Toyota's New Land Cruiser: It Is a Motoring Icon, Standing for Strength, Reliability and Formidable Off-Road Capabilities. Now Toyota Is Taking the Land Cruiser into the New Millennium with Fresh Premium Models. (Wheels)
Williams, Stephen, African Business
In over 50 years of production, Toyota's Land Cruiser has achieved world-wide sales approaching four million vehicles. The new Land Cruiser Series 100 is the 11th generation of the SUV model which has blazed a trail throughout Africa by providing legendary reliability, build quality and strength.
It's odd to think that half a century ago, the idea of a vehicle that combined off-road four-wheel drive capabilities with the on-road manners of a passenger vehicle was barely considered.
True, the Jeep and Land Rover were both off-road masters but neither manufacturers paid much attention to performance, or passenger comfort, on tarmac. It even took Toyota a while to recognise that there was a market for such a vehicle. The first generation Land Cruiser was unashamedly utilitarian, a canvas roofed soft-top derived from its SB-type truck and designed primarily for military use. Amongst its first customers were the Japanese police force and the US Army Procurement Agency in Japan.
The Land Cruiser was the first Toyota vehicle to be exported from Japan, and the early models quickly developed a loyal following around the world. This loyalty was gained simply because no other vehicle could offer such capabilities while matching the Land Cruiser for price. So in 1959, Toyota made a bold decision: to set up a production line outside Japan, in Brazil, to build a slightly modified version for the South American market.
Starting with a shipment of a dozen standard FJ45 pick-ups, imported in 1971, Toyota has built a formidable presence in South Africa. Since that date, Toyota have notched up no less than 33,000 Land Cruiser sales in South Africa. It was later to set up an assembly line in the country, starting with the 40 Series (left) through to the 70 Series when that appeared in 1986.
SERIES 100 ROLL-OUT
Over the years, Toyota engineers have developed not just the Toyota's Land Cruisers' general off-road capabilities, but also designed an attractive SUV that can capture a reasonable percentage of the executive car market.
Following the new Land Cruiser Series 100 roll-out in Japan, Europe and the USA, other territories will gradually see the new model being offered, with only minor variations to its specification.
The new-look Land Cruiser Series 100 builds on the success of the model introduced in 1998, with a number improved electronic traction, stability and braking controls - including a world first - a hill-start assist control. This not only controls wheel-spin when attempting an uphill start on a slippery surface, but also detects if the vehicle is starting to slip backwards down the slope.
Detail improvements to the styling and specification of the both the GX and VX models are of a subtly more modern appearance. Distinguishing elements of this are an improvement to the aerodynamic qualities of the body shape, a new front and rear tail light cluster design, new front grille design and a revised front bumper. Substantial improvements have also been made to noise reduction and ride quality.
At the GX specification level, (more workhorse oriented) the Land Cruiser 100 gains modified driver and passenger airbags, new design 4-spoke urethane steering wheel and chromed power side mirrors. Seating is now provided for eight in a 2/3/3 configuration, each occupant equipped with three-point seat-belt and headrest. An ingenious 'one touch tumble' function allows all second seats to be folded forward using just one hand.
THE LUXURY END
The luxury specification Land Cruiser 100 VX with its choice of either petrol V8 or six cylinder 24 valve turbo diesel engines, already at the top end of the luxury spectrum, gains significant improvements. …