If you've been waiting for the new generation Land Cruiser from Toyota, well you're in luck. We've learned from our contacts that Toyota will launch the all-new LC 300 in just a few months; actually, their plan (if the ECQ or other quarantine issues don't push it back) is for retail sales to start on October 1, 2021.
That is actually very much a surprise to us because it often takes a long period of time between the world premiere and the Philippine launch. Six months to a year (or even longer) is normal but for the LC it will be less than four; the world premiere happened only 2 months ago in the Middle East.
We were sent the Philippine-spec variants, features (pending final verification), schedules, colors, and the prices of the new Toyota LC 300 about a month ago but we opted not to go for it right away. We thought we'd lay it out all the specs next to the current model Land Cruiser 200 that has been around since 2008. That way we can compare the new variants directly to the variants that will be succeeded.
For the LC 200, there are two distinct variants: the LC 200 VX Premium and the LC 200 VX. Basically, both are mechanically the same but one has more features than the other. For the LC 300, there will also be two distinct variants: the LC 300 ZX and the LC 300 VX. The 2021 ZX will effectively succeed the 2020 LC 200 VX Premium while the LC 300 VX will be the replacement of the 2020 LC200 VX.
To avoid confusion, the 2020 LC200 variants are in the gray columns while the 2021 LC300 variants are in blue.
Let's start with the engines. There is only one engine available for the LC 200 now: the 4.5-liter V8 twin-turbo diesel. There is no gasoline V8 anymore because diesel is really where it's at in the Philippine market. That's why Toyota only opted for one engine option as well for the 2021 LC 300.
With 309 PS and 700 Nm, the new twin-turbo engine is significantly more powerful and torquier than the current LC 200 engine which has 232 PS and 615 Nm. But the difference is that Toyota is achieving those improved figures from a much smaller engine. Being a V6, the Philippine-spec LC 300 has two fewer cylinders than the LC 200. And at 3.3L, Toyota was also able to drop the engine displacement by 1.2-liters.
They are achieving much more with so much less thanks to technology (new turbos, among many others) and they also fitted the LC 300 with a much better gearbox. Instead of a 6-speed automatic, the LC 300 will have a 10-speed automatic. And as before, only 4x4 is available. Imagine the uproar if there's a modern LC with rear-wheel drive only.
In terms of dimensions, we're actually splitting hairs quite a bit. The width and height are the same, as only the lengths are changing. Surprisingly the 2020 VX Premium is longer by 40mm versus the 2021 ZX, but that's probably mostly just the bumper extension on the Premium. The story is different for the 2020 VX versus the 2021 VX, as the latter is 20mm longer; not a big deal.
What is a big deal is the extended wheelbase. At 2900mm, the 2021 model has 50mm (about 2 inches) over the 2850mm of the 2020 LC 200. This should make a big alteration to the ride comfort and stability of the LC 300 at higher speeds. There is also an extra 5mm in ground clearance, but we need to confirm that too.
What is certain is that the LC 300 is a 7-seater; the LC 200 is an 8-seater. We're not quite sure if that matters much because, well, we don't expect an LC to be fully occupied often.
Looking at the mechanical specs, it's easy to see some differences. The suspension looks largely the same, as do the brakes and the wheels (apart from the 20” wheels for the LC 300 ZX), but there are some things that need to be pointed out. For starters the spec sheet of the LC 200 says it has the KDSS which is Toyota's proprietary system that disconnects the stabilizers to allow for greater articulation and suspension travel; ask any off-roader and they'll say that more articulation is always better.
But the 2021 model doesn't seem to have it. That's actually something we need to confirm because the LC 300 does debut the newer E-KDSS, but for some reason, it wasn't mentioned in the spec sheet we received. We expect it to be there, but we need to confirm that closer to the launch date.
We can tell that there are some new features like the adaptive suspension (for better handling) and the variable power steering, but there are some things that aren't actually mentioned or needs more elaboration beyond looking just at the spec sheet. For one, the suspension geometry is actually heavily revised even though it may seem the same. The spec sheet also doesn't mention the drop in weight from the new TNGA-F body-on-frame platform; Toyota says the 2021 model is 200 kg lighter just by the frame alone.
The exterior is also unique between the two year models. Like before, the bumper design of the high-grade model will be different from the standard grade models. For the new 2021 LC 300, Toyota refers to the bumper as the aero look. The rear pintle hook for towing is still standard on all variants.
Looking at the spec sheet we're seeing some differences but not really a lot. There are new adjustment functions on the mirrors, new functions for the wipers, so on and so forth. The moonroof is still a high-grade model exclusive along with new sequential LED signals (front and rear for ZX and front only for VX). The ZX also gets a new illuminated step board.
What's notable is that we won't be getting the GR variant with all the black bits and pieces and sportier appeal. That could change later on.
There are a lot of differences with the interior and features of the LC 300. The most obvious changes include a new 12.3” main screen which finally gets Apple Carplay and Android Auto. We also like that Toyota opted for a 14-speaker JBL package for the ZX. Even the 2021 VX has a 10-speaker system which outclasses the 6-speaker package in both 2020 models.
There are many features like the wireless charging pad and a 220-volt socket; both are for the ZX only. Instead of a lever handbrake, the LC 300 has an EPB or electronic parking brake. There is even a heads-up display for the ZX; we're excited to try that out.
But what we like the most is the revisions made to the third row. Instead of a fold-up system that Toyota has stuck with for the LC, the Prado, and the Fortuner, Toyota finally went to work on a fold-flat third row for the LC 300.
The big difference is in safety features. We were quite surprised that the 2020 LC 200 VX non-Premium didn't have things like stability control and traction control, but that has all been addressed in the 2021 LC 300 VX. Both the 2021 VX and ZX have Toyota Safety Sense, but the ZX has a few more advanced features.
The 2020 model had four color options: White Pearl Crystal Shine (PHP 15,000 option), Silver Metallic, Gray Metallic, and Attitude Black Mica. For the 2021 model, they expanded the color options by 1: Precious White Pearl for the ZX while White Pearl Crystal Shine is only for the VX. Both color options are still a PHP 15,000 extra.
For the interior, Toyota is only offering black. There are no options for brown leather or cream. This is a Land Cruiser, and Toyota tends to be very conservative with it so we can't really expect non-grayscale exterior colors (or just cooler colors) like blue, red, or even just maroon.
In terms of pricing, we were surprised that the pricing won't change that much. Yes, a PHP 554,000 to 657,000 difference may seem like a lot to many of us, but we don't think that's too big a difference to LC customers. It's also important to note that because the engine size is above 3000cc, the LC 300 benefits from JPEPA, meaning it has an import duty advantage.
There you have it. We expect the LC 300 to be a very sought-after unit in the Philippine market, so much so that there are already long queues at dealerships. Right now we know that there are gray market importers that are looking to bring in some units from the Middle East (the LC's key market) before it gets sold by Toyota Motor Philippines. That's probably why Toyota (global) wants to discourage re-selling and re-importing the LC.