Toyota Land Cruiser, a synonymous name with car enthusiasts, JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) enthusiasts, the wealthy people of India & obviously the Arab nationals. This nameplate is there in the world since 1951 and has been into, when the Jeep CJ-B, Ford GPW & Mercedes Unimog and the Rolls Royce commissioned by Lawrence of Arabia to travel to deserts and other high-altitude terrains were the only known off roaders. Toyota decided to play its cards in the all-terrain car range. Hence the BJ & FJ series was born
Powered by a 3.4 litre inline-six petrol engine, it produced 84 bhp & 215 NM of torque. The next year, Toyota introduced a much bigger & better 3.9 litre inline-six engine producing 125 bhp this time. With this, the Land Cruiser name was also used for the first time by Toyota. Earlier From 1934 to 54, Studebaker used the Land Cruiser nameplate for one of their cars. The idea of using the Land Cruiser suffix for their 4×4 came from the Land Rover company in Britain. Hence the suggestion by Toyota’s then technical director Hanji Umehara gave birth to one of the longest running nameplates in the history of Automobiles.
Within the passage of time & generations, Toyota made the Land Cruiser more versatile yet capable to conquer any terrain without any fear and failure. The reliability the Land Cruisers were blessed with made sure that it remained the most successful car and cemented Toyota’s reputation of building highly capable cars. People from the Gulf countries mainly trust the Land Cruiser for their desert expeditions, thanks to its reliability.
In 1995, Lexus (Toyota’s luxury division) introduced the LX. Based on the J80 generation Land Cruiser, this model was sold in markets like the US, Canada & the Gulf countries in order to compete with the luxury SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban & Yukon (earlier Suburban) & Ford Expedition. The LX450 (as it was known) was a more luxurious version of the J80 Land Cruiser. Features like Leather seats, telephone (also seen in some sedans of that price range at the time) made it a trump card. A product of efforts to avoid tariffs on Japanese vehicles by USA (which gave birth to Sub brands like Acura & Kia), the LX450 was an instant hit among SUV buyers in North America.
The next generation, the J100 Land Cruiser and LX were more modern looking than the J80 and the previous models. Infact the LX, now renamed as the LX470 was a fan favorite among Indian celebrities. The Land Cruiser got more into mainstream when our very own bhai, Salman Khan allegedly ran the LC over some footpath dwellers. Most famous owners include Amitabh Bachchan, Sushmita Sen, Sanjay Dutt (all of them opted for the more luxurious Lexus). The Land Cruiser was also brought by rich people. Most of them opted for the 4.7Litre V8 option (a first for the Land Cruiser & LX). Still a few bought the 4.2 turbocharged diesel motor. The J100 generation still has a cult following among enthusiast. A more prominent example being Dulquer Salmaan, the famous South Indian actor who owns 3 of these Land Cruisers (his father Mammootty having owned both J80 and the J200 LC).
The J200 Land Cruiser was the first Land Cruiser ever to be exclusively available in India in 2010. Launched in 2007, the J200 came a bit late in India in order to compete with the Audi Q7, Mercedes GL Class & the Volvo XC90. It was relatively cheaper, reliable & more off road capable than its rivals. For the first time, a diesel V8 was available in form of a 4.5litre 268 bhp monster. Already tasting success with the Fortuner, Toyota gained more popularity thanks to the Land Cruiser and its smaller sibling, the Land Cruiser Prado. The Prado was also launched in 2004 and remained true to the Land Cruiser name and sold in reasonably good numbers.
Even though the Land cruiser is discontinued in India courtesy of the BS6 norms, one can still get these beasts from the second-hand markets. Still one can find them reliable and capable enough to tackle any unwanted situation on road.
Since the discontinuation, it has been rumored that the next generation of Land Cruiser may be a plug-in hybrid. Hopefully Toyota make sure that the next gen still has a good off-road capability. Because it’s a Land Cruiser baby.