Grand Gazoo on the cards as Toyota throws GR at almost everything.
In the market for go-faster off-road SUVs, Toyota is conspicuous by its absence.
Although the Japanese brand dominates in most SUV product categories, it does not market high-performance variants of its SUVs. This is peculiar because Toyota has always displayed superior marketing awareness and must be aware of the attractive profit margins being achieved by German brands and JLR, with their high-performance SUVs.
The ladder-frame platforms used by most of Toyota’s SUVs might explain its reluctance. More powerful engines in any of the Land Cruiser stations wagons would require even larger brakes and much better active suspension, to prevent bodyroll during high-speed cornering.
That aside, the market for an off-road bias high-performance version, is definitely there. As Toyota shows greater willingness to develop more GR derivatives of its core models, the question of a more potent Land Cruiser luxury station wagon becomes real.
With the Land Cruiser 300 delayed until 2021, it has given Toyota’s engineers time to investigate and propose new developments for the king of ‘Cruisers. One of these will most likely include a GR derivative.
The current Land Cruiser has been around since 2007, presenting many real challenges regarding its adaptability to the latest powertrain and platform technologies. With Toyota’s all-new 300 series ‘Cruiser, there is a much greater possibility of integrating trick adaptable suspension and superior drivetrain bits.
Rumours of a more potent next-generation Land Cruiser have sourced from Down Under. Australia is an enormous Land Cruiser 200 market and there has been a surge in demand, as Covid-19 has forced Australians to remain home and explore domestic attractions, instead of travelling overseas.
Toyota has recognised that an adequate number of Land Cruiser 200 owners desire a more striking appearance, better off-road ability and a lot more power. Those are all three elements that are very much in the formulation of Toyota’s GR-specification product philosophy.
With the Land Cruiser 300 providing a better platform to anchor more powerful engines and responsive suspension components, the vision of a high-performance factory Land Cruiser would be entirely possible.
It is also a clever product strategy. Mercedes-Benz and JLR don’t prioritize off-road ability when marketing high-performance versions of their SUVs, and that is the gap Toyota has clearly identified in the luxury off-road vehicle market.