An $85K full-size SUV with real-world off-road chops built around a comfortable and luxurious cabin, the modern Toyota Land Cruiser is a contradiction on four wheels, but an ever-intriguing one. Toyota has made it even more intriguing at the 2016 SEMA Show, adding world record-level performance with two turbos spiking the output of the 5.7-liter V8 to an insane 2,000 hp. Estimated top speed: 220 mph (354 km/h).
To put the new Land Speed Cruiser in perspective, if it were a road car and not a SEMA concept SUV, it'd land at the #7 spot of our "fastest of 2016" list, between the 217-mph (349 km/h) Lamborghini Centenario and 221-mph (356 km/h) Rimac Concept One – not bad for a big, blocky 4x4 that carries eight people in production spec.
Engineers from Toyota's motorsports technical center have flipped the script on the Land Cruiser, making it a low, ultra-powerful street rocket instead of a high-clearance off-road rambler. A literal out-of-body experience, the process involved carefully removing the body shell before heavily modifying virtually everything below, including lowering the ride height, narrowing the tracks and adding an ATI transmission to handle all the power from the Toyota 3UR-FE 5.7-liter V8 with dual Garrett turbochargers. A custom hood gives those volleyball-sized turbos breathing room.
"From the outside, the Land Speed Cruiser appears quite normal, quite subtle," says Toyota motorsports technical center manager Chuck Wade. "This is what makes it so special. Every single system and component has been touched. The trick is getting the body back onto the heavily modified frame."
It doesn't look quite "normal" from our vantage point, as the lowered height gives it a much sportier, more urban look, but it certainly doesn't look like a 2,000-hp world speed machine. It's about as incognito as the 850-hp Sleeper Camry Toyota debuted at SEMA two years ago.
We'd like to see Toyota put its money where its mouth before we get too excited about that 220 mph figure or declare the Land Speed Cruiser the fastest sport utility vehicle to ever roam the earth. For now (and maybe always), we'll just have to settle for Toyota's estimate, though. The video below shows the SEMA show truck accelerating up past 160 mph (258 km/h), but no 220-mph run.
Toyota's press release does say that the new super-Cruiser "will write a new chapter in the SUV's history book," so maybe it really will focus all that power on setting an official or unofficial record. Or maybe that's pure marketing speak and we'll hear as much about the Land Speed Cruiser in the coming weeks as we've heard about crazy cars of SEMA Shows past following their debuts (absolutely nothing).
Whether it shows up again in the future or not, the Land Speed Cruiser can be seen on display at SEMA next to a regular 2017 Land Cruiser, a first-gen 1961 Land Cruiser and a variety of other custom Toyota creations.