Off-road enthusiasts take notice: Toyota's legendary Land Cruiser is back, and the company has brought two distinct flavours to the table – the "Light Duty" 250 Series and the "Heavy Duty" 70 Series, with both sporting refreshingly neoclassical designs.
Returning to the nameplate's hardy origins that have defined it across continents and decades, the latest model now wears a decidedly more utilitarian and robust look than its predecessor, with muscular arches and horizontal lines that form the Land Cruiser silhouette. Gone also is the posh and luxurious interior, now replaced with a rugged and sturdy cabin that can withstand a wide range of driving conditions.
According to Toyota, this was an intentional approach taken by then-President Akio Toyoda, who was ultimately responsible for product development of the 250 Series. In the words of Mr. Toyoda, "The Land Cruiser should be a car that supports people's lives and local communities, so the Light Duty model must return to the true form that customers are looking for."
Its measurements are 4,925 mm by 1,980 mm by 1,870 mm, with a wheelbase of 2,850 mm.
At the core of the new 250 Series Land Cruiser is the proven TNGA-F platform on which it sits, giving the SUV impressive driving capabilities on-road and off the beaten path. Toyota states that frame rigidity is now up by 50%, and a 30% increase in overall rigidity.
It also uses a variety of advanced systems to ensure optimum performance regardless of terrain conditions. To compensate for reduced loss of steering control when driving off-road, Toyota has fitted the Land Cruiser with Electric Power Steering, or EPS. It also aids the driver in low-speed manoeuvrability, provides a sharper steering feel, and enables Lane Tracing Assist.
The Land Cruiser even comes with Stabiliser Disconnect Mechanism (SDM), a first for Toyota vehicles. Operated via a switch, it enables the state of the front stabiliser to be changed. This delivers driving performance and ride comfort when off-road, and stable handling when on-road.
To ensure that all the critical controls found inside Land Cruiser are within easy reach and also user-friendly for the driver regardless of conditions, the carmaker sought the expertise of Dakar Rally driver Akira Miura.
Miura, who also drives for their Toyota Auto Body factory team, stressed on the importance on "having interfaces that support the driver with maximum accuracy and minimum effort" – which explains the driving-specific tactile switchgear enveloping the driver's side in the cockpit.
Apart from thoughtful design choices, the Land Cruiser also prioritises modularity and ease of repair. The latest model features high levels of customisability thanks to easy-to-remove body parts, which also translates to easy repairs in the event of damage sustained during the course of ownership.
Two styling options will be available on the 250 Series Land Cruiser. Depending on which trim is selected, buyers will either get the modern rectangular headlights-equipped model or the one with rounded headlights, evoking the styling cue of the original Land Cruiser.
There will also be a diverse set of powertrains to choose from, including a turbocharged petrol-electric T24A-FTS 2.4-litre engine with an eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission, and a basic 2TR-FE 2.7-litre petrol engine with a six-speed Super-ECT transmission.
And like most other modern Toyota cars, the Land Cruiser is equipped with the latest Toyota Safety Sense active safety suite.
The much more rugged 70 Series Land Cruiser, which was also unveiled at the event, features retrolicious looks, with circular LED headlights and a Toyota script proudly emblazoned on the front grille.
Sitting on a ladder-frame chassis, it will feature a 2.8-litre 1GD-FTV turbodiesel powerplant and a six-speed Super ECT automatic transmission, producing 201 bhp and 500 Nm of torque.
Following the simplistic form outside, the 70 Series' cabin is visually straightforward and purely functional.
There's no news yet on the new Land Cruiser – either in its 70 or 250 Series guise – coming to Singapore, but one thing is for sure: enthusiasts the world over are excited that Toyota's iconic off-roader has finally returned, and more than ready to give the Defender a run for its money.
Photo Credits: Toyota Motor Corporation
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