Yeah, sure, okay, today’s cars are amazing, but it was a sad day when a computer became more important to their maintenance than a wrench. If I look at the Subaru engine tucked into my Syncro, I can still tell the flux capacitor from the hyperdrive, unlike in most cars, where what’s under the hood looks more like a mainframe. Toyota’s Land Cruiser 70 series, only seen in North America in infinitesimally small quantities, hearkens back to that simpler time, and now, 30 years after its launch, it’s being re-released with retrograde styling.
For most of its life, the 70 series was a bulwark against the tide of over-luxed, over-tech SUVs, a relatively simple, nimble off-roader sold pretty much everywhere in the world except North America. (Blame those pesky U.S. emissions and safety standards again.) Toyota ceased production on the classic rig in Japan in 2004, though continued to produce it in relatively small numbers in Australia and a few other markets, and is bringing it back for the home market and nowhere else, and, alas, for only a year.
Bummer. The re-released 70 has a 4.0-liter V6 power plant producing 228 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, with a five-speed manual gearbox (hallelujah!), part-time 4WD, and ABS and airbags – all at a cost of about $35,000. Yes, that’s a lot of coin, or yen, but have you seen the beast that wears the Land Cruiser badge in America lately? It starts at $80,000, comes with a 5.7 liter V8 that claims 13 mpg but probably gets 10 pulling jet skis, and comes with elements like a heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel. Give me something that speaks wrench any day.