TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota (7203.T) on Wednesday unveiled the first hybrid version of its Land Cruiser that it will bring to North America and other key markets as it seeks to put a high-margin and iconic sports utility vehicle back on the map. The world’s biggest automaker by sales said it would produce the new model of the brand that traces its roots to 1951 as well as a smaller, newly released variant at two factories in Japan and ship them overseas from there.
The new model will be powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid that produces 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. That may not sound like a lot, but the combination of power and fuel efficiency should be enough to make a difference in an SUV class that’s known for burning through cans of gas. Moreover, it will be more fuel efficient than the last Land Cruiser, which returned 13 mpg city and 17 highway.
Toyota says it re-engineered the 2024 Land Cruiser to appeal to longtime fans and introduce the brand’s legendary capability and durability to a new generation of drivers. The company also aims to bring the vehicle more in line with its price tag, which is expected to start at around $55,000. That is almost half of the previous model’s cost in the United States when it debuted for the 2021 model year.
The Land Cruiser will be narrower and shorter than its predecessor, with a 4.4-inch longer wheelbase. It will also have a more prominent grille and a more rugged appearance. Toyota also adds a more aggressive “GR trim” with different bodywork, a metal skid plate, and other off-road-oriented features.
Toyota has spruced up the interior with a new dashboard that looks slimmer and a car-like steering wheel. The infotainment system has been updated with a floating widescreen display and an easier-to-use interface. There is also more storage space and a neater floor console. Toyota has resisted making the Land Cruiser look like an FJ40 but used retro cues to keep fans happy. For instance, the round headlights are a nod to the old SUV.
The Land Cruiser will go on sale next spring and is expected to arrive at dealerships nationwide with a promise of “taking customers on adventures across the globe as it has for generations.” Toyota has not released a price yet, but expect it to undercut the competition before factoring in dealer markups. The Land Cruiser will be built at Toyota’s Tahara and Hino plants in Japan. It will be sold in more than 120 countries worldwide. The company will also offer a more upscale version that will be sold in select markets, including the U.S., as the Toyota Land Cruiser GR. The company will release details on that vehicle later this year. Toyota is also considering a plug-in electric version of the Land Cruiser.