Toyota Land Cruiser celebrates its U.S. heritage
Building a lasting legacy is much like going off-road -- it's all about overcoming obstacles. Toyota's Land Cruiser has tackled both.
While the Land Cruiser is a revered rig today, it wasn't always that way. The trail warrior first went on sale here in the States back in 1958, but the reception wasn't overwhelming. Just a single Land Cruiser was sold.
Still, Toyota stuck with it and, slowly but surely, the vehicle proved its motoring mettle, becoming a favorite of adventure seekers from coast to coast. The strong love isn't isolated; there have been more than 10 million Land Cruisers sold to customers around the globe.
After that initial introduction of the 20 Series, the Land Cruiser FJ40 (40 Series) was released in 1960, featuring angular new styling, a snazzy white roof and wraparound rear windows. Power came from an inline six-cylinder engine producing 125 horsepower and 200 foot-pounds of torque. It was the first Land Cruiser to be equipped with a two-speed transfer case, greatly improving its backwoods capabilities.
In 1967, a 55 Series wagon model was introduced, joining the FJ40, in response to carrying needs of larger families and outdoor enthusiasts who longed for more space. This new model added 16 inches to the wheelbase and added an improved 3.9-liter inline six-cylinder. Space wasn't the only thing increasing. Global demand kept climbing, too. In 1968, the brand celebrated building its 100,000th Land Cruiser with sales hitting 300,000 in 1973.
The FJ60 (60 Series) wagon arrived in 1980, rocking more comfort but still sporting the rugged capability the model was now known for. The year would also be marked by the 1 millionth Land Cruiser rolling off the line. In 1983, the FJ40 was retired but Land Cruiser sales in the U.S. soldiered on until the 80 Series debuted as the 1990s dawned.
The trucklike SUV boasted coil springs in the front suspension, full-time four-wheel drive and a locking center differential. By now, creature comforts were becoming the norm, too. Leather-trim seats, air conditioning and upgraded amenities were all items customers soon wanted and expected.
In 1998, a 100 Series arrived, followed by a 120 Series in 2003 and finally a 200 Series in 2008. All along the journey, the model has been ready for rough going while also staying refined, delivering a high level of premium luxury motoring.
With such a storied past, Toyota is honoring its flagship SUV's continued presence in the U.S. market by releasing a 2020 Heritage Edition. The limited-edition package comes in either Midnight Black Metallic or Blizzard Pearl, highlighted with bronze-colored forged aluminum wheels and wicked cool retro badges. Under the hood is a 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8.
When the going gets tough, there are off-road systems like Crawl Control, Multi-terrain Select and a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System to aid drivers. Inside, the cabin will come with black leather and features four-zone automatic climate control and a refrigerated compartment inside the center console.
Production figures haven't been released but pricing for the vehicle will start at $87,645.
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