What Has Toyota In Store For The Land Cruiser?

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According to Japanese automotive magazine Best Car, Toyota might reveal a new generation Land Cruiser by mid-2020. 

The Toyota Land Cruiser was first introduced to the world in 1951. The first generation LC was Toyota’s take on a Jeep-styled vehicle. This led to Willys Company, who was the manufacturer of Jeeps in the U.S., file trademark violation against the Japanese brand. Toyota’s then Director of Technology Hanji Umehara named the off-roader as Land Cruiser, and the name has stuck ever since. Toyota only produced 90 units of the first generation LC. But that was the beginning of an era like no one could have guessed. The Land Cruiser quickly earned a following due to its rugged reliability and durability which has always been a Toyota hallmark. But nowhere did it gain a loyal fanbase more than Australia. In fact, the Land Cruiser is the bestselling body-on-frame 4×4 vehicle in the country. Toyota also extensively tests the SUV on the Australian Outback due to its extreme terrain and unforgiving climate.

The Toyota Land Cruiser spawned several body types. Prominent among them were hardtop, convertible, station wagon, long-base, short-base, soft top, and cab chassis pickup versions. That the LC could be put to use in various roles through modifications made to its body only proved its famed versatility. By 1965, Toyota had produced 50,000 examples of the Land Cruiser. The LC was also the bestselling vehicle in the United States the same year. By this time it had built such a reputation for itself that Land Cruisers began flying out of dealerships. By 1968, Toyota had sold 100,000 LCs. The number doubled in 1972 and yet there was no slowing down the LC as it clocked 300,000 sales in 1973. This year also marked a milestone for Toyota when it introduced the first diesel Land Cruiser, a long-base model with a six-cylinder motor for export.

The current-gen Land Cruiser was penned way back in 2007 and has stayed mostly unchanged since.

The Land Cruiser soldiered on for many years, expanding its following and earning accolades from owners, military and civilian alike, for its unmatched capability over all kinds of terrain. Toyota also produced LCs that focused on comfort as well as dynamics, but people going for this SUV were mostly smitten by its off-road manners. The shift to a more comfortable car came in 1967 when the LC was in its fifth generation of design, designated J50. The successive generations of the Land Cruiser saw it getting bigger both in size as well as engine capacity. The seventh-gen LC went on sale in 1998 and was replaced by the current Land Cruiser in 2007.

The turn of the millennium brought along with it major changes in the world. Chief among them was the pace at which automobile manufacturers were introducing new cars and updating them at shorter and shorter intervals. The Land Cruiser was still the major favorite in the markets it existed, but other carmakers were catching up quickly. Fast forward to today, the Land Cruiser has rivals on every continent it is present.

It just goes to show how excellent a product Toyota has made seeing that the Land Cruiser has only received minor facelifts and revisions since 2007 all the while retaining its top spot as the premier SUV of choice for multitudes of people. Toyota got the formula just right way back in 1951 and hasn’t deviated from the LC’s core DNA, resulting in the SUV surviving the times in more ways than one.

The two V8 engines might just give way to a new 3.5-litre V6 for the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser.

However, times are changing and even the immovable LC has to bow down to current market trends. That means it is time for a new generation of the Land Cruiser to arrive and set a new benchmark wherever there needs to be one. First, let us get the bad news out of the way. The two V8 engines on offer that power the LC (4.6-litre and 5.7-litre) will be axed from the assembly line. Instead, Toyota is planning to plonk a 3.5-litre V6 under its hood. The V6 can be found currently powering the Lexus LS500 sedan. There is another 3.5-litre V6 in the pipeline, this one being a part of a hybrid powertrain. This V6 along with two electric motors drives the current-gen Toyota Crown Hybrid.

Like we said, times are changing, and this is the first time the LC has to face downsizing. The next-gen Land Cruiser will also be the first of its family to be offered as a hybrid. All is not gloomy though, as the LC will still be a body-on-frame, 4×4 SUV as it always has been. The better news is that Toyota will thoroughly revamp the mechanicals of the drivetrain and extract even better performance from the platform. Speaking of platforms, there will be a new one underpinning the next-gen Land Cruiser.

Of course, Toyota is playing things close to the chest by hardly releasing any meaningful tidbits about the LC’s development. That said, now is the time for the new generation to go on sale as the Land Cruiser nameplate will be celebrating 75 years of continuous production in 2026. We don’t know what plans Toyota has for the LC’s distant future, but the ninth-generation of the SUV is coming by mid-2020 for sure. Fortunately, the Japanese carmaker has taken up the project just in time before people stop wondering about the LC’s fate and buy other, lesser SUVs instead. We take this to mean that Toyota also cares about the famed nameplate and isn’t ready to kill the LC or concede top spot to any other manufacturer. Godspeed Toyota, and keep the Land Cruiser alive!

Quality, capability, and reliability helped the Land Cruiser survive and thrive for so many years. Time to modernize to survive even more.

Images: CarScoops

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