Successor to “king off the road” has been pushed into next decade, questions raised over whether it will have turbo diesel V8 or turbo diesel V6 power.
The Toyota LandCruiser “300 Series” is still at least two years away from local showrooms and the company remains tight-lipped about the successor to the iconic off-roader.
CarAdvice recently spotted a prototype with 300 Series hardware disguised under a 200 Series body being tested on rural roads in Victoria.
The fact that this vehicle was at the early mock-up “mule” stage indicates its showroom arrival is still some time off.
It means the current generation 200 Series introduced in November 2007 will be at least 14 years old before being replaced – making it the longest-running LandCruiser wagon since the 1960s.
The previous LandCruiser 100 Series ran for nine years from 1998 to 2007, the LandCruiser 80 series ran for seven years from 1990 to 1997, and the LandCruiser 60 Series ran for nine years from 1980 to 1989.
Indeed, the current generation LandCruiser 200 Series is on track to outlast the LandCruiser 50 Series that ran for 13 years from 1967 to 1980. Only the LandCruiser 70 Series troop carrier and ute have had a longer production run, from 1984 to today.
Unconfirmed reports out of the US speculate the LandCruiser V8 may be replaced by a turbocharged V6, however that refers to petrol variants. The diesel V8 LandCruiser is not sold in the US.
Toyota currently does not have a turbo diesel V6 anywhere in its line-up, but such an engine could be used across other models.
Toyota has confirmed it is studying an option for more power for the HiLux as it seeks to meet increasing demand for more expensive utes such as the Ford Ranger Raptor, Mercedes X-Class and Volkswagen Amarok but has not revealed what – if any – more powerful engine options will make it into production.
However, there is also a compelling argument to retain or update the 200 Series LandCruiser's turbo-diesel V8.
Customers love the turbo diesel V8’s effortless power and it is unusual for a manufacturer to take an engine out of production after just 14 years. Most car manufacturers aim to get at least 20 years and two model cycles – or more – out of an engine “family”.
Plus, the 4.5-litre V8 is shared with the long-running LandCruiser 70 Series, albeit with a single turbo versus a twin turbo for the 200 Series.
That said, all previous LandCruisers have had in-line six-cylinder power – and the rest of the automotive world is downsizing engines to meet tougher global emissions standards.
Indeed, even at the launch of the 200 Series LandCruiser V8 range in 2007, Toyota was concerned about the perceived environmental impact of its new engine.
At the time Toyota said the "fuel efficiency of Toyota's LandCruiser 200 Series engines should prompt company and government fleets to reassess bans on buying V8 engines".
"These new engines demolish the argument that having a V8 engine is the same as having a gas guzzler," the boss of Toyota Australia said at the time. "Modern engine technology has advanced in leaps and bounds."
While it remains unclear whether the 300 Series LandCruiser will have V6 or V8 power – or both – there is a strong likelihood it will eventually be available with the option of hybrid technology.
Given Toyota’s mission statement to add hybrid across the range by 2025, a hybrid LandCruiser may come some time after the initial launch date for the all-new model.
When asked about the LandCruiser 300 Series, Toyota Australia executives refused to enter into a discussion about timing and engine options.
The sales and marketing boss of Toyota Australia, Sean Hanley, told CarAdvice the new LandCruiser would be “highly capable”.
“Given the environments that we believe we’ll go into over the next decade there will be something for our Toyota LandCruiser owners that’s both stylish and capable. LandCruiser has a long term future for Toyota Australia,” he said.
When pressed further, Mr Hanley said: “We are flattered by the interest from customers, our dealers and the media in LandCruiser, and we appreciate there is a lot of passion, but we have nothing to announce at this time.”
To keep the LandCruiser 200 Series fresh, Toyota updated it in October 2018 with more advanced safety tech.
This, too, indicates the next generation LandCruiser is still at least two years away given that Toyota added new equipment to an ageing model, rather than wait for the next generation to arrive.
Some customers have traded-in their older 200 Series for the newer one, with a view to switching into the 300 Series a couple of years into its lifecycle.
Historically, demand for LandCruiser is strong in the first couple of years on sale even though discounts are slim to none.
Timing a trade-in three or four years from now would give Toyota time to iron out any initial niggles with the 300 Series – and allow time for pricing to settle.
In the meantime, if you’re in the Australian outback, keep an eye out while Toyota continues to test the various iterations of prototypes locally over the next couple of years.