Hold on tight, traditionalists: The next Toyota Land Cruiser might be a hybrid

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 200. Image: Motorpress
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 200. Image: Motorpress

Toyota's iconic Land Cruiser 200-series leverages a lot of its reputation on having a V8 engine. 

Without doubt, the Landy 200 is the most respected luxury off-road vehicle in production.

Its 4.5-litre turbodiesel has a reputation for absolute reliability, and it produces the torque required to conquer even the most testing off-road obstacles.

The 650Nm of torque, available at relatively low engine speeds, definitely adds to the 'all conquering' abilities. 

The 4.5-litre V8 is perfect for its intended purpose, but it does have one weakness: a rather large emissions signature.

And in a world where escalating emissions regulations are forcing a change in powertrain design, not even the Land Cruiser 200 can escape this future reality. 

Would you be interested in a hybrid Toyota Land Cruiser, or would it lose its significance without the V8 engine? Email us.

Toyota Land Cruiser 200

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 200. Image: Motorpress

The move from eight to six

Most of the world's V8-powered SUVs will lose two-cylinders soon. German manufacturers are already prioritizing their new-generation of six-cylinder hybridized powertrains as being equal in performance, and superior, in all other ways, to the V8s they are scheduled to replace. 

For Toyota, that means a new engine development project to power the next-generation luxury Land Cruiser. But what are the options, and how will they influence the ability and standing of this highly regarded off-roader?

Details are scarce ahead of the official Land Cruiser 300 reveal - scheduled for July - but significant powertrain changes are expected. Toyota's future luxury Land Cruiser is forecast to be powered by a choice of 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 engines, none of which is expected to be diesel. 

WATCH: This Toyota fan loves the Land Cruiser 200 so much, he carved it out of wood

Although traditional followers of the 200-series might initially be disappointed, Toyota won't risk underdelivering on its most expensive product range. 

One of the advantages these smaller six-cylinder engines will have is less mass over the front axle. This will make the Land Cruiser 300-series more agile in daily driving and minimise brake-induced nosediving. 

In testing off-road terrain, these lighter six-cylinder engines will also reduce the potential of overwhelming the front suspension travel, especially when descending very technical terrain.

Toyota Land Cruiser 200

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 200. Image: Motorpress

The towing issue

Negatives? Power won't be one of those. The current 4.5-litre V8 turbodiesel is good for 195kW and 650Nm, which are sedate outputs for an engine of its size and very much a legacy of the Land Cruiser's mid-2000s development history. 

With all the latest turbocharging and direct-injection technology, Toyota should easily match or slightly exceed those V8 engine output numbers with its new V6s. One of the rumoured engine options is a potent hybridized option. 

Adding battery power will deliver impressive low-speed torque, which is great for crawling over obstacles, but there could be cooling issues. This is even more important for the Land Cruiser's tow rating, which has always been one of its most significant features. 

Large capacity engines make for good towing vehicles because they can run at required power, without risking a surge in heat build-up. Hybridized vehicles have proven problematic for hardcore towing, as the batteries and electric motors are not designed to be under sustained strain for long periods - unlike a pure electric vehicle drivetrain.

Toyota has a proven track record of hybrid technology with its Prius and many Lexus SUVs. As such, Land Cruiser fans should not be too troubled, but the 300-series will be a more significant advancement in terms of technology than experienced between the 100VX and current 200-series. 

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Toyota Land Cruiser 200
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser 200. Image: Motorpress

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