After years and years of dominating the top end of the traditional off-road-ready SUV market, the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser doesn’t really have that much in the way of direct competition — at least, not here in America. Sure, the Ford Expedition and Chevy Tahoe offer their own off-road packages, but neither has quite the off-road chops of the Land Crusher. Indeed, its closest rivals here hail from within its own family: the Lexus LX 570 and GX 460, fancified versions of the 200 Series Land Cruiser and the current Land Cruiser Prado, respectively.
But it seems as though a new Land Cruiser fighter could be soon to arrive from a very unexpected source: Kia.
That’s the word from Australia’s Carsales, relayed up to the Northern Hemisphere via the folks at The Drive. Carsales spells it out as a matter of fact: according to them, Kia is hard at work on building a body-on-frame SUV that could be as large as the Land Cruiser — one equipped with the ample ground clearance, low-range 4WD and locking differentials needed to make a great off-roader.
Of course, that report is sadly lacking in sources willing to go on-record confirming these plans. The closest we have to it is are some words from Kia Australia product planning chief Roland Rivero. “Our desire, if we were to bring in an upper-large SUV, would be a ladder-frame execution,” he told Carsales, adding that the Aussie market expects the sort of capability not usually found in unibody crossovers from their SUVs. “It’d be…nice to have.”
Even if this report proves true — and if so, Carsales suggests we shouldn’t expect to see the vehicle on the roads until around 2023 — the big question for those of us in the United States is, will we ever get it? One potential issue that could dash our hopes: engine choice. Carsales suggests that the new turbocharged inline-six diesel introduced in the Genesis GV80 would be an excellent fit for the giant Kia…but while oil-burning powerplants are popular in big SUVs Down Under, the diesel-powered GV80 isn’t even coming to America.
Still, Genesis does offer a couple engines here that could work for a Land Cruiser-sized vehicle: the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 found in the G90 sedan. The latter would offer more of the gentle tractability off-roaders like (and the V8 rumble we all love), but considering the turbo six makes as much torque and gets better fuel economy, we’re guessing that would be the obvious choice. After all, if the next Land Cruiser can live without a V8, odds are good any new foes can, too.
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