SUVs are the most active and growing segment in the market these days but most of the focus has been on the medium and compact segment although new larger models have also been drawing new customers.
What of the older models… the original SUVs? Their evolution slowed down but there has still been demand due to their proven reputation for toughness and reliability. The Land Cruiser is one of them and over the 70 years it has been around, approximately 10.4 million units have been sold in 170 countries and regions all over the world.
In this 70th anniversary year of the model, Toyota has completely redesigned it by merging technologies accumulated over many years with the latest technologies. The redesigned SUV is designated the 300 Series, replacing the 200 Series that has been in production since 2007. First shipments will start from next month.
It sits on the new lighter GA-F platform based on TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) while keeping the chassis frame structure. The vehicle size is the same as the previous model but there is a kerb weight reduction across the range of more than 100 kgs.
New twin-turbo engines
Newly developed powertrains include a V6 twin-turbo engine (3.5-litres petrol, 3.3-litres diesel). The turbodiesel has V8-beating performance and flexibility, lifting power output by 13.5% (to 309 ps)and torque by 7.7% (to 700 Nm). The petrol engine has an output of 415 ps/650 Nm. Some markets may a non-turbo V6 petrol engine.
A Multi Terrain Select 4×4 system automatically judges the road surface and selects the best driving mode. The twin-turbo engines will have a Direct Shift 10-speed automatic transmission but the non-turbo V6 engine will have a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The suspension layout is essentially the same as before but with Improvements that increase wheel articulation. A world first is the new electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (e-KDSS) that increases off-capability with a larger suspension stroke achieved by effectively disabling the front and rear stabiliser bars.
Toyota Safety Sense
Like all the latest Toyota models, the new Land Cruiser has the Toyota Safety Sense active safety package. The latest version is installed with additional advanced functions. Two functions have been added to the pre-collision system that helps avoid a collision or reduce damage by detecting pedestrians (daytime and nighttime) and cyclists (daytime).
The first is a function that detects oncoming vehicles at intersections and oncoming pedestrians crossing the street when the vehicle is turning in either direction. The second is an emergency steering and crash avoidance function, which assists with steering and lane-keeping and is triggered when the driver performs a steering manoeuvre to avoid a collision.
There is also a new Parking Support Brake which helps prevent accidents by recognizing obstacles in front and back of the vehicle in a parking lot, approaching vehicles when the vehicle is backing, and pedestrians.
Also helping drivers over rough ground is the Multi-Terrain Monitor (shown below) that displays obstacles as viewed from the driver’s viewpoint. It is available when driving at low speeds and enables the driver to check the vehicle surroundings while moving along.
Coming to Malaysia?
The Land Cruiser was the first Toyota model sold in Malaysia, although some may argue that in 1957 when it was delivered to a customer in Tawau, the state of Sabah was not yet part of Malaysia. It impressed with its toughness and reliability and the Land Cruiser, like the Hilux, became synonymous with 4×4 vehicles in East Malaysia.
The Land Cruiser was first assembled locally in Sarawak in the 1970s. Later on, in the 1980s when UMW Toyota Motor took over the franchise, it transferred assembly to ASSB in Shah Alam, Selangor. The Land Cruiser was a popular 4×4 model but as it evolved, it gained more advanced technological features and became more expensive, just like the Mitsubishi Pajero, another popular large 4×4 SUV.
The Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s impacted sales of large 4x4s, especially with increased taxes and after the Land Cruiser Prado, local assembly ended. Though SUVs became increasingly popular, the trend was with the smaller models and with its big engines, the Land Cruiser remained popular in markets like America and the Middle East. However, the IMV (Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle) program gave birth to the Fortuner which took over the role of the Land Cruiser in many markets, including Malaysia.
As UMW Toyota Motor is bringing in more CBU models from Japan these days, perhaps they might consider importing the new Land Cruiser as well (otherwise the grey importers will). After all, they do offer the Lexus LX, which is adapted from the Land Cruiser.