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One of the longest-produced, most widely distributed vehicles in all of automotive history is also one of its most rugged: the Toyota Land Cruiser. With 60 years of continuous production, 14 different model lines and thousands of variations of the Jeep-like sports utility vehicle, the Land Cruiser became a success worldwide and developed a cult following among enthusiasts here in the US.
We'll be the first to admit that tracing the vehicle's lineage from its humble beginnings as a prototype for Japan's National Police Reserve in 1951 to what it is today isn't an easy task, especially when one considers that the types of Land Cruisers produced traditionally have varied from market to market. For example, the Land Cruiser sold in the US is very different from the US-only 40 series Land Cruiser-inspired FJ Cruiser, which is itself different from the Land Cruiser Prado sold in other world markets.
To cover the Land Cruiser's sixty-plus year history from start to present, someone over at Toyota UK was thoughtful enough to devote a plus-size blog post to it. It's worth a read if you have a spare 10 or 15 minutes - and even if you don't, you can check out our historical gallery above. Enjoy!Permalink | Email this | Comments
Toyota just revealed the 2014 Land Cruiser Prado. Here in the US, we don't get this Land Cruiser, except in movies where it nearly kills Batman.
Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
We'd seen leaked images of the the refreshed 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, now Toyota has deemed it officially ready for the European masses it is aimed at. We can only hope the masses are ready for that grille, probably the most intense of the many changes made to the volcano-eating truck. The new face and its "powerfully projecting vertical bars" were designed to "accentuate the new Toyota's rugged appearance," as if the legendarily capable SUV wasn't rugged enough. Other changes include redesigned headlight clusters, stronger character lines along the sides, new taillights and license plate "garnish" in back, and a slew of new wheel choices. Both the three- and five-door are 20 millimeters longer, all of that in the front overhang, but the approach angle apparently hasn't changed.
The new organization of trims runs from Entry to Legend, Prestige and Executive. The interior has been reorganized with better seats in the second and third rows, a new upper center console, a redesigned panel for controlling on- and off-road driving functions, reworked Optitron meters with a 4.2-inch LCD screen, and new switchgear, fabrics and color schemes. Infotainment has been upgraded with Toyota Touch 2 and Toyota Touch 2 with Go. They mirror your smartphone if said phone happens to be either a Samsung Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 2.
On-road driving dynamics have been improve with suspension changes, and a Rear Cross Traffic Alert added to the suite of safety features for maneuvering the beast. When it comes to the Land Cruiser's real reason for being, the five Multi-terrain Select choices and five-step Crawl Control are more easily used with a Multi-terrain Monitor reworked for more clarity.
There are a bunch more details in the video and lengthy press release below, and the huge gallery of high-res shots above to put images to words. And, if you live in the States, check out the details of the closely related Lexus GX here.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Toyota sold 121,055 Highlander CUVs in 2012, according to Automotive News. By comparison, it sold 78,457 examples of four different body-on-frame, truck-based SUVs (4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia and Land Cruiser). One could argue then, that the traditional SUVs aren't pulling their weight from a sales perspective. Yet that isn't stopping Toyota from reaffirming its commitment to a segment that has seen its former champions - Ford, General Motors and Chrysler - abandon it with alarming speed. Ford and GM still offer body-on frame utilities, but only in the very largest offerings, catering to seven or even eight passengers. Everything outside of the Expedition or Tahoe rides now on a unibody.
Toyota's decision to stick with the technology is good news if you're in the market for smaller SUVs that are still capable of heading well off the beaten path. Outside of the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee (a unibody) and perhaps Nissan Xterra, there's not much in terms of capable SUVs between $20,000 and $50,000. As the Toyota brand's US head, Bill Fay, says, "Clearly, the trend has shifted, but there is still an owner base that is interested in these vehicles."
We don't doubt Fay on that, but it may also be somewhat telling that Toyota's SUV lineup is aging, and we haven't seen or heard much about replacement models in the pipeline. Admittedly, the 4Runner (pictured) has been facelifted for 2014, but it's mostly cosmetic in nature. Despite Toyota's posturing, we still expect its body-on-frame lineup to thin in the coming years as sales dwindle and escalating fuel-economy standards make business cases even tougher. Here's hoping that Toyota manages to keep at least one rough-and-tumble SUV in its lineup in the coming years.
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What would you do if a wild animal jumped into your vehicle through an open window during an African safari? What if said animal was an impala being chased by cheetahs? Though the scenario seems unbelievable, that's just what happened to a group of tourists in Kruger National Park in South Africa, and it was all caught on video.
With the tour groups stopped, a motorist with a video camera handy happens to catch the unlikely sight of a herd of impalas (not that kind of Impala) jumping over the tarmac while being followed, quickly of course, by two cheetahs. The feline predators thought they had cornered one impala and were closing in for the kill when it jumped through the open window of a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado - South Africa's version of the Lexus GX. Fortunately for the occupants of said vehicle, the cheetahs did not follow.
A short while later, one of the occupants in the Toyota fearlessly opens a door to let the poor animal out. It must have been its lucky day, because the cheetahs didn't take pursuit. Check out the circle life get interrupted by this traffic jam in the video below.Permalink | Email this | Comments