Toyota claims ‘World’s Fastest SUV’ title

Posted at 4:45 PM, May 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-07 12:07:50-04

Toyota has claimed the title of World’s Fastest SUV after a Toyota Land Cruiser hit 230 miles an hour on a long runway. But don’t try that with the Land Cruiser you might have parked in the driveway.

Toyota made a few changes to create the vehicle it’s cleverly dubbed the Land Speed Cruiser. While the engine started out as the Land Cruiser’s usual 381 horsepower 5.7-liter V8, engineers modified it by adding two big turbochargers, among other changes. Ultimately, the engine’s output was multiplied more than five times to 2,000 horsepower.

The hulking SUV required other tweaks to prepare it to push through the air at over 200 miles an hour. The suspension was lowered so that the truck hugged the ground, and was also modified to allow for wider tires.

Former NASCAR driver Carl Edwards drove the truck at Mojave Air and Space Port in California for the record run. That facility has a 2.5 mile runway on which the test was done.

On his first try, Edwards only got the SUV up to 211 miles per hour. Engineers increased the turbocharger boost and, on the next run, Edwards made it to 230 mph.

Bentley still lays claim to the fastest unmodified production SUV with the Bentayga, which has a top speed of 187 miles an hour.

Last September, Volkswagen set the record for World’s Fastest Beetle with a highly modified 543 horsepower 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo R-Line. That car went 205 miles an hour. In 2015, actor Idris Elba set a record in the “flying mile” in an unmodified Bentley GT Speed going an average speed of 180.4 miles an hour.

Big, fuel hungry and expensive — prices start at roughly $84,000 — the Land Cruiser is not a big seller for Toyota. It sold just 3,700 of them in the US last year. By comparison, Toyota can sell 10 times that many Camry sedans here in a single month.