Toyota Land Speed Cruiser Becomes The World’s Fastest SUV

Ever wonder what it takes to get a big, heavy, brick-shaped SUV to go over 200 MPH? Thanks to Toyota, we now have an updated answer to that question. The fine folks at Toyota took one of their 2017 Land Cruisers into the shop for a little work. When it came out, it broke the previous SUV Land Speed Record as the Land Speed Cruiser.

From 381 To Over 2000 Horsepower

The standard 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser engine is a 5.7-Liter DOHC 32-Valve V8 with 381 horsepower. This is plenty for all normal driving needs, but nowhere near enough for a land speed record.

The team of engineers at Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center added a pair of volleyball-sized turbochargers to boost the Land Cruiser’s power output. They also upgraded the engine’s internal parts so that the V8 could safely and reliably produce over 2,000 horsepower for its attempt on the record. A custom racing transmission, strong enough to handle the engine’s high power, was used to transmit all of that power to the rear wheels.

Reducing Weight And Improving Aero

Weight reduction was also an important part of the Land Speed Cruiser project. The luxurious leather interior was stripped out, replaced by a single racing seat for the driver. The all-wheel drive system was removed and the vehicle was converted to rear wheel drive. For safety, a full roll cage was fitted to protect the driver.

Improving the Land Cruiser’s aerodynamic profile was also an essential element for hitting the high speeds necessary to break the record. Gone is the Land Cruiser’s 8.9 inches of ground clearance. It has been lowered to the point where the low-profile racing tires just clear the fenders. A deep front spoiler diverts air to the sides of the vehicle. The roof rails and even the outside mirrors were removed to minimize drag.

Ready For The Record

Toyota tested the Land Speed Cruiser extensively at its Arizona Proving Ground. Once it was ready to make an attempt on the SUV land speed record, they needed a location with the longer straightaways that would allow more room to reach higher speeds. Toyota chose the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. It has a two-and-a-half-mile paved runway that would be just right for the Land Speed Cruiser’s mission.

For the actual record attempt, Toyota brought in Carl Edwards, who has been a Toyota driver in NASCAR racing. On his first run, Edwards hit 211 MPH, which equaled the previous record. The turbo power was dialed up, and another try was made. This time, Edwards drove the Land Speed Cruiser to its amazing 230 MPH record. Quite an achievement!

Practical Applications For The Land Speed Cruiser: None

The Land Speed Cruiser project falls firmly in the category of Cool Publicity Stunts. While it proves the awesome ingenuity and capabilities of Toyota’s racing engineers, there are absolutely no practical applications to be gained from making an SUV go 230 MPH.

Think about it – every single positive attribute of the production Land Cruiser was destroyed to allow it to achieve this very narrow goal:

  • Comfortable, Luxurious, Practical Interior: GONE
  • Ground Clearance And Off-Road Ability: GONE
  • Driver Assistance And Safety Features: GONE
  • Legendary Toyota Mechanical Reliability: GONE

So let’s applaud Toyota for this achievement. It’s a job well done. But please don’t try this when you take the 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser for a test drive!

About The Author

Stephen Fogel

Stephen follows the global automotive industry on a daily basis, including new model announcements, new technologies, sales trends, and the latest in "green" cars.