The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the most dependable, rugged, capable vehicles on the market, if not the most. With its brawny styling, overbuilt engine, and go-anywhere toughness, many would consider it the ultimate Toyota SUV.
It isn’t, though.
In the 1990s, Toyota one-upped itself by creating the Mega Cruiser, which is essentially the Japanese equivalent of the AM General Hummer. Originally designed for military purposes, the Mega Cruiser eventually found its way into the hands of civilian buyers, with a few creature comforts added here and there. Think of the Mega Cruiser as the Toyota counterpart to the Hummer H1 and it all starts to make sense. Of course, from this perspective, the Land Cruiser starts to resemble an H2 — a comparison that would make Toyota fans wince.
We learned about rare Toyota SUVs yesterday, and the Mega Cruiser is certainly no exception. Toyota made about 3,000 examples of the brute but sold a total of just 133 to civilian customers. Production began in 1995, meaning the truck only just became legal to import to the States. So it’s highly unlikely you’ve ever seen one.
That’s unfortunate, because what a sight to behold the Mega Cruiser (presumably) is. The Hummer H1 is already a notoriously gigantic vehicle, but the Mega Cruiser is a whopping seven inches taller and sixteen longer. The Toyota is narrower, but only by an inch or two.
Unsurprisingly, the enormous body is heavy. Real heavy. The Mega Cruiser tips the scales at nearly 6,300 pounds, making it more than thrice as heavy as a Lotus Elise. Part of this weight is due to its neat four-wheel steering system, which makes the truck vaguely maneuverable.
What powers this behemoth? A four-banger that squeezes out a paltry hundred and fifty-three horsepower. Of course, this engine is similarly cartoonish in size, displacing 4.1 liters. In other words, this truck has more liters than cylinders. It’s also turbocharged for some extra grunt, giving it over 280 pound-feet of torque. And, of course, it runs on diesel fuel.
The bus-sourced engine powers all four wheels through a four-speed automatic. Speaking of the wheels, they spin on portal axles and wear 37-inch tires — larger than even the Ram TRX’s 35s. This combination gives the Mega Cruiser nearly a foot and a half of ground clearance. A Jeep Wrangler might as well be on StanceNation by comparison.
Of course, this all adds up to the Mega Cruiser being slow. The truck tops out a little over 80 miles an hour. Not that you’d worry about anyone hitting you from behind and causing any damage.
This is partially because you’d be so distracted by the interior of this thing. This particular example for sale has only four seats, but standard Mega Cruisers had six: two in the front row, and four in the second row. The Mega Cruiser has ‘more’ of a few other gadgets as well: three exterior rear-view mirrors. Three front windshield wipers. Two rear wipers. And more screens than places to sit.
Then there are the oddities. The radio is mounted on the center console, like in any other car. However, unlike in any other car, the radio faces sideways. The two rear passengers get access to three cupholders and one TV screen each, but they are forced to share a third center one. Except the center screen is mounted in the trunk, behind the rear seats, and facing the opposite direction. Finally, there’s the general look of the interior, as if someone tarted up a Hummer to look like a 1990’s business office.
Obviously, you are lusting after this truck — I certainly am. And you’re in luck because it’s currently listed for sale. There is a bit of a catch, however.
First is the price. The seller is asking over $95,000 for this example. Not that this is an unfair request — these are tremendously rare and this is a clean, relatively low-mileage example. Additionally, this is a left-hand-drive Mega Cruiser — one of just twelve ever made. And that’s about half what you’d pay for a Hummer H1 Alpha.
The other catch is the location. This truck is currently located in Kazakhstan, meaning it must be shipped if the United States will be its new home. Fortunately, this is now possible, as this particular Mega Cruiser is a 1996 model and just became legal to import a few days ago. But transporting the vehicle will add a substantial cost to the already high purchase price.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the market for a Mega Cruiser, this one seems like a great option. Mostly because it’s the option. It has low miles for a Toyota, it has some relatively luxurious features, and — crucially — it’s left-hand-drive. And you’ll always win Cars and Coffee, both for having the rarest car there and for running over everything else in the parking lot.