Reports suggest it will be based on the Highlander and will utilize a hybrid setup.
Rumors suggesting that Toyota will soon introduce a Century SUV are gaining traction, with Nikkei Asia(NA) reporting that the automaker will launch its latest range-topper by the end of the year.
If you're not aware, the Century nameplate is legendary in luxury car circles and is affixed to Toyota's finest production vehicle. Think the Lexus LS is as good as it gets? Think again. The Century is a stately sedan that can easily rival Bentley and Mercedes, but with sedans falling out of favor, Toyota sees the need for an SUV.
As per the report, the Century SUV will be positioned above the Land Cruiser and is expected to hit the scene in August or later. Despite the positioning within the lineup, NAclaims the newcomer will be based on the Highlander and utilize a hybrid setup.
Therefore, we can expect the upcoming Century SUV to employ a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a pair of electric motors. In the Highlander, this setup produces a combined output of 243 horsepower. Toyota may use the 3.5-liter V6 hybrid found in the Lexus LS and LC hybrid derivatives. That would better suit the premium demeanor of the vehicle.
Production is expected to take place at Toyota's Tahara Plant. This is where an array of high-end Lexus models have been built, suggesting that the automaker has reserved its finest plant for the new SUV. There's no word on whether the high-riding Century will make its way to the USA, but the report suggests that Toyota aims to cater to wealthy crowds in overseas markets.
Then again, the new Crown made its way to the States, so we're hoping.
The Century SUV won't supplant the sedan as the brand's halo model. Where the sedan retails for around $150,000, Toyota is reportedly planning to launch the Highlander-based Century nearer to the $75,000 mark. That would put it in the firing line of established luxury vehicles like the Range Rover Sport, BMW X5, and the Porsche Cayenne.
It makes sense for Toyota to bring its Century brand into the modern era and cater to contemporary luxury buyers. Rolls-Royce and Bentley have had to do the same thing in recent years, launching the Cullinan and Bentayga, respectively. These business decisions have stood both brands in good stead, and the former has become the most in-demand product of the Rolls-Royce product offering.
But there are other things Toyota has up its sleeve from a luxury perspective.
The Lexus LM was initially developed for the Chinese market, as luxury vans remain hugely popular over there. NAsays there are now plans to sell the luxury people mover in Japan, suggesting there are plans to bring the vehicle to other markets. Toyota only sells the Sienna in the USA, but the Lexus brand could benefit from a luxury alternative.
However, luxury minivans haven't taken the American market by storm, as wealthier clients prefer three-row premium SUVs. If we don't receive the LM, the Century SUV may make its way to our shores. With any luck, Toyota will feel generous and give us the iconic sedan as well.
Whether they will encroach on Lexus sales remains to be seen, but then again, the same thing can be said of the Crown, and that still made it here.
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