History of the Toyota Land Cruiser

From its humble beginnings in 1950 as a development project based on the design of the Willys Jeep, the Land Cruiser has taken its rightful place as Toyota's flagship four-wheel drive vehicle. All dates are Toyota model year, and not necessarily the year in which the model was released.

1950

Development for the Model BJ prototype begins in Japan.

1951

When the Land Cruiser (then named "Model BJ") was first tested in August 1951, it climbed to the sixth station of Mt. Fuji -- the first motor vehicle to perform this feat.  The first orders for the vehicle were from police and forestry departments because of its off-road abilities.  

1954

The BJ was formally named Land Cruiser, and it officially entered mass-production, rather than being built on a made-to-order basis.

1955

The original 85 horsepower diesel engine was replaced with a 125 horsepower F-series 3.8L gasoline unit.

1958

The formal introduction of the Land Cruiser to the U.S.  It was this year that the first hard-top version was introduced.

1961

A pickup and wagon version of the Cruiser were introduced in Japan.

1961 - 1965

Land Cruiser is the best selling Toyota in the U.S.

1965

The Land Cruiser moved toward the mainstream U.S. market with the introduction of the five-door station wagon, the F55.  The wagon was hailed as a vehicle that was competent enough to drive through the back country, yet was comfortable and power enough to drive on any public street.  

1967

Mid year, the U.S. sales introduction of a hardtop version of the two-door.

1968

100,000th Land Cruiser sold worldwide.

1972

200,000th Land Cruiser sold worldwide.

1973

300,000th Land Cruiser sold worldwide.

1975

The 3.8L engine was replaced by a larger and more powerful 4.2L version, making the Land Cruiser easier to drive.  For the home market (Japan), Land Cruiser has almost always been available with a diesel engine -- originally 3.2L, reintroduced a 3.0L in 1976, and updated to 3.2L again in 1979 -- but was never officially available in the U.S.

1980

The 2nd generation station wagon is introduced as the FJ80 and the U.S. Land Cruiser earns the "4x4 of the Year" award by Off-Road magazine.

1981

The 1,000,000th Land Cruiser is sold.

1983

This was the last year of sales for the FJ40 (although production ended in 1979).

1988

Minor updates to the wagon took place in this year.

1990

Consumer's Digest names the Land Cruiser a "Best Buy", and the 2,000,000th Cruiser is sold.

1991

The 3rd generation of the wagon, the FJ80, was a larger, more luxurious vehicle that sported full-time four-wheel-drive and a fully independent four-wheel coil-spring suspension.  It was named one of Consumer Digest's "Best Buys" and the "Best Full-Size SUV in Customer Satisfaction" by J.D. Power & Associates.

1992

"Best Full-Sized Sport Utility" in IQS and CSI, J.D. Power, and among "Best Buys" by Consumers Digest.

1993

The Land Cruiser grows up a little more, now sporting a 24-valve, DOHC inline six-cylinder engine displacing 4.5L.  The Cruiser produced 212 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, and was more capable of pulling Land Cruiser's 5153 pounds of curb weight.

This model of Cruiser was a far cry from the 1953 model, sporting optional leather upholstery, available seating for eight, an available compact-disc player, manually, locking front and rear, and automatic locking center differentials, Land Cruiser was now a shadow of its former self.  This Cruiser was again named "Best Full-Sized Sport Utility" in IQS, J.D. Power, and among "Best Buys" by Consumers Digest magazine.

1994

Changes were minimal (changes have only been made when necessary).  The only change was the addition of CFC-free air-conditioning.  Among Consumers Digest "Best Buys".

1995

In 1995, Land Cruiser took a large step toward additional passenger safety.  With more and more consumers, using their "sport-utility" vehicles as passenger cars, and those consumers looking for vehicles that offer enhanced safety features,  Toyota was ready.  Along with a new grille featuring redesigned headlights, the 1995 Land Cruiser included as standard equipment, both driver and passenger side airbags and adjustable shoulder-belt anchors, and ABS.  These additions did nothing to diminish Land Cruiser's off-the-road abilities, though, and it continues on as the most refined, most capable four-wheel-drive vehicle on the market.

1996

"Best Full-Size SUV in Initial Quality" - J.D. Power

1997

"Luxury SUV Best Buy" - Four Wheeler magazine.  "Best Overall Truck: Resale Value After Three Years of Ownership" - ADP Autosource Survey.  "1997 Top Three Vehicles in Initial Quality-Full-Sized Segment"  -J.D. Power.

1998

Toyota introduced the 5th generation Land Cruiser, the first all new Cruiser since 1991.  The new Cruiser is larger, heavier, structurally more solid and substantially more powerful than its predecessor.  Yet it delivers improved fuel efficiency, lower emissions and considerably quicker, more responsive acceleration.  It also features the first V8 engine in a Toyota Division vehicle. The all new 4.7L 32 valve DOHC produces 230 horsepower, 18 more than its predecessor's inline six-cylinder, and 320 lbs.-ft. of torque, an improvement of 45 over the '97 model.

1999

The recently redesigned Land Cruiser features an independent rear automatic climate control system for added convenience and passenger comfort.  It receives the "Best Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle Segment" award by J.D. Power.

2000

Toyota again raised the benchmark in SUV performance and refinement by adding active traction control (Active TRAC), vehicle skid control equipment (VSC), and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) systems as standard equipment.  The Cruiser also added a six-disc in-dash CD player as standard.

2001

The legendary Land Cruiser has a few new additions.  It features an available navigation system with DVD player, standard auto dimming rear view mirror, and integrated compass in the rear view mirror (on models without the navigation system), JBL three-in-one AM/FM/Cassette/CD six-disc in-dash changer with seven speakers with an available Electro Multi-Vision screen with center console six-disc CD player.

Notes

Land Cruiser:  Land Cruiser is Toyota's flagship four-wheel drive vehicle.  The name implies its go-anywhere ability.

The Land Cruiser is built at the Araco Corporation plant in Toyota City, Japan.

The above information is provided by Toyota Motor Company, Inc.