Monday, May 8, 2017

Toyota has the fastest SUV

Toyota has the fastest SUV

Well, after a major road test, it’s official, the Toyota Land Cruiser is the world’s fastest SUV. The Land Cruiser in question topped 230 miles per hour driving on a long runway, though those who performed the feat say no one should ever try that at home.

First of all, this SUV is hardly stock. It started out as the standard 381 hp V8, but engineers added turbochargers as well as a few other aftermarket tweaks. These upgrades transformed 381 horses into about 2,000. And that was just the beginning. The SUV needed a lot more to be able to top 200mph. That included a stronger, lower suspension, wider tires and other road-hugging adaptations.

They also needed a driver who could handle the truck at ridiculously high speeds for an SUV. They scored NASCAR superstar Carl Edwards, who was able to get the vehicle up to 230 on a 2.5-mile track. Edwards was a natural choice, given his background on the truck circuit before coming to NASCAR.

Edwards managed 211 mph on his first run, leading engineers to up the power, allowing Edwards to hit 230. This is a far cry from the 187 hit by the Bentley Bentayga … but that was with a stock, unmodified, production SUV, not the boosted Cruiser.

So, what’s the point in all this? Do people shopping for SUVs really care about speed? Well, that’s up for debate, but it’s likely safe to say, “not as much as those buying sports cars.” So, what gives? Well, this designation is something Toyota can use to get eyes on their product and generate some free headlines … good steps in the effort to stay in the first third of the pack in the SUV market. It’s a tough and crowded segment, and Toyota has some very stiff competition across several facets of this market, from true utility to luxury SUVs.

At each level, Toyota has worked hard to stand out, but the automaker, which has been at or near the top of the midsize sedan market for years thanks to the Camry, and led the charge in the hybrid market with the Prius, has struggled to keep up in the SUV market. While it does have some contenders, the brand just hasn’t sold as well as others.

To stand out in the market, Toyota needed something to hang their hat on. Now they have the cleverly positioned “Land Speed” Cruiser. Sure, they don’t sell a lot of Land Cruisers, and this news probably won’t do much to change that, but it does get people talking about Toyota SUVs. And, for Toyota, that’s something they really need right now.

David Milberg is a financial analyst from NYC.

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