In the ever-evolving landscape of the automotive industry, it seems that even the most exclusive and traditional vehicles are not immune to the SUV revolution. Case in point: the Toyota Century, a symbol of luxury and prestige in Japan for decades, has taken a bold step into the realm of SUVs, leaving enthusiasts and connoisseurs with high-class hopes.
For those uninitiated, the Century has long been Japan’s well-kept secret, reserved for industry magnates, old-money elites, and royalty. This car, with its understated elegance and purposeful anachronism, never quite catered to the driving enthusiast, even though it sported a V12 engine option. Interestingly, it was often overshadowed by another Toyota, the Crown sedan, among Japanese ambassadors abroad.
However, a handful of Century sedans found their way out of Japan’s borders over the years, despite Toyota’s lack of official marketing for international audiences. Just a few years after undergoing a redesign that replaced its softer lines with a more minimalist design and its V12 engine with a hybrid V8 setup, the Century is now venturing into uncharted territory—a full-fledged SUV.
The Century SUV, designed with a focus on rear passenger comfort, retains its essence as a chauffeur-driven vehicle. The back seats offer an airline-style reclining experience and a plethora of luxurious features, ensuring a pampered ride for its fortunate occupants.
Under the hood, a 3.5-liter V6 engine combined with a PHEV setup powers this personal limousine. Its handling dynamics are intriguing, given its considerable weight of 5665 pounds and a wheelbase of just 116.1 inches, which is slightly shorter than a BMW 5-Series sedan.
To navigate Tokyo’s bustling streets, the Century SUV is equipped with a four-wheel steering system. Despite its generous proportions, it still falls a few inches short in length compared to a Cadillac Escalade, with an overall length of 204.9 inches, making it more maneuverable in tight urban spaces.
However, unlike some of its SUV counterparts, the Century SUV doesn’t aim to offer cavernous cargo space or a third row of seats; it remains a strictly four-seater vehicle. Surprisingly, Toyota also plans to release a GR (Gazoo Racing) version, complete with minivan-style sliding rear doors, catering to a niche market within the luxury segment.
Customization options will abound, including the possibility of adventurous two-tone paint schemes, though it’s likely that many will opt for more subdued colors both inside and out, in keeping with the vehicle’s clientele.
With a starting price of approximately $170,000, the Century SUV emerges as a unique and intriguing alternative to established luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. However, it appears that this opulent SUV will remain an exclusive offering for the Japanese market, with no plans to venture across the Pacific to North America, and that’s just too bad. We really wish Toyota would bring such a vehicle here to America to run amongst our very own Rodeo Drive cruisers like the Mercedes G Wagon, Range Rover Autobiography, Cadillac Escalade, Bentley Bentayga, and, of course, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. We can only hope Toyota changes their mind as they see that American’s have a thirst for Japanese luxury in excess as we’ve had with American, German and British luxury SUVs.