Blocky, upright proportions of Compact Cruiser concept are a clear nod to its 1960s ancestor
Toyota is preparing to expand and electrify the Land Cruiser line-up over the coming years, introducing an affordable, urban-focused derivative and a range-topping luxury model, to establish the name as a brand in its own right.
The new electric cars will follow the new ‘core’ Land Cruiser. That model arrives later this year with pure-diesel and mild-hybrid engine options and it is likely to be the final combustion-powered version of Toyota’s venerable offroader, launched in 1951.
Positioned either side of this new ‘J250’ model in marketing terms, the two new electric Land Cruisers will broaden the model line’s appeal by taking it into both more affordable and more luxurious territory, respectively.
Hinting at the rationale behind this new expanded line-up, Toyota’s chief branding officer, Simon Humphries, said the company is “exploring new approaches to mobility that not only enhance the Land Cruiser experience but also further people’s freedom in motion”.
Humphries added: “Our customers trust in us to keep Land Cruiser relevant and thriving toward the future.”
Toyota Compact Cruiser: What we know so far
Previewed as a concept but looking nearly production ready, the Toyota Compact Cruiser is a squat, rugged family SUV that attempts to offer the spirit of the Land Cruiser in a smaller, more affordable guise. Toyota said the concept was designed to “show how the ‘Cruiser’ moniker can adapt to an all-electric and ultramodern environment”, with a focus on young city buyers “who en joy active outdoor leisure interests”.
Humphries said Toyota is evaluating how to make the Land Cruiser line-up “more affordable” and “within reach of even more people around the world” as it electrifies.
The new compact model will serve as a more style-focused, utilitarian alternative to the similarly sized Toyota bZ4X, no doubt commanding a small premium to take it into contention with more premium-oriented rivals like the upcoming ‘baby’ Land Rover Defender and Mercedes’ ‘little’ G-Class.
It was designed at Toyota’s ED2 development centre in Nice, France – notably by the same team responsible for the radically styled Toyota Aygo X and Toyota C-HR concepts. Those two concepts evolved into near-identical production cars, suggesting the showroom version of the Compact Cruiser will stay true to the concept.
The visual relationship with the new combustion-powered Land Cruiser is clear. So, too, is the influence of the seminal J40-generation Land Cruiser of the 1960s, lending credence to reports that the FJ Cruiser name – used from 2006 until 2022 for a similarly conceived retro off-roader – will be revived.
The Compact Cruiser’s blocky, upright proportions and squared-off arches are clear nods to both its 1960s ancestor and the later FJ. A range of go-anywhere accessories (including a roof rack, auxiliary lights and branch deflector wires) hint at a degree of comparable off-road ability.
It is expected to ride on a variation of the E-TNGA platform that underpins the bZ4X, which produces up to 214bhp and has a 71.4kWh battery, giving a claimed 259mile maximum range. The bZ4X is available with both single- and twin-motor powertrains. However, Toyota says the concept is all-wheel drive, suggesting that arrangement will be standard, in line with the car’s rugged billing.
Toyota Land Cruiser SE: What we know so far
At the other end of the expanded line-up will be the much larger and more luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser SE. It will be entirely unrelated – technically and visually – to the utilitarian, off-road-focused Land Cruisers that have gone before.
It was displayed as a concept at the Tokyo show as part of a line-up that previews a totally overhauled range of Toyota EVs arriving in the second half of the decade. Other vehicles in this reimagined line-up include production versions of the FT-SE sports coupé, EPU pick-up and FT-3E crossover.
At the heart of this new family of electric cars lies a ‘gigacasted' chassis comprising three modular sections – front, centre and rear. This will dramatically improve manufacturing efficiencies by minimising the number of individual components used in each car while allowing Toyota to build models with very different proportions atop the same platform. The drivetrain and ancillary systems will be downsized as far as possible in a bid to reduce material usage, improve interior packaging and cut costs.
The Land Cruiser SE – which could launch in 2026 to mark the Land Cruiser’s 75th anniversary – will be equipped with Toyota’s new ‘Performance’ prismatic battery, which is said to be 20% cheaper to make than the pack in today’s bZ4X while potentially doubling the range and being substantially smaller. A ‘High-Performance’ battery option due by 2028 will cut costs by a further 10% and bump the range to as much as 621 miles in certain models.
Expected to be among the largest and heaviest cars in Toyota’s new-look line-up, the luxury Land Cruiser is unlikely to tout the loftiest range figures, but will no doubt still exceed the range of most electric SUVs on sale today.
Despite the SE’s radically different design and road-focused billing, Toyota remains committed to the core values of the Land Cruiser brand and says the SE will offer “highly responsible handling” in off-road situations, aided by the “high-torque driving characteristics of a battery-electric vehicle” and its modern monocoque, rather than ladder-frame, construction.