Toyota’s new 300-Series LandCruiser has finally broken cover – and there are some big surprises.
Gone is the V8 engine that defined the 200-Series it will replace and in is a new 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 – but it makes more power than the V8.
The new V6 – the first time a LandCruiser has been fitted with a V6 in Australia – outpunches the V8 for power and torque: 227kW and 700Nm versus 200kW and 650Nm. It’s hooked up to a new 10-speed automatic that should further boost performance.
There’s also a new 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol engine making 305kW/650Nm, although that engine isn’t expected to be sold in Australia.
Unveiled in the Middle East overnight, the new LandCruiser is due on sale in Australia later in 2021. And it won’t come a moment too soon, with Toyota running low on stocks of the outgoing 200-Series – prompting some buyers to pay over the odds to get hold of the last of the V8s.
The design of the new 300-Series LandCruiser is very much evolutionary, utilising the same basic shape and even carrying over key styling touches such as the scallop in the bonnet.
But slimmer headlights mounted higher on the car – in part to protect against damage off-road – modernise the look and emphasise the even bolder grille.
“The new LandCruiser range brings improved design and advanced new technologies that advance its performance in all conditions while enhancing its comfort, convenience and safety as a luxury vehicle,” said Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice president sales, marketing and franchise operations.
“It is an indispensable tool that supports our customers lives and livelihoods by enabling them to travel almost anywhere – and return – in safety and comfort.”
300-Series goes sporty … sort of
For their first time the LandCruiser will be available as a GR Sport model, referencing Toyota’s performance sub-brand Gazoo Racing.
With black highlights – including grille, mirrors and wheel arch surrounds – the LandCruiser GR Sport has a distinctive look against the heavily-chromed standard 300-Series variants.
There’s every chance the GR Sport will focus more on off-road performance as much as on-road dynamics.
Inside, the new Cruiser gets more buttons in lieu of dials. But it’s a big, broad cabin.
There are still three rows of seats, although the only image Toyota has released so far shows seating for seven (the current 200-Series has seating for up to eight people).
However, the new model folds the third row seats into the floor instead of leaving them hanging against the side of the car – a much better setup for those planning to load the luggage area up.
300-Series to be better on-road
Indeed, improvements to on-road manners have been high on the list for Toyota engineers.
In revealing the new car, chief engineer Takami Yokoo said on-road comfort and safety was a major focus.
“This vehicle is easy to drive while minimising fatigue, no matter what road you are driving on.”
The new LandCruiser rides on an all-new ladder frame architecture dubbed TNGA-F. There’s still independent front suspension but the rear suspension – which is still a live axle setup – has been heavily revised, making the shock absorbers more upright.
The engine and transmission have been lowered 28mm and pushed rearward 700mm to improve the weight balance (now 53.5 percent over the front and 46.5 percent over the rear) and lower the centre of gravity.
Toyota also claims weight savings of approximately 200kg, in part due to the downsizing of the engine. As exclusively reported by Motofomo in March, the new LandCruiser is expected to get some aluminium panels, which would no doubt contribute to those weight reductions.
… and off-road
But it’s off-road where LandCruiser reputations are forged, and Toyota has gone to work there too. Reliability and durability were a key focus, as repeated numerous times during the online presentation. That’s one reason Toyota stuck with a ladder frame and live axle rear-end.
A new electronic KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) will also be available, allowing the front and rear stablisers to be disconnected, further improving wheel articulation.
In revealing the 300-Series Toyota made the frank admission that the 100-Series and 200-Series had not matched the older 80-Series (sold in the 1990s) for off-road prowess.
Chief engineer Yokoo said the goal was to improve on the 80-Series LandCruiser, which he described as having “the best rough road performance of any LandCruiser”.
Exact dimensions and details are yet to be released, but Toyota claims there is better wheel articulation and similar approach and departure angles when compared with the 200-Series.
Toyota is also turning to tech, with a new Multi-Terrain Monitor providing a virtual view of what’s under the car.
Plus there’s a new Multi-Terrain Select system claimed to automatically detect the road surface to then tailor things such as traction control and throttle response.
As with the outgoing 200-Series, the 300-Series can tow up to 3500kg.
Diesel for now, but electric is coming
Some form of electric motor assistance is due in the LandCruiser throughout its life.
Toyota has promised it will have hybrid or electric propulsion for all its mainstream models – LandCruiser included – by 2030.
Given the life of a LandCruiser is typically 10 years or longer, that means it’s the 300-Series that will do the work.
The most likely options are a regular hybrid (likely using a petrol engine) or a hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle setup.
Read more about the potential for a hybrid or electric LandCruiser at EV Central.