Watch this Civilian Toyota Mega Cruiser in-depth review - story fullscreen Fullscreen

Watch this Civilian Toyota Mega Cruiser in-depth review

The Toyota Mega Cruiser is basically the Japanese HUMVEE, but cooler

When you hear Toyota, some of the first words to come to mind are reliable, boring, hybrid, or if you’re into the 4X4 scene – rugged. The Toyota Land Cruiser is, to this day, one of the most iconic 4X4s out there. What most people don’t know is that there is a bigger “Cruiser”, made by Toyota – the Toyota Mega Cruiser. Chris O’Neil is an enthusiast YouTube channel, named after its creator, in which “he does stuff with interesting vehicles”. In this case, he gives a detailed overview of the obscure boxy SUV.

Being an avid Toyota Land Cruiser enthusiast and owner, he gives us a tour of the Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Museum in South Lake City, Utah. “That one looks a lot like a Hummer, but I assure you, it is not a Hummer” – Chris reassures us.

It’s a product of the early 1990s Japanese Bubble economy. However, it was produced in many small quantities, for Japan only. Around 3,000 were made and like the Hummer H1, the Mega Cruiser was based on military transport. In this case, it was the BXD-10 Mega Cruiser – a bare-bone military version of the car. Just as the HUMVEE served the American Army, the BXD-10 served the Japanese Defense Force.

Toyota saw a potential appeal to the general public and produced the civilian version, dubbed the BXD-20 Mega Cruiser.

It did not prove very popular due to heavy taxation, due to Japan’s strict dimension and road tax regulations. Only 149 Civilian Mega Cruisers were built.

The big 4X4 was intended to be a testbed for future 4X4 tech that would eventually be put into other Toyota models, like the Land Cruiser.

Unlike the Hummer, the front hood doesn’t feature vents and is made of fiberglass. The front bumper centerpiece is metal, while the side extensions are plastic. The three windshield washers later made an appearance on the FJ Cruiser.

Watch this Civilian Toyota Mega Cruiser in-depth review
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It’s powered by a 4.1-liter inline-four turbodiesel, mated to a 4-speed automatic
It’s rate at 153 horsepower and 282 pound-feet (382 Nm)

It’s powered by a 4.1-liter 15B-FTE inline-four turbodiesel, making 153 horsepower and 282 pound-feet (382 Nm). It’s mated to a four-speed Aisin automatic gearbox.

Toyota Mega Cruiser specifications
Engine 4.1-liter 15B-FTE inline-four turbodiesel
Power 153 HP
Torque 282 LB-FT
Transmission four-speed Aisin automatic
Weight 6,283 pounds (2,850 kg)
Watch this Civilian Toyota Mega Cruiser in-depth review
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Clever engineering - It featured inboard brakes, portal axles, and ful independent suspension

The Mega Cruiser features more clever engineering, such as front and rear independent suspension, inboard brakes, and portal axles. Unlike the Hummer, the Mega Cruiser has four-wheel steering. A secondary steering rack allows the rear wheels to spin in the opposite direction, during low-speed maneuvering, in order to improve turning radius.

Inside, it’s a typical 1990s Toyota, featuring many bits from the 80-series Land Cruiser. The gear-shift knob, the transfer-case knob, the window switches, and many others came straight from there. In addition, you get a wide transmission tunnel and a shallow dashboard, just like in the Hummer. However, the second row can easily seat four people – something the Hummer cannot do.

Watch this Civilian Toyota Mega Cruiser in-depth review
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It also has a bespoke roof rack
That was also optional
In addition to the massive cargo area, the Mega Cruiser also has a retractable rear side step and a bespoke roof rack that was optional.

In addition, two rooftops were available – a standard and an optional high roof.

The biggest road-legal right-hand-drive car ever made. Chris describes the oddity of sitting as far to the right as possible while retraining your brain. As someone who has experienced that, let me tell you, it takes some getting used to.

“It can get you up to highway speeds, but it’ll take a minute…literally”. By the way, the curb weight is a staggering 6,283 pounds (2,850 kg). Of course, no one would dare complain about your “leisurely pace”, as you can easily run them over.

Watch this Civilian Toyota Mega Cruiser in-depth review
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It had two roof types - a standard and an optional high roof

More refined than a Hummer. This might surprise you, but the civilian Mega Cruiser feels more like a Toyota than a clunky military vehicle. It feels solid.

In conclusion, Chris says “This thing, while bizarre and unique by any standard, was completely passable as a means of everyday transportation”.

Of course, check out the video, if you want to see the Mega Cruiser in action, and if you happen to be near the Land Cruiser museum, have a peek. Do you think the Toyota Mega Cruiser is more awesome than the Hummer H1?

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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