It’s almost eerie how similar this week’s Toyota’s Land Cruiser launch has mirrored Nissan’s Z NISMO launch. Both made a big splash with the global announcement for an iconic nameplate, both had stylistic nods to heritage, and both then quietly released what is arguably the best variant for Japan. In the case of the Land Cruiser, that option is the revival of the 70-series Land Cruiser in Japan.
The J250 Land Cruiser unveiled this week was, for Americans, a back-to-basics revival of the Land Cruiser name, which had gotten too big, too luxurious, and too pricey for its market. But the J70 gets even closer the original Land Cruiser’s essence. The J250 cuts back on the opulence; the J70 is even more spartan. The J250 is shorter and narrower than the J200; the J70 can squeeze through even tighter trails. The J250 has a forced induction hybrid drivetrain; the J70 is pure turbodiesel, baby. The J250 wears old school styling; the J70 is old school with an architecture dating back to 1984.
This is actually the second time Toyota has brought back the 70-series to Japan. After its 1984 introduction, it left the Japanese market in 2004, though it continued to be sold in markets such as Australia. In 2014 Toyota briefly revived it, but had to put it out to pasture again 12 months later due to new Japanese laws requiring standard traction control on all new cars starting in 2015.
The 2014 version came with one powertrain, a 4.0-liter V6 and 5-speed manual. This time around power comes from a 2.8-liter turbocharged 1GD pumping out 201 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. For a 4×4, an AT isn’t as egregious as it is on a sports car like the Z, as many off-roaders prefer the low-speed crawl that an automatic can provide in hairy situations. In any case, an 8-speed automatic is the only transmission choice.
The updated 70-series offers even more modern conveniences, some of which have since been mandated by Japanese law. It includes a version of Toyota Safety Sense, which includes dynamic cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and lane keep assist. It’s almost a bit weird having a dash so clearly designed in the 80s packed with a tiny touchscreen and all those advanced safety features.
Upgraded headlights, a chunkier hood with throwback trough running down the center, and reshaped bumper are among the major visual changes on the 70. When taken together with the J250 and J300, the family resemblance becomes obvious. It makes for quite an impressive family portrait. Sadly, as you may have already guessed, the LC70 isn’t coming to the US. However, when it goes on sale in Japan in 2024 it will mark the 40th anniversary of the 70-series itself, a very impressive run for a single generation.
Images courtesy of Toyota.