If you are planning on touring the country, you’ll know you need to set up your 4X4 with the right gear but you might not know about the ramifications of added weight and changes to the capability of your rig when you load it up. Here is where Cruisemasters Towing Performance Centre come in with expertise in safe loading and upgrades.
Cruisemaster is well known to Camper Australia readers, their DO35 hitch and independent trailing arm suspension are found in the best camper and caravans we’ve seen but more recently the company added a new arm, the Towing Performance Centre.
Based in the same Geebung, QLD location as the Cruisemaster headquarters, the set-up is serious with dedicated bays for installation and mechanical work and the room to have your caravan weighed and assessed too and here is where the Towing Performance Centre comes to its own.
BUILT TO TOW
It's one thing to pick some nice new accessories from a sales flier but another to understand the ramifications of fitting it all. A good shop will know that as you add weight, you lose payload capacity, that's obvious, but a great shop will be able to offer ways to offset that through GVM upgrades and an excellent shop will know which products have the attributes to suit the owner's needs with the least weight penalty.
This 2021 200 Series GXL has been built that way. Every addition has been considered for its strength, and durability but also its weight leading to a vehicle that has not only been upgraded but one that keeps its factory feel while adding capability.
This ethos starts upfront with the Offroad Animal Toro Bullbar which weighs around 30kg lighter than a lot of competitor bars yet has been thoroughly tested and proven to be up to the task. Cradled inside it is a Carbon winch with Dyneema rope, again, chosen for weight as well as capability. Under the bonnet is a MegaLife Lithium Starter battery that weighs only 9.6kg, a saving of up to 15kg. The MegaLife offers more than just a weight-saving though, it also has a reserve cell built-in that will not drain if the lights are left on and will start the car. It's a clever bit of kit.
Down the sides of the 200 are TJM side steps. Cruisemaster could have chosen more robust rock sliders that would likely weigh more than double the TJM option and fit the purpose of the build better.
Choosing the right parts is only part of the process though. The team also looked at how the 200 would be used and how people typically overload their cars and consciously chose not to fit rear drawers. Cruismaster found they were stuffing them full of unnecessary gear that just added weight. But where is my recovery gear? I hear you scream, on the Titan roof tray. It's all lightweight gear, no steel shackles only soft and in the boot, a false floor replaces the third row of seats which allows for the fridge on an MSA Fridge Slide to be mounted extra low for easy access as well as a better centre of gravity.
One thing you might have picked up on is that this 200 is not built with one brand’s catalogue. The Towing Performance Centre is not bound by the rules most shops are, they can work with who they want and that continues underneath.
4200KG 200 SERIES GVM UPGRADE
Even with all of the weight savings, the 200 still needs a GVM upgrade if you plan to carry a bit of extra gear or want to tow a trailer with a heavy ball weight. This is because, as standard, the GXL has a paltry 610kg payload. By increasing the GVM from 3350kg to 4200kg, Cruisemaster has more than doubled the payload to 1460kg. A lot of that will be taken up by the extras fitted but it will be unlikely that you overload this 200.
To do this, Cruisemaster turned to JMACX for a heavy-duty rear diff housing rated at 2500kg, Kings remote reservoir shocks, an Airbag Man helper kit and upgraded springs. Along with these parts, most control arms, wishbones and bushes have been replaced meaning the car keeps its factory alignment even with its new, slightly raised ride height so it will drive close to stock.
The cost of the GVM upgrade is a decent investment at $21,000 plus labour but for a serious touring family, it's a must. You’ll need to add on rated wheels and tyres as well as the cost to have it engineered but again, as part of a build package, it is the first place to start when upgrading a 200 Series Landcruiser.
All of these parts make the on-paper capability better for the 200 Series but trust is only built through testing and proof the gear will handle what an owner wants from it.
Cruisermaster’s RAT (Remote Area Testing) began as a way to test their couplings and suspension but as the durability of these parts increased, the vehicles the testing team used became the weakest point so now the Towing Performance Centre is part of the program testing products to their limits in harsh environments. This 200 leads the charge, already having covered over 20,000km towing and touring it has proved its worth.
Small changes to the planning and building of rigs like this have come from the previous testing like a focus on electrical reliability. This 200 runs a Switch Pro solid-state relay system working as a power distribution module that is programmable and controllable by an app. It removes almost all traditional relays that can be unreliable in bumpy conditions.
Charging is by Redarc BCDC feeding into an Invicta 100amp/hr lithium battery and out to a Redarc 350w inverter. It might seem low but then this rig tows a Zone RV caravan with more than enough power and charging capacity than is needed; the 200 has enough to run the fridge more than comfortably when unhitched for a few days.
HOW MUCH TO UPGRADE A 200 SERIES LANDCRUISER?
The highest single cost in this build is the GVM upgrade which alone was $21,000 plus labour but the sum of the rest of it is around $74,000. That might jump out at you as a lot but we’ve only scratched the surface of the build here. It includes everything from the Stedi lights to the GME radios, upgraded seats, an impeccable Kaymar rear bar that carries a cost of $5700 plus fitting and dozens of small details under the bonnet and in the cab to increase power, reliability and comfort. If you're planning to tow a load in the outback and need to do it reliability, the Towing Performance Centre is there to listen and budget with you on your custom build.
For more information
Cruisemaster Towing Performance Centre
The Next Steps
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