For generations now, the Toyota Land Cruiser has been renowned around the world as a capable off-roader with bulletproof reliability. At the heart of that reputation has been a series of burly engines — inline-fours, inline-sixes, and in more recent years, V8s.
But the next-generation Land Cruiser might be the first to take a step backwards in cylinder count — and possibly even power output. According to Japanese automotive publication Best Car Web, the next version of Toyota’s iconic off-roader might drop the eight-pot for a hybrid V6 powertrain.
Part of this news isn’t all that surprising; after all, we reported last year that a trademark filing suggested Toyota could be upgrading the Land Cruiser and its Lexus sibling to the twin-turbo V6 found in the slinky LS sedan. But the Japanese report (which was dug up by Motor Trend) suggests that it won’t be the solo performer that makes 416 horsepower in the LS 500, but rather the naturally-aspirated V6 attached to a pair of electric motors that’s found in the LC 500h and LS 500h.
Even more controversially, that powertrain will reportedly send that power to all four wheels via a continuously-variable transmission, better known (and widely loathed) as a CVT. Four-wheel-drive with low range will still be available, according to the report.
Best Car Web also claims that the new Land Cruiser will be built on a new platform that will be part of the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) family of underpinnings, which are used for everything from the Prius and Corolla to the aforementioned Lexus LS and LC. This version, according to the Japanese publication, will add a ladder frame to the architecture for the added strength a true off-roader would need.
The Japanese report claims that the new 300-generation Land Cruiser will be roughly the same length and width as the current 200 Series, but a bit shorter — just shy of 6’2″ tall, compared with the 6’5″–6’6″ roofline of the model on sale today. Combined with a slight stretch in wheelbase, those massaged proportions could make the next Land Crusher look less top-heavy…and, hopefully, help it better navigate parking garages when equipped with a roof rack.
Of course, this is all simply rumor at this point — a detailed rumor, sure, but nothing less. Still, given the Land Cruiser’s age (the existing model has been around since 2007), a big change seems more likely than a little refresh at this point — and with fuel economy standards generally on the rise, a hybrid powertrain seems like an inevitable move, be it for this generation or the next.
And while plenty of traditionalists may complain about such a sea change for the iconic four-wheeler, we advise restraint against judgement; after all, considering that the current, long-in-the-tooth Land Cruiser has seemingly outlived its usefulness — at least, in the overpriced form we Americans get it — maybe it’s time to risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
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