With the 70th anniversary of the Land Cruiser, Toyota reveals its redesigned flagship SUV

By George Kuruvilla

Published: Thu 17 Jun 2021, 6:34 PM

The Toyota Land Cruiser is, without question, one of the most popular SUVs in the world. And for good reason! Since its launch, way back in 1951, a total of 10.4 million units or so have been sold globally. It has played its part in humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts and has served thousands of families in their daily endeavours. So then, this isn’t just another luxury SUV; it is an iconic one.



A trip down memory lane

It started with the original BJ, a smallish off-roader that wasn’t too far off the likes of the Willy’s Jeep. In the early days, it was used by Japan’s National Police Agency and even became the first vehicle to climb up to the sixth checkpoint of Mount Fuji — that beautiful snow-capped peak we see in some of Japan’s tourism literature. The BJ was later christened as ‘Land Cruiser’, the name we have come to love. The second generation was redesigned for civilian use and was exported beyond the borders of the island nation, which helped the Japanese brand advertise its resounding quality. It was followed by many other generations, including the 40 Series that helped it gain fame as a cross-country vehicle and was sold to customers for a long 24-year period, followed by the more spacious 50 Series.

Then came the 60 Series that I remember seeing as a child on the streets of Dubai, which formed my first memories of the Land Cruiser and 4x4s, in general. Many of you will also remember the 80 Series that drove the Land Cruiser brand to new heights of popularity. It was with this generation, the LC got bulkier. But this was also the first to sport socially acceptable looks as opposed to farming machinery visuals of the older models. Then came the 100 Series (1998 to 2007), the first to be accepted into the unofficial fraternity for luxury SUVs; also the first to gain independent suspension upfront. What we see commonly on the roads today is the current generation, the LC200, which needs no introduction. It is a large barge of a vehicle with a large measure of ‘luxury’ and is a member of so many households in this region. But now, the time has come for an all-new 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser, codenamed LC300!

The new LC300

Friendly folks, this isn’t just a makeover, this is all new inside and out, mechanically and technologically. The new full-size SUV keeps that large footprint, as expected. And keeping in line with industry trends, Toyota designers have rendered a burly form that incorporates sleeker headlamps mixed with a gargantuan grille upfront. From some angles, it does resemble the new Cadillac Escalade. The rear lamps get similar treatment as well but keep the familiarity with past Toyotas. All in all, it has got the road-going presence and adequate distinction one would require of a large luxury SUV, but a validation of aesthetics requires a view in the flesh.

Obviously, we have not climbed abroad this metallic duke of the desert just yet, but pictures have told us plenty. Minimalism seems to be the essence of their redo on the insides. They have neatly cleaned up the previously button-dominated surfaces of the dashboard and have aligned the panels for a seamless aesthetic. Toyota boffins have ditched the 4-spoke steering wheel for a conventional sportier 3-spoke variant. The other big change is that the screens are larger everywhere, from the information box between the analogue instruments to the optional 12.3-inch infotainment screen on the centre console. And they have done some real engineering, too, in terms of accommodations. The third row of seats can now be folded down into the floor, unlike the current model which requires us to stow them away to the sides.

The powertrain’s progress

Going deeper into their encyclopedia of changes, you would find that there has been a remarkable reduction of unladen weight. The new vehicle is lighter by 200 kg. They have also managed to lower the centre of gravity, improve weight distribution etc. Toyota aims to reduce CO2 emissions by about 10 per cent a year globally, partly aided by newly developed Direct Shift-10AT (10-speed automatic transmission) and partly, the lighter mass.

In the powertrain department, the displacement disciples will certainly mourn the loss of the V8 as it leaves some big shoes to be filled. But worry not, the newly developed twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 is big news on paper. It manages to churn out a mighty 409 bhp and a great twist of torque which peaks at 650 Nm — a bump of 43 bhp and 120 Nm, respectively. The improved numbers, along with the weight loss, allows the LC300 to claim a 0 to 100 kmph time of 6.7 seconds, which is impressive for any vehicle, let alone a 2.5-ton full-size SUV. What all of this means is that getting off the line is now easier and making highway passes are going to be just as effortless. And most importantly, the weight of a 7-people family isn’t going to slow it down either, at least not by much.

Even off-road outings are deemed to be more fun, thanks to a whole range of improvements and features, ranging from better suspension geometry that has improved wheel articulation and road-holding capabilities to the incorporation of electronic chaperones, such as confusingly named E-KDSS (Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System); Multi-Terrain Monitor and the Multi Terrain Select that adjusts, power delivery, braking, etc. automatically to suit road/off-road conditions. Also, expect a suite of active and passive safety features in the LC300. For the more adventurous types, Toyota has also added the GR Sport edition to the range, which will benefit from all the off-road technological tricks and some exterior mods as well.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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