Although it doesn’t sell in massive numbers, the Toyota Land Cruiser is an amazingly reliable and well-regarded SUV. The rugged 70-Series, first introduced in 1984—and never in the US—has been so popular, brand-new ones are still sold in Australia. It comes loaded with off-road features, is less prone to rollovers than the Jeep Wrangler, and it even offers 3 rows of seats. Unfortunately, its 5.7-liter V8 isn’t exactly easy on fuel. That’s why for its upcoming update, Toyota plans on giving the Land Cruiser a hybrid powertrain. But will that affect the SUV’s history of reliability?
Toyota Land Cruiser hybrid: the technical details
According to Motor Trend, the Land Cruiser will receive the same hybrid system as the LC500h luxury coupe. This consists of a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 linked to two electric motors. However, it’s unclear exactly what kind of performance this setup will offer.
In the LC500h, MT reported, the hybrid drivetrain puts out 354 hp combined. This would be a slight downgrade from the current V8’s 381 hp. But, Motor1 reports that the hybrid V6 will develop 295 hp and 262 lb-ft. Although, this doesn’t appear to take into account the dual electric motors. Australia’s Practical Motoring, however, did confirm the 354 hp figure quoted by MT, and also reported the hybrid powertrain would put out 369 lb-ft.
Regardless of power, the hybrid upgrade would also replace the Land Cruiser’s current 6-speed automatic with a CVT. The SUV will still have full-time four-wheel drive, though.
While this does sound like a power decrease, Motor1 and Practical Motoring report the SUV will ride on a new platform. While still body-on-frame, the new shared TNGA platform will leave the Land Cruiser lighter. In addition, a Toyota source speaking to Forbes claimed the new 300-Series Land Cruiser “will eclipse the handling and off-road capability of the Lexus LX570.”
Pricing and availability
As of this writing, Toyota has not officially released any information about a possible Land Cruiser hybrid. Currently, the base Land Cruiser retails for $86,640. A 2-row Lexus LX, meanwhile, has an MSRP of $87,675. It’s likely Toyota will keep the Land Cruiser hybrid’s price comfortably close to $85,000-$90,000.
That is, though, if it makes it to the US. MT reported that less than 4000 Land Cruisers were sold here in 2019. It’s possible Toyota may not see a business case for updating a vehicle that’s such a poor seller. But with the 300-Series Land Cruiser hybrid not launching until later in 2020—Motor1 reports summer, Forbes claims fall—and no test mules spotted, it’s too early to tell.
Will a Toyota Land Cruiser hybrid be less reliable?
Another reason why Toyota could hesitate over bringing a hybrid Land Cruiser to the US is the risk of damaging the SUV’s reputation.
Changing a vehicle’s platform, or introducing new engines and powertrains, often leads to multiple consumer issues. Bringing over a brand-new Land Cruiser, only to have it break down like a Range Rover, would be a potential disaster. And Toyota’s found strong sales success with SUVs like the 4Runner, which has been riding on the same platform for roughly a decade. Why change what isn’t broken?
However, Toyota seems to be taking this decision seriously. Forbes reported that because of the new Land Cruiser’s expected lifetime, the automaker will only use “its best, most reliable hardware to power the Land Cruiser into the future.”
Toyota finds itself in a similar position to when it debuted the updated Century sedan. The last thing Toyota wanted was for the Century’s customers—which include the Emperor of Japan—to be stranded on the side of the road. That’s why, as Jalopnik explained, some of the car’s technology seemed a little old: Toyota engineers knew it was proven and reliable.
Not to mention, if Toyota did bring over a Land Cruiser hybrid, it would allow the automaker to compete in a rapidly-widening market.
How it compares to other SUV hybrids
Dodge is gearing up to relaunch a Durango mild-hybrid, and Land Rover already offers a Range Rover mild-hybrid. Jeep, in addition to unveiling a plug-in hybrid Wrangler, has its Grand Wagoneer and Wagoneer hybrid SUVs waiting in the wings. The Lincoln Aviator is also available as a plug-in hybrid.
At the moment, Toyota’s only hybrid SUV is the Highlander, and it’s not a body-on-frame off-roader like the Land Cruiser. Offering a hybrid luxury SUV like that would expand Toyota’s potential customer base.
So, will a Toyota Land Cruiser hybrid be reliable? We’ll have to wait and see if Toyota brings it over, first.
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