The transition from the 60-series to the 80-series was more drastic than that from the 50-series to the 60-series. A number of new technologies were introduced, and it was more of a revolutionary change than an evolutionary one.
The only engine that was kept on as it was from the 60-series was the 3F-E-type, while the diesel 1HD-T and the 1HZ-type that had also been used in the 70-series underwent major improvements not only in power but also in reduced noise and vibration, making it a new generation diesel engine. The new engine design included thicker cylinder walls with reinforced ribs, thoroughly researched through computer analysis. Moreover, the cylinder head cover and other parts that did not need to be reinforced were replaced with resinous parts, enabling the new engine to be stronger, lighter, and more compact at the same time.
The 80-series lasted for about 9 years, during which both the gasoline and the diesel engines evolved. The gasoline engine progressed from the 3F-E type to the 1FZ-FE-type, which was a DOHC with 4 valves on each cylinder. The diesel engine progressed from the turbo spec 1HD-T-type to the 1HD-FT-type, which was also a 4-valve per cylinder type.
In the power train, the transfer gained a central differential, and all but one grade had a full-time 4x4 system. A switch on the instrument panel enabled you to go from 2WD to high-range 4WD, while a lever on the floor enabled you to directly shift into LO range 4WD. This so-called HF2A transfer had electronic controls for locking the central differential when you wanted to, so that according to ground conditions even in part-time 4x4 mode you could drive effectively on bad roads. Moreover, there was also a maker option for an electronic differential lock mechanism on the front and rear axle, which enabled you to travel even further on bad roads.
In the suspension, leaf springs were replaced with coil springs in front and rear. This maintained strong durability, while at the same time improving driving comfort and steering stability. There were 3 arms supporting the axle in the front, and 5 in the rear. Each arm had rubber bushings on the pivot portion, which were designed to provide strong axle support as well as reduce shocks and vibrations coming from rough road surfaces. The overall result was improved riding comfort.
The same instrument panel was used on the 80-series from its first release in 1989 through 1994. The curved design was modeled after a grand piano, and had a rich sense of volume. The switches were easy to see and operate.
With the minor change in 1995 the 80-series introduced significant changes in the interior. The instrument panel was divided into a meter panel and a center panel, and the number of switches it shared with other models increased.
The third seat on the 80-series wagon could be folded up when not in use. However, its storage position was high, and this severely limited the rear right and left field of view. On the other hand, the cargo space had a wide floor area, and the body was large enough to handle larger loads.
The luggage space could be made even larger by folding down the second and third seats.
The main engine in the 80-series was the 6-cylinder 4.2-liter turbo diesel. The first models in the 80-series came with a 1HD-T-type engine (left), which produced 165PS/37.2kgm. With the minor change in 1995 this engine was replaced by the 1HD-FT-type (right), a 24-valve power unit that produced 170PS/38.7kgm.
The earlier models carried a gasoline engine 3F-E-type (right), which was replaced in 1992 by the newly developed 1FZ-FE-type engine (left). The specs of the 3F-E-type were 155PS/29.5kgm, while the specs for the 1FZ-FE-type were 215PS/38kgm.
Left: the front suspension was a 3-link rigid coil type. There are 2 leading arms, which strongly reinforce the axle housing. Right: the rear suspension was a 5-link rigid coil type. The axle housing is supported by a lot of arms, and it is more flexible than that in the front.
Because the 80-series models had a low side-step and a long rear overhang, the body tended to scrape the ground in serious offroading. However, the suspension was strong, and far more durable than that of other 4x4 in its class. The steering angle was rather large, which made it easier to maneuver the large body on narrow city streets.