The 100 series debuted despite no apparent loss in popularity of the 80 series prestige SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) which was at the pinnacle of its success. The luxuriousness even above the 80 series was aimed at being the world's top level and became an instant success.
In 1998 the Land Cruiser 80-series underwent a model change resulting in the release of a new series, the Land Cruiser 100. By this time the name Land Cruiser had earned a strong reputation worldwide for its high performance on bad roads, maneuverability, durability; and as one of the most reliable 4x4s available it had been selected by the United Nations procurement, as well as domestically and overseas for rescue operations, as a relay vehicle for satellite broadcasting, and as a prestige SUV.
For the wagon version a new 2UZ-FE-type V8 gasoline engine was developed, with 32 valves, a piston displacement of 4,663cc, 235PS and 43.0kgm in the specs. For the van model also a new 1HD-FTE-type diesel engine was developed, a 24-valve in-line 6-cylinder engine with a piston displacement of 4,163cc, an output of 205PS and 44.0kgm of torque. Both of these new engines were state-of-the-art power units engineered for low fuel consumption and low emissions.
The front suspension was a double wishbone type independent suspension, and with rack and pinion steering, the Land Cruiser 100 was designed to feel more like a passenger car than its heavy-duty predecessors. To further improve riding comfort and steering stability, hydraulic vehicle height adjustment (AHC) and Skyhook TEMS in the suspension were also made available as options, clearly aiming at improved performance on paved roads.
The interior was luxurious of course, with air-conditioning and an audio system befitting a luxury car.
In 1999, well-received systems like Active TRC (Traction Control System) and the vehicle stability system VSC were added to the 90-series Prado. Then in 2000, along with minor changes and improvements introduced, for theft prevention an engine immobilizer system and other security systems were added to all grades as standard equipment.
Though the Land Cruiser 100 continues to evolve on the path of the passenger car, there are still users overseas who drive it off-road. To meet these needs such as in Australia and other rugged environments, Toyota has created a Land Cruiser 105-series with rigid coil springs in the suspension. No matter how much it takes on the aura of luxury, the Land Cruiser is never far from its roots as an off-road vehicle.