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From Land Hopper to the mini HiLux: How Toyota's baby LandCruiser could finally deliver a hardcore Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz rival at a bargain-basement price

The Toyota Stout rendered (Image: Digimods Design)

Toyota’s incoming Land Hopper — the mini LandCruiser that will reportedly be on sale as soon as next year — won’t just give the brand a budget-friendly rival to models like the five-door Suzuki Jimny and Ford Bronco, but could also finally deliver the long-rumoured baby HiLux, our Stout, which would share the off-road SUV’s dimensions, platforms and powertrains.

While Toyota is yet to officially confirm the Land Hopper, multiple reports from several Japanese outlets are suggesting the model will launch next year, and could even make its debut at this month’s Tokyo Auto Show, after the name “Land Hopper” was registered in the auto giant’s home market.

It’s thought the new off-roader will ride on a ladder-frame off-road platform, but that its dimensions will largely mirror the Toyota Corolla Cross, which stretches 4460mm in length and 1825mm in width. For reference, the new Prado is 4925mm in length and 1980mm in width, making the Land Hopper very much the little brother of the LC family.

But those dimensions also tie in neatly with reports that Toyota is working on a Corolla Cross-sized ute that would sit below the HiLux, and which would be able to share its engine and platform with the Land Hopper.

Toyota is reportedly future-proofing the mini LandCruiser, starting with the petrol-hybrid powertrains from the Corolla Cross and RAV4 Hybrids, before shifting to a fully-electric version further into its model life. 

And that SUV could feed the range, the baby HiLux revealed in near-finished production version in August, which is scheduled for launch some time in 2024 or early 2025. While that sub-HiLux ute is destined for southeast asian markets, it’s also possible that the Land Hopper could feed a new baby HiLux project - thought to be called the Toyota Stout - more suited to Australian tastes, and more in keeping with its hybrid and full-electric powertrains.

Whatever it is, it promises to be affordable. International reports point to the Land Hopper being the cheapest model in the LandCruiser family, and by some margin, with media calling out a 3.8m yen(approx $40,000) price for the game-changing off-roader. That would undercut the LandCruiser 300 Series and the Prado, of course, but it would also put models like the Jeep Wrangler and even the Suzuki Jimny on notice. Those numbers come courtesy of Japan’s Best Car Web, with the site suggesting the model’s pricing could even start at 3m yen, which would be more like $31k AUD.

With the Tokyo auto show now just weeks away, all eyes will be on the Toyota stand. So watch this space.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to...
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