The iconic Toyota LandCruiser V8 is nearing the end of the road, with well-placed sources claiming the next generation 300 Series will have a choice of V6 turbo-diesel and V6 turbo petrol power when it goes on sale in late 2021 – before eventually being joined by a V6 hybrid a few years later.
Toyota says it's too early to discuss technical details of what will be the first completely new LandCruiser in 14 years, however CarAdvice understands the current 4.5-litre V8 turbo-diesel and 4.6-litre V8 petrol will be phased out due to tougher global emissions standards.
There is a slim chance the V8 could win a stay of execution given Australia's emissions standards are a decade behind Europe's, however it's unlikely Toyota would invest extra engineering resources into an old engine with a limited lifespan.
While diehard LandCruiser fans will mourn the loss of the effortless towing ability and the lusty sound of a V8, it appears Toyota is unable to avoid the car industry's push to downsized engines that produce the same or more power from smaller capacities.
Despite repeated requests for clarification on the future of the LandCruiser V8, Toyota says it cannot discuss future model plans.
However, at the recent launch of the new Toyota Hiace van, the head of product planning and development for Toyota Australia, Bernard Nadal, told CarAdvice: “You would see most brands are shifting down from V8s whether it be petrol or diesel configurations. It's generally in the pursuit of greater efficiencies and to reduce CO2 emissions, so that's the global trend.”
As we reported in May, Toyota has not produced a turbo-diesel V6 before – but such an engine could also be used in other models such as the heavy-duty LandCruiser 70 Series and top-end versions of the HiLux ute.
While there has been much speculation about a hybrid LandCruiser, CarAdvice understands that variant will arrive a few years after the 300 Series goes on sale, after it initially launches with V6 diesel and V6 petrol power.
"Toyota is clearly a leader in hybrid technology," said Mr Nadal. "The European [brands] have gone typically to turbocharging diesel engines. With the struggles they're having in Europe today, we know a lot of them will move across to turbocharging petrol [engines]."
"A lot of them are already branching out into forms of electrification, so I think from a technology viewpoint, we've got a lot options moving forward, stated publicly in our 2025 and 2030 announcements."
Although a shift to V6 power – and eventually hybrid technology – is apparently inevitable, Toyota insists the LandCruiser won't lose any of its off-road or towing capability.
"I think that will well suit us for customer needs," said Mr Nadal. "The current hybrid take-up [of Toyotas] is amazing. It's going very, very well for us, not just in Australia but also in key European markets and in America. That's a fair sign of where we're going," he said.
Toyota has previously claimed it will offer a hybrid variant in every model range by 2025.
"By around 2025, every model in the Toyota and Lexus line-up around the world will be available as either a dedicated electrified model or have an electrified option," it said in a statement.
For now, however, it's unclear if Toyota will introduce a diesel hybrid or a petrol hybrid LandCruiser. To date, Toyota has not produced a diesel hybrid variant of any vehicle.
"While we have nothing to confirm in terms of a diesel hybrid in commercial vehicles, it’s not something we would definitively rule out at this stage. We are always assessing our model line-up and reviewing what is right for our customers and the market," said Toyota Australia manager of public affairs Brodie Bott.
To prepare sceptical rural buyers for the future rollout of hybrid technology, Toyota is about to commence a "hybrid education tour" of regional Australia.
“We are about to embark on what we're calling a hybrid cavalcade," says Toyota Australia vice president of marketing and sales, Sean Hanley. "It's not actually a tool to sell hybrid vehicles. It's to start the conversation in regional Australia about hybrid technology.”
Mr Hanley says Toyota wants to "start the conversation with regional Australia" because until the recent arrival of the new RAV4 SUV the company hasn't had a hybrid offering "that would necessarily be attractive ... to the agricultural area".
While Mr Hanley would also not be drawn on what engines will power the next generation LandCruiser, he said the vehicle would not lose any of its capability.
"We're confident enough to say that if we were to implement hybrid technology variants [they would have] advanced towing requirements, no compromise," said Mr Hanley. "We understand that hybrid technology should not compromise capability. This is our clear thinking going forward."
While Toyota is yet to announce timing of the next generation LandCruiser, it has confirmed that development work is well progressed, including local testing.
In the meantime, if the LandCruiser V8 is to be phased out, industry insiders are predicting a stampede on showrooms to buy the runout model, given traditional buyers prefer larger capacity engines and the V8 has proven so popular.
LANDCRUISER HYBRID: THE POSSIBILITIES FOR 2025
If the V8 LandCruiser is axed and hybrid power becomes an option, it won't be the end of the road as many fans might fear.
Based on what we know is available today, Toyota could adapt the 3.5-litre hybrid petrol V6 engine used in the Lexus LS500h sedan, which is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and produces a combined 294kW of power and 650Nm of torque – that's 94kW more power and the same torque output as the current twin turbo 4.5-litre V8 diesel.
Even a non-hybrid turbo V6 could be a tantalising proposition to replace the V8 petrol LandCruiser.
Toyota currently has at its disposal a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 that produces 310kW of power and 600Nm of torque, which eclipses the current 4.6-litre V8 petrol's modest output of 227kW of power and 439Nm of torque.