Hidden beneath this anti-photography burqa is a nearly production-ready 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, captured in the wild near Toyota’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif. The overall shape is the same as the recently unveiled Lexus LX 570, yet the nose is clearly sporting a Toyota badge. While it’s hard to see through the camouflage, it appears as though the next Land Cruiser will more closely resemble the rest of Toyota’s truck family, with a distinctly Tundra-like nose barely visible behind the translucent white cloth on the front.
The rear of the car we spied is a dead ringer – at least in silhouette – for the Lexus LX 570 that was shown at this year’s New York Auto Show, however Toyota’s testers did their best to cover everything up, including using remote-mounted taillights to hide the actual shape of the production ones. Additionally, although it’s hard to see here, our spy photographer tells us that the LX 570’s flared rear haunches appeared to be duplicated on this vehicle as well, indicating that it’s more likely to be a Land Cruiser than the anticipated Tundra-based Sequioa.
The Land Cruiser is an odd bird in Toyota’s lineup. In the U.S., it’s considered a higher-end luxury SUV, one with a die-hard cadre of fans willing to overlook the fact that it’s lost a good amount of its trail cred as it’s gotten more luxurious and heavier. In many parts of the world, however, the Land Cruiser is still a basic hard-core off-road vehicle, substantially decontented, and significantly better in bad conditions. With the larger Sequioa less expensive, and the slightly smaller 4Runner more capable off road, the U.S. Land Cruiser doesn’t add a lot to Toyota’s bottom line, but as such a part of the company’s heritage, it’s hard to imagine Toyota not having it in the lineup.
The Land Cruiser’s competition is as varied as the terrain it can tackle. On one end are big GM SUVs, such as the Chevy Tahoe. With a significantly upgraded interior, structure and design, plus a distinct size and price advantage, the Tahoe is a tough competitor for the Land Cruiser. Equip it with the Z71 off road package, and it’s a very capable off roader.
On the other end of the spectrum are vehicles like Land Roverï¿½s LR3. Competitive in both price, capability and some would say cachet, the next Land Cruiser will offer a significant advantage in horsepower if motivated by the Tundraï¿½s 5.7-liter V8 as expected. Additionally, although the company would never admit it, another competitor is the Lexus LX 570. The price difference between the two is not significant, and both are comparably equipped, although the Lexus version tends to have nicer leather, real wood and the other bits youï¿½d expect of the ï¿½Lï¿½ brand.