Running changes to an iconic model exploit a loophole in new vehicle safety requirements, giving it a second chance in Australia.
Toyota has reclassified its LandCruiser 70 Series ute to take advantage of a loophole in Australian safety laws.
Previously categorised as a light commercial vehicle, the ageing off-roader will soon be classified as a medium commercial vehicle – or truck – so that Toyota can sidestep new side impact rules intended to protect vehicle occupants.
Several vehicles were withdrawn from the local market when the rules came into effect last year for passenger cars, including high-profile favourites such as the Nissan GT-R.
Toyota will steer around the requirement for improved side-impact protection by raising the LandCruiser’s gross vehicle mass beyond 3500 kilograms, taking it out of the category shared with utes such as the Toyota HiLux and placing it in a class shared with small trucks.
The LandCruiser’s total weight when fully loaded will need to stay below 4500 kilos in order to be driven by people who hold a regular driver’s licence as opposed to commercial vehicle qualifications.
Other changes due in November include a new pedestrian detection and auto emergency braking system. The LandCruiser’s 151kW/430Nm V8 engine remains in place.
Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations, said the reclassification was necessary to keep the LandCruiser on sale.
“The upcoming changes are designed to ensure that the legendary LandCruiser 70 Series will continue to be available for the foreseeable future in the Australian market, where its popularity resulted in more than 13,900 sales last year,” he said.
“The increase in GVM is sure to appeal to owners who use the 70 Series as a tool of trade or are seeking an even greater ability as a heavy duty recreational off roader.
“Combined with heavy-duty suspension and 3,500kg towing capacity, these upgrades will enhance the versatility and rugged reputation for this legendary vehicle.”
Originally published as Why Toyota says the LandCruiser is no longer a ute
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