This is the first all-new Land Cruiser in 14 years. It's a vehicle that Toyota takes very seriously, the pinnacle of its off-road range, a thing of desire to those who want a capable and dependable go-anywhere SUV. Yet we aren’t getting it in the United States.
The last iteration of the Land Cruiser didn't do too well in U.S. sales, selling roughly 3200 units a year over the last decade, so it makes sense for Toyota to focus on markets where demand remains high. And in Japan, it's definitely high; customers there face a yearlong waiting list. That's because, as the official global unveil a few months back made clear, the LC300 series Land Cruiser is predominantly aimed at the Middle East, with about 60 percent of production heading there. Russia and Australia come next, with few select markets being peppered with small allocations.
Toyota kindly arranged for a Tokyo drive of the GR Sport version of the Land Cruiser, the sportier version of the truck that comes with a more apt front grille treatment, locking diffs, and a retuned suspension for the best possible off-road experience. Our two days with the LC300, while very much on pavement, made it clear that Toyota has done an impressive job making this new Land Cruiser the best possible version of the model.
That starts at chassis level. This truck remains body-on-frame but is now built using a new production technique that reduces metal overlap and employs more refined welding. Aluminum doors, roof, front fenders, and hood follow, slashing weight by 440 pounds compared to the outgoing model but increasing torsional rigidity by 20 percent. Gone is the air suspension, its complexity replaced with good old coils and regular gas struts in an all-new revised geometry to improve handling as much as off-road capability.
As with the new Tundra, the Land Cruiser's V-8 is gone, replaced by the same 3.5-liter V-6 twin-turbo and 10-speed automatic transmission found in a Lexus LS500. Toyota has adapted the powertrain to the demands of off-roading, allowing the force-induced V-6 to cope with the 27.5-inch fording capability. This engine's 409 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque don't really make you miss the V-8, except perhaps in the aural department. There's also an all-new diesel option, a 305-hp twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6, which brings 516 pound-feet of torque to the table along with slightly better fuel economy and range.
All of this translates into a massively improved Land Cruiser, and that's before we get to its cosseting ride or the way it's notably better to drive. The over-engineered feel that has always made these vehicles so desirable and dependable has been elevated to new levels, and the driver is always aware of that. While we didn't have a chance to sample the diesel, the V-6 allows immediate acceleration from any speed with improved fuel economy. Also, cogs are swapped effortlessly, something that's never been the Land Cruiser's forte. During our test we managed 18 mpg. Improvements or not, this is still a 5,600-pound truck with a solid rear axle.
If the U.S. ever gets the Land Cruiser, it will most likely arrive as the Lexus version of the truck, but nothing has been confirmed. We'd rather Toyota brought us the GR Sport version of the LC300. Even though it's nothing more than a trim level, that rugged front grille treatment gives the Land Cruiser killer looks. So, Toyota, how about it?
You Might Also Like