Nearly 40 years old, and still in production, the Land Cruiser 70 Series never landed on U.S. soil - Here’s why.by Khris Bharath, on
In an age where every other SUV is either going electric or is looking to conquer the Nordschleife, here is something refreshing. This is a basic, bare-bones rugged off-roader. Behold, the 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser, which believe it or not, you can still buy as a brand new vehicle in some parts of the world in 2021.
The Land Cruiser 70 Series Is Special in a Unique Way
To put it into context, the 70 series is nearly four decades old and came out in 1984, the same year that Apple debuted its Macintosh, the Cosby Show was a ratings winner, and Bruce Springsteen was performing Dancing in the Dark.
What this 70 really is, is a no-nonsense off-roader with just the essentials and not much else.
These days, every other cross-over is being splashed on with Body cladding and touted as an SUV, but the 70 Series is what a REAL SUV looks like.
With something like the 70, you wouldn’t think twice about heading off-road. Surprisingly, in keeping with the times, the 70s boxy design has aged well, and thankfully the Boxy form factor really is coming back. I mean take a look at the new Ford Bronco and the Land Rover Defender.
How the Land Cruiser 70 Series came about
The Toyota Land Cruiser had already established a good reputation as a rugged, no-nonsense 4WD vehicle that could be relied on in the world’s most hostile climates. There were limitations to what could be done to upgrade its predecessor, the 40-series models.
As a result, Toyota’s Chief Engineer back then, Masaomi Yoshii overhauled the design and had to adhere to these rules. What resulted was the 70-series, which led the Land Cruiser into a new generation. It has been in dealerships in several parts of the world since then.
Toyota widened the LandCruiser’s design brief to include more comfortable family-friendly station wagons (the 55 Series and then 60 Series), leaving the 40 Series vehicles as the range’s sole workhorses. And it was in this capacity that the 70 Series stepped in.
What’s So Special About the Land Cruiser 70 Series?
Toyota’s 70 Series really is part of a long-running line of vehicles that completes the workhorse end of the LandCruiser lineup. It might be functional and utilitarian, but they certainly are dependable and easy to fix. Ask someone who takes the things in the bush. They really do swear by them,
There are a number of tried and tested gas or diesel engines. There are several body styles to choose from. It is, therefore, best to think of the 70 Series as a family of cars rather than a standalone vehicle.
It has all of the off-road capabilities of a typical Land Cruiser minus the extravagance and luxury features that we are so spoilt for these days.
The vehicle is legendary for its toughness and the design is so good that the 70 has been in series production without being overhauled since 1984. That is a staggering 37 years.
To keep it relevant in modern times, Toyota has updated the 70 with safety and tech over the years, like Airbags and ABS. Even a five-speed manual gearbox was finally added with a taller fifth gear back in 2017 to further refine the experience from behind the wheel.
Where can you get one?
Today, Toyota still sells both SUV and pickup variants of the 70 Series in countries like the UAE, Australia, and many parts of the world. People in Dubai for example can still get a brand new one for as little as $38,600. Another fan favorite, theFJ Cruiser, which Toyota discontinued in the United States in 2014, is still available in the UAE.
Africa is another favorite destination for the Land Cruiser 70 Series. In South Africa for instance, pickup variants of the 79 Series based on the 70 Series are still available, notably last year’s Namib edition. Also, in some South American markets, such as Venezuela, you can still purchase a Land Cruiser 70.
Why didn’t the 70 make it here?
Back in the day, following the end of production of the classic FJ40, Toyota split the Land Cruiser lineage in two. The four-door FJ60 wagon, that remained on the American market and the LC series. However the 70 Series – a more direct replacement for the FJ40 — was one iconic model that the American market never got. As such, it is possibly the most enticing vehicle for US Land Cruiser fans — at least until we learn when the new 300 Series Land Cruiser will be available here.
While it’s a shame the J70 Cruiser never made it to the United States, Toyota had its fair share of reasons. Due to emissions regulations, it wasn’t made available in either the United States or Europe. However, it is available in much of the rest of the world. The most obvious one being is that the automaker already sells a bare-bones, very durable, smaller SUV in the United States. The Toyota 4Runner.
Many four-wheel drives have a long model cycle, but no one could have imagined that the 70 Series would still be in production in 2021 when it was introduced nearly four decades ago. Toyotas formula took the approach of why fix something that ain’t broke with this one and it definitely seems to have worked. Since the car has been around for this long, would it be a good candidate for an EV resto-mod conversion by importing an example over 25 years old? Let us know in the comments below.
Here’s Paul Maric from Car Expert YouTube Channel take us on an in-depth tour of the Land Cruiser 70 series.