The Toyota Mega Cruiser is Japan’s ultimate off-road machine | Jobs Reply


The situation surrounding Japanese automotive manufacturing in the nineties and the crop of unique, amazingly over-engineered, technologically advanced vehicles born during this period. Supras, Skylines, Wankel RX-7s, and the original NSX evoke just as strong an emotion today as they did when their images first hit PlayStation discs. From the fun the NA Miata and Integra Type R deserve Lexus LS400 As it emerged to take on the “best car in the world” at half the price, seemingly every niche in the car industry was headlined by something interesting and Japanese.

Toyota–creator of the MkIV Supra and LS400–coveted world dominance in yet another segment. More than any OEM known as Land Rover or Jeep, Toyota is synonymous with off-roading. In 1995, the company wrote stairway to heaven 4×4 genre. Under the pretext of creating a domestic foil for the US military’s large, intimidating HMMWV (Humvee), Japan’s biggest “Big Three” have cooked up something more than the famous Land Cruiser that they call it the “Mega Cruiser”.

Mega Cruiser

Rare civilian-spec mega cruiser.

the toyota

Like its American inspiration, Toyota offered the public its ultimate military 4×4. The civilian-spec model had an original starting price of ¥9,620,000. That translates to about $85,000 in 1995 US dollars (or $158,000 in 2022 dollars). Due to the perfect storm of a suddenly uncertain Japanese economy, heavy one-two punch asking prices and a complete lack of practicality, and a domestic vehicle tax system that saw registration fees balloon to the size of a car, fewer than 150 civilian examples were built. Today, mega cruisers are eligible for importation under the USs 25-year rule for the first few years of production, with your “obscure 4×4 fund” singing to the tune of at least $150,000 before transportation costs, import fees, etc. If you want a prayer to an owner; Be warned, pre-imported models may double.

Mega Cruiser

The military-spec model was a much more common mega cruiser.

the toyota

On top of these civilian-spec crown jewels, nearly 3,000 military MCs were built between the model’s debut and its 2001 discontinuation. These stripped models can be for a much more reasonable amount; You’ll miss niceties like the original wood-grain trim and heated seats, but all the JDM off-road knowledge remains intact, making even the lowest TMC desirable.


Nestled in a valley on the doorstep of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll find the town of Estes Park. Because of its unique location, Estes has a GDP that is almost entirely driven by outdoor tourism, and in this ecosystem of nearly limitless choices, Wildside 4×4 Tour reigns supreme. Their trucks are customized, maintained and stored behind the scenes at the old Chrysler dealership in town that WS has converted into a shop fully deserving of its “Batcave” nickname.

Seeing a mega cruiser for the first time is a fun thing. You’d be forgiven for initially thinking this is some kind of kit-Hummer, but don’t call the Toyota a knockoff. With factory dimensions of 200.4 x 85.4 x 81.7, it’s a full 16 inches longer and about seven inches taller than the Humvee (ten inches with the optional “high roof”), but it’s also an inch slimmer. The Meg’s already formidable but somewhat awkward presence is Wildside’s Mega Cruiser, nicknamed the Honey Badger, carrying an intricate roll cage of metal and Plexiglas atop its three four-seat custom, raised seat rows.

Once you climb through one of the Badger’s front doors, which are oddly thin for something designed for combat, you’ll find yourself boxed in by a massive console that puts about five feet between you and your passenger, making it the perfect vehicle for those who enjoy conversation. do not After a quick interior rundown—there’s really not much to see in such retired duty units—we finally hit the road. About four miles of sidewalk sat between our suburban location and the loving embrace of dirt and jagged rocks.

Along with its imposing physical size comes a great deal of height. Those things tipped the Toyota’s scale at a substantial 6,395 pounds. Providing animation to the masses is one bit of the Mega Cruiser’s spec sheet that could be considered disappointing; Toyota’s 15B-FTE 4.1-liter turbo-diesel inline-4. This mill produced 153 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque, besting the Humvee powertrain lineup. That’s also far less than what American diesel buyers expected in the mid-nineties, when Dodge’s 5.9L Cummins and Ford’s 7.3L Powerstroke were making more than 400 lb-ft. On a per-litre basis, the 4.1 was a powerhouse, but we couldn’t win any drag races in the light downtown. The big cruiser reportedly takes 20.6 seconds to hit the 60 MPH mark at sea level; But the best we could do at altitude was an indicated 80 KPH (49.7 MPH).

Mega Cruiser

Meg next to the Hummer H1, like long lost cousins.

Alex Somers

We turned off the pavement, to the relief of the line of cars behind our heavy rigs, and wound our way. Pole Hill Road Trail. The first stretch of Pole Hill is wide, with exposed mountain rock reaching through the earth on the right side of the trail to create a series of unexpected rises and ruts that the Tacoma TRD Pro driver wisely kept ahead of us in the left “lane” dirt path around. The stretch of boulders on this stretch and the next “Devil’s Staircase” section of the trail give all comers pause, but our truck had a secret weapon that allowed us to proceed with confidence.

For maximum ground clearance, Toyota engineers imbued all examples of their giant baby with portal axles. This technology moves each axle from their traditional low-slung position skyward along the centerline of the wheels by connecting each axle to a gearbox that directs power to the wheel hub unit. Outside of a mega cruiser, the only places you’re likely to encounter portal axles are rolling yourself under an H1 or a modern G550 4×4.

The Meg uses its portal axles to a ridiculous – and Stoner-approved – 420 mm (16.5 in) ground clearance. This mark relaunches both the original H1 and GMC’s electric Hummer at 12.7mm.

Mega Cruiser

Alex Somers

With that in mind, it was no surprise that our Mega Cruiser was able to purposefully go over every obstacle on the tough course, climb, and climb that Dan and I from Wildside threw at it. Meg made rock crawling, which is really hard, look effortless; Their mechanical equivalents Cliff-climbing goats Which seems to be on every nature show. Our once cumbersome steed and it’s trying powerplant now make perfect sense The TMC’s off-the-charts capabilities continue to impress as we trudge our way from 7500 to over 8500 feet above sea level. In our search for the perfect picture, they were the ones who threw in the towel before traveling on the double wishbone four-wheel independent suspension that allowed even a midden of sunlight to show between the 37-inch tires and either one. The terrain that they were busy submitting to.

Mega Cruiser

Alex Somers

At the top, it performed a perfect U-turn. It may not sound impressive, but the turning circle on this thing is unreal. All Megas are equipped with a speed-sensitive four-wheel steering system that helps compress Toyota’s largest SUV ever when presented with tight quarters. This innovative power steering system is capable of fully locking its rear wheels up to 12°. That means the Mega Cruiser has a turning circle of 18.4 feet. Our H1 needs 26.5 feet.

Right now, there’s a lot of “rockin'” on the Wildside Tour Turning right, we’ve officially reached the “roller coaster” section, which trades Moab for market flavor. As we descended the Black Diamond side of the mountain with pine needles brushing each mirror, this monument to 90s Japanese engineering was suddenly slow. It becomes pleasant. Like all coasters, it was over too quickly and we were suddenly faced with the tarmac. Honey Badger flipped the switch back to the “completely out of its element” setting

Mega Cruiser

Alex Somers

The neatest technical nugget that emerges as we contemplate speeding up the Meg is the inboard ventilated disc brakes. By moving the brakes to the inside of the chassis instead of hanging on the wheel hubs, engineers were no longer constrained by wheel size and could implement larger discs. This practice also removes a lot of unsprung mass and applies braking torque directly to the frame instead of going through the suspension arms; This last point also presents some disadvantages, but Toyota seems to be responsible for them. Megas This technology is used in the E-Type Jag, the Ferrari 312 F1 car of the 60s, the Lotus Esprit, The most expensive car ever soldAnd, of course, the H1 Hummer.

On top of that, Mega Cruisers employ full-time four-wheel drive, limited-slip center-lock diffs, and a central tire inflation system that allows the driver to adjust individual tire pressures on the fly if a larger contact patch is needed. TMC’s design also allows for approach and departure angles of 49 and 45 degrees respectively. As I expected during this experience, those numbers are higher than most 4x4s, current or otherwise.

Drive-wise, the H1 and TMC feel like mirror images of each other, save for the Toyota’s noticeable handling prowess. They likewise offer poor acceleration because the Hummer’s extra ponies have more weight to haul around. Both suffer from extremely rattly rides – a fact that’s forever front and center thanks to the acres of Plexiglas Wildside on each roof, but problem-critical changes aside, these twins aren’t built for fellows who enjoy pampering, not to mention economy in this comparison. Sounds wrong, but Toyota has quoted a figure for the MC that’s too good not to share. If you keep the MCs speedo spinning around 40 mph, they say their Goliath SUV will return 22 mpg. While MPG@40 MPH isn’t something you’ll find on a window sticker, the possibility of sniffing even 20+ in the Mega is enough to make a surplus Hummer owner, and their “always under 12 mpg, but usually more like 6-8 m’s per g ” jealous. Couple that amazing mileage with the MC’s 28.5-gallon fuel tank (depending on spec, H1s came with a 25-42-gallon capacity), and you could be looking at upwards of 600 miles between multi-swipe trips at the diesel pump.


Weighing my enlightened offroad experience against the recent $315,000 US Mega Cruiser sale brought more questions than answers.

Like most ultra-focused automobiles, the TMC is something that’s worth decent “single-family home” money to the right buyer. As uncompromising as it is for everyday use, there’s nothing that checks all the same offroad boxes. Add its once-in-a-lifetime capability to a strong mix of rarity and 90s Toyota build quality, and you’ve got pure cat nip for something.

Mega Cruiser

The interior of this military-spec model is utilitarian at best.

Alex Somers

Unless you’re one of those Toyota die-hards, the H1 may represent better value among top-shelf 4x4s. Several ex-military examples are available for under $60,000, production has been long, many are newer than an MC, the lower roof makes the whole package look better, and if you’re a big-spender, an under-hood willing to give up the trick. Wheel-steering system for the upgrade, the 2006 H1 Alfa married the Humvee silhouette with General Motors’ knockout 6.6L Duramax and Allison heavy-duty transmission for a special year. Low-mileage examples of this 300-horse, 520 lb-ft Panicle of the Hummer lineage can be had for around $200,000.

Then there’s the twin-turbo Mercedes G550 4×4 which settles at around $175,000 and has a new version coming out this year. With so many potential customers, though, other options lose favorability points for their off-the-charts “look at me” factor and shallow celebrity-type popularity. The mega cruiser is brought to you by the savvy folks behind the Camry and Prius, making it the least pretentious and most accessible member of this supergroup. In a world where the Gran Turismo generation is all grown up and taking the Japanese collector car market into the stratosphere, it might actually be time to buy low on the big ‘yota.



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