"Sooner rather than later": Now the 2024 Toyota LandCruiser Prado Hybrid is coming to Australia, and it could be here this year!
Toyota will almost certainly launch the LandCruiser Prado hybrid in Australia,...
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Lexus is set to finally release its own spin-off of the much-anticipated next-generation Toyota Prado in Australia at last, returning to the seven-seater SUV segment it recently abandoned with the now-defunct previous-gen RX L.
It is believed to be part of three all-new models slated for Australia over the next 18 months that the company publicly announced earlier this month, though nobody at Lexus is confirming for now what these vehicles will be.
The only thing Lexus insiders are saying is that the so-called TX three-row SUV based on the just-unveiled long-wheelbase Toyota Grand Kluger/Grand Highlander in North America won’t be one of them, given the latter’s US-made left-hand-drive-only specification.
But don't fret.
Aimed squarely at off-road capable 4x4s like the Land Rover Defender, the Japanese-made GX is likely to be the consolation prize. And what a prize, since it is poised to adopt a variety of advanced technologies filtering through a variety of big-ticket models based on the formidable TNGA-F (Toyota New Global Architecture – Frame) body-on-frame platform.
This means 300 Series LandCruiser of course, so likely a variation of the 227kW/700Nm 3.3-litre V6 twin turbo diesel for some markets, including its 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and trick 4x4 systems, also available in the LX flagship SUV released in Australia last year.
There’s also speculation that the latter’s 305kW/650Nm 3.5-litre V6 turbo petrol might also make its way into the next GX.
But there's more, since the rumour mill is spinning overtime with suggestions that the so-called Hybrid Max powertrain that debuted in the car-based Crown in Japan is also earmarked for the 2024 Prado and GX.
To bring you up to speed, we’re talking about a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an electric motor on each axle, for combined power and torque outputs in excess of 250kW and 540Nm respectively.
Indeed, it is, and in this application – which is a transverse-engine all-wheel-drive monocoque body SUV built on the TNGA-K platform underpinning the Camry, RAV4 and Kluger as well as the Lexus NX and RX in Australia – the net power max is 273kW. In Japan, it’s known as the T24A-FTS with Dual Boost Hybrid System (DBHS).
This shows the switchable plug-and-play versatility of the TNGA components, which translates to a dizzying breadth of tech-sharing in a way that was not easy – or even possible previously – among Toyotas and Lexuses based on profoundly different architectures, including from car to truck platforms.
As a result, expect to see it in a bunch of coming models, including the GA-K-based LandCruiser 300, coming Tundra full-sized pick-up (as well as its North American Sequoia SUV sibling) and next-gen HiLux, among scores of others.
That Hybrid Max powertrain has a telling connection with the RX, actually, since the GX is earmarked to replace the slow-selling RX L long-wheelbase model that was dropped globally when the latest (ALA10) series was unveiled mid last year.
Inevitably, the next Prado/GX will also score the raft of driver-assist safety advances that the 300/LX and others have gained switching to TNGA-F, as well as the lower centre of gravity that the lower frame brings.
A substantially stronger yet lighter body and redesigned drivetrain and suspension systems also promise better off-road capability as well as far-more civilised on-road manners that the ageing J150 Prado can't manage. Remember, that 4x4 has been in production since 2009.
While the all-new 2024 version of the Lexus will be the first Antipodean outing for the GX, it will actually be the third version since the series debuted in North America in January, 2002.
That original was based on the fourth series Prado launched here the following year (2003's legendary J120), and shadowed the latter’s J150 replacement from 2010. Both models are still in production and on sale today, but of course are now very long in the tooth and so in their twilight years.
Of course, although Australians first saw the Prado badge with the launch of the 4Runner-replacing J90 series in 1996, the nameplate dates back officially from 1990 elsewhere in the J70 – which of course was first seen locally in 1984 and is still (technically) available new today as Toyota’s iconic workhorse range of 4x4s.
But back to GX, nearly half a million have found homes in the United States since 2002, with demand stronger than ever. It’s now the third best-selling model in Lexus’ range in North America, behind the NX and RX.
Will the same happen in Australia starting from next year or 2025? We wouldn’t bet against it.