Did you know that the Toyota Land Cruiser is the single oldest car in the automaker’s lineup?
That’s right – as of 2014, Toyota has been commercially manufacturing their off-road SUV for 30 years, with the first Series 70 Land Cruiser hitting their domestic market in 1984 and spreading globally soon after. In fact, the prototype that eventually became the Land Cruiser actually started out as a military vehicle. Toyota was ordered to develop the original vehicle before the Korean War so that the Japanese military could have their own version of the American Jeep.
Of course, this isn’t a history class, so we’ll keep the boring background stuff to a minimum, but it’s important to illustrate that this often overlooked SUV actually has deep roots in Japanese culture. Even though today’s Land Cruiser is arguably more luxury than utility (and only available in a few select markets), Toyota hasn’t forgotten the vehicle’s simplistic military background. And Toyota’s Japanese drivers haven’t either, even though the Land Cruiser hasn’t been sold there for 10 years.
For one year only, Toyota is bringing back of the original Series 70 Land Cruiser in Japan. This week marks the beginning of that year, which is intended to be a sort of “Thank You” to their Japanese fan base.
Okay, we’re done with the history lesson! Let’s talk specs:
Toyota will bring back the ’84 Land Cruiser in two different body styles – a double-cab pickup and the more conventional van. Both versions will be built on the Land Cruiser’s traditional closed ladder frame with extremely rigid cross braces – a simple-but-strong chassis that can handle even the most grueling off-road terrain. The van will offer more comfort with the extra interior space, while the pickup makes up for it with a sturdy deck that can take on up to 600kgs without any trouble.
Beneath the hood, the re-released Series 70 Land Cruiser will run on a powerful 4.0L V6 engine with part-time four-wheel drive and a rugged manual transmission. The engine uses VVT-i technology and an Acoustic Control Induction System to help optimize the car’s admittedly feeble fuel efficiency, which sits at 6.6 km/L (about 15mpg). However, it doesn’t need to be said that this is one very powerful engine, capable of 228hp and 265 lb-ft of torque.
As you look through the pictures, you’ll notice that Toyota has made a few quality of life changes to ever so slightly modernize the Series 70. Additions like a new grille and headlight configuration make the original Land Cruiser subtly better-looking. Meanwhile, SRS airbags and ABS makes the off-road vehicle safer than ever, while an updated-but-still-functional instrument panel makes it easy to keep your eyes on the road while monitoring the dash.
All in all, we’d be lying if we said that we weren’t a little bit jealous of the Japanese market. This Land Cruiser 70 re-release looks very well done, and the 200 or so drivers per month who’ll get one should certainly count themselves lucky. Fortunately, all hope is not lost for our American readers – if you really want a traditional Series 70 Land Cruiser, you can still find used models if you’re willing to look. In fact, if you come back tomorrow, we’ll show you a great place to find one!
Otherwise, you can watch this video to see the new-old Series 70 Land Cruiser in action: