During and after the war, utility vehicles were widely used because of their tested toughness, reliability and off-road performance and they were particularly popular among the military men and irregular forces. In Japan, Toyota, the leading Japanese auto manufacturer was tasked by the government to build a light truck that can be used for the military campaign. The first model developed was a prototype, the 2-ton AK10, however the production was not successful. Instead, import utility vehicles were used in the Pacific region. In 1950, however, the Korean War created demands for utility vehicles and this time, Toyota took another chance of creating Jeep-type vehicles for the Japanese National Police Reserve Force. These military vehicles were named Model BJ and in 1954, were renamed as the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Bigger than the Jeep and more powerful (with its 2.2 L truck engine and the latter 3.8 L 125-horsepower gas engine), the Land Cruiser was ready to cruise its way to the battleground and through rough terrains. Proof of its excellent driving abilities, Toyota Land Cruiser climbed up the sixth station of Mount Fuji in 1951 and it was the first vehicle to reach this far. Eight years after its production, it was brought to the US in soft-top, open and pickup versions. Soon it was a best-selling Toyota until 1965. From 1980, only the five-door wagon version was sold in the US. What started out as utility vehicles are now offered as sport utility vehicles with more advanced styling and on-road and off-road capabilities. A more familiar modern-looking Land cruiser was introduced in 1991. This model was bigger and more luxurious than earlier Land Cruisers. It also got a full-time four wheel drive and fully independent four-wheel coil spring suspension.
The fifth and the latest generation of Toyota Land Cruiser debuted in 1998. It was larger, heavier and more powerful than the past Land Cruisers. It was the first Toyota branded vehicle to get a V8 4.7 L 230-horsepower 320-lb-ft torque engine). Among the added performance and comfort features to the new line of Land Cruisers were the independent rear automatic climate control system, active traction control, vehicle skid control, electronic brake force distribution, six-disc in-dash CD player, DVD navigation system, standard third row seats and other plush amenities. For the 2005 Land Cruiser year model, Toyota offers only a 4-door, 8-passneger luxury 4X4 model. This model features a highly advanced 4WD system with a locking center differential that applies torque to the axle with the most traction.