
#15
Fantastic synopsis 4D55!!

Out of curiosity, what oil do you run in your G? Even with top quality synthetic, I would not recommend 10-15k intervals as the oil will still break down enough after 10k to cause engine wear. 10k is the max I'd recommend if you're doing freeway driving all the time. If a mix of city/freeway, I'd recommend 7.5k. Just my $0.02 being in the industry.
I talked about this very question with the service manager last time I was at the dealer and shooting the breeze. Apparently the G500 has a good filtration system. I only have the dealer change the oil. So what ever synthetic they are putting in it I suppose that is the recommended oil. As far as the oil breaking down, I am not sure that is the case because it is the particulates and heat that break down the oil and that is what the sensor measures. I know some of the Cummins guys that will go 50K between oil changes when the FS-2500 bypass filter installed. Would I go 30K miles between changes, no. Does the G500 have an FS-2500 in place, no. But it just goes to show that proper filtration can increasing the longevity of the engine oil. I live the second driest stat in the union so and do a lot freeway driving. This definitely helps increase oil change intervals.

My Jetta TDI is the same way. Oil change intervals are 10-15K miles. I think the new 2013 Cummins is at 15K mile intervals, up from 7.5K last year.
 
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