The Land Cruiser has been one of Toyota’s signature SUVs for over 60 years. The trusted machine is well equipped to handle the rigors of harsh climate, rugged terrain, and the family’s baseball practice, swim meet, “hurry we’re going to be late” type of schedule.
For the latter, Toyota’s Land Speed Cruiser might be the ticket. The 2,000 horsepower beast recently clocked in at over 230 mph with former Toyota NASCAR driver Carl Edwards at the wheel. The feat was enough to earn the Land Speed Cruiser the “World’s Fastest SUV” title.
The Land Speed Cruiser, which debuted at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, was originally a factory Land Cruise – that is until a team of ambitious engineers at Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center (MTC) got their hands on it. Toyota was looking to break the previous record of 211 mph and did so handily; a GPS-verified and video-documented 230.02 mph registered before the vehicle ran out of pavement.
What’s scary is had there been more cement, the Land Speed Cruiser would have gone faster. According to MTC Manager, Chuck Wade, Toyota’s principal was to simply make an ultra-powerful Land Cruiser and see how fast they could make it go.
“This was an aspirational goal that inspired us all,” added Steve Appelbaum, National Engagement Marketing Manager, Toyota Motor Sales.
Power & Performance
The Land Cruiser’s production 5.7-liter 3UR-FE V8 engine provided an excellent baseline for the MTC team. Volley-ball sized Garrett turbochargers were added, generating up to 55 PSI of boost. To handle the additional force, a more robust piston and rod setup was employed, along with a specifically fabricated intake manifold. A custom racing transmission relayed the 2,000 horses to the ground.
Toyota says building the engine was the easy part, whereas the aerodynamics and overall stability were the challenges. To handle such high speeds, MTC lowered the Land Speed Cruiser to mitigate turbulent air under the vehicle. The frame was reworked to better accommodate the suspension geometry, and was narrowed by three inches to fit the wider Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
Toyota’s Arizona Proving Ground (TAPG) provided the team an optimal place to develop the high-speed SUV. In order to break the record – both effectively and safely – everything needed to be perfect for Edwards.
“I wanted the Land Speed Cruiser to provide the confidence you need, as a driver, to keep pushing even when the world around you becomes a high speed blur,” said Craig Stanton, Toyota Test Driver.
Ignition & Lift Off
Edwards met the MTC team at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. The locale features a two-and-a-half-mile runway, ideally suited for something of this magnitude. On the first run, Stanton had the go and hit 198 mph, an impressive number in its own right. Edwards jumped in and cracked 200, but found himself short on pavement stopping the beast.
“We made some setup adjustments, and it not only accelerates and shifts more smoothly, but it also enhanced stability,” Stanton said.
Edwards then pulled out all the stops (literally) and pushed the Land Speed Cruiser to its 230 mph record.
“At 225 mph, the thing was wandering a little bit,” he recalled. “All I could think was that Craig said, ‘No matter what, just keep your foot in it,’ and we got 230 mph.”
It’s not likely this muscled-up Land Cruiser will appear at the local Toyota dealership – and if it does, I will see you down there as I am buying one. Still, impressive machines like this derive much of their uniqueness from the everyday vehicles we drive. The “normal” Toyota Land Cruiser provided the essential foundation for this super powerful one – and if you have a Land Cruiser, that’s a pretty cool thought. It would make me smile knowing that as I drove the kids to the mall, picked my wife up from her hair appointment, and loaded the groceries.
“We achieved success by employing the kind of innovative solutions and unyielding determination that have long represented the core of Toyota’s soul,” Appelbaum said.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.