Toyota has shown off its first all-new Land Cruiser since 2007, but the sad news is that the big new 4x4 won't be coming to Ireland. It's also one of the tiny number of current Toyota products that, for now, doesn't have a hybrid option.
A replacement for the Amazon
The new Land Cruiser J300 is not a replacement for the existing 'J150' Land Cruiser which is on sale in Ireland - that's a smaller model, and known globally as the Land Cruiser Prado. No, the new 300 is the replacement for the J200 model, originally launched in 2007, and known here as the Land Cruiser Amazon.
The new 'Cruiser gets an entirely new platform, and the option of 3.5-litre V6 petrol, or 3.3-litre V6 diesel - both with twin turbos and what Toyota describes as "class-leading driving performance and drivability that surpass those of a conventional V8 engine." That diesel has 308hp and a whopping 700Nm of torque. Both engines drive all four wheels (of course) through a new ten-speed automatic gearbox. Underneath, there's an entirely new chassis, called the GA-F platform, which in spite of its colossal size, means that the Land Cruiser J300 is actually some 200kg lighter than the old Amazon.
It's still an old-school 'body-on-frame' construction, and that is to the benefit of the 'Cruiser's off-road performance, something for which it has long been legendary. That off-road performance has, apparently, been improved on thanks to longer-travel suspension with better wheel articulation. There's also a new active-anti-roll system, called the electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (e-KDSS), which disables the anti-roll bars for better off-roading, or switches them back on for flatter cornering when you're back on the tarmac.
See-through bonnet system
There's a new 'multi-terrain monitor' system which uses cameras to effectively 'see-through' the bonnet, allowing a driver to carefully place and position the car in tough off-road conditions, and if you're looking for more proof of its mud-and-sand prowess, Toyota says that it's been put through an "extensive evaluation by in-house drivers with advanced or master-level technical skills and drivers who have participated in the Dakar Rally." There's also a 'Multi-Terrain Select' function, which can work out what kind of terrain you're on and tweak the various assistance systems to best effect. Beyond all that, length, width, wheelbase and departure and approach angles are said to be very close to the outgoing model.
In safety terms, there's a full suite of Toyota Safety Sense features, including emergency braking that detects pedestrians and cyclists, and which can detect pedestrians at night too. It can also detect oncoming vehicles at intersections and pedestrians crossing the street when the vehicle is turning in either direction, and there's emergency steering assistance too, for avoiding a potential collision.
Three different noses
Style-wise, the new Land Cruiser 300 looks very much like an evolution of the old Amazon, albeit with three new grille styles for the front, which we're going to call Big Nose, Medium Nose, and Sports Nose. The interior looks broadly similar to that of the current Land Cruiser J150 Prado, but with a new, bigger screen in the middle, and more luxurious appointments.
Toyota says that the car is essentially aimed at customers in the Middle East and the US, where fuel economy is not such a big concern, hence the lack of a model for Ireland, A hybrid version hasn't quite been ruled out, but isn't on the horizon at the moment.
It's a big year for the Land Cruiser, though - 2021 is the car's 70th birthday, marking the anniversary of the original Land Cruiser, based heavily on a US Army Willys Jeep, climbing up Mount Fuji, and so impressing the Japan Defence Forces that a huge order was put in. Since then, 10.4 million units and more than 300,000 units a year have been sold in 170 countries and regions all over the world, and Toyota says that in its 70th years, the Land Cruiser: "[will] continue to live up to its reputation among customers as a vehicle that allows people to go anywhere & everywhere and come back alive and safe, the Land Cruiser's unrivalled existence has continued to evolve, improving its reliability, durability, and off-road performance."