By Andrew Ganz
Friday, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 8:25 am
 
A new report out of Japan suggests that Toyota is working on a hybrid version of its next Toyota Land Cruiser lineup.

The report doesn't make it clear if the automaker's hybrid plans apply to both the full-size Land Cruiser (pictured) or the smaller Land Cruiser Prado, which shares its platform with the Toyota 4Runner and is sold in North America as the Lexus GX 460.

However, it is widely expected that both Land Cruiser variants will eventually have to gain hybrid powertrains in order to be sold in markets with strict fuel economy or tailpipe emissions standards. That includes the United States, where a 35 mpg standard spread across an automaker's entire lineup is looming.

A hybrid Land Cruiser could arrive as soon as 2016, reports Japan's Nikkei.

Although the full-size Land Cruiser is hardly a big seller in the U.S., its high profit margins have made it a sustainable business case for the Japanese automaker. The big four-wheel-drive vehicle, which is designed more for off road use in the Middle East and Australia due to its towering dimensions, is rated at a low 13/18 mpg (15 mpg combined) in the EPA's testing.

By comparison, the GX 460, which utilizes a smaller V8 engine, is rated at 15/20 mpg (17 mpg combined) and its V6-powered Toyota 4Runner cousin checks in at 17/21 mpg (18 mpg combined) with optional four-wheel-drive.