Toyota’s flagship Century sedan is often referred to as the Japanese Rolls-Royce, so that would make the upcoming Century SUV the Japanese brand’s Cullinan.

The Toyota Century SUV’s silhouette was reportedly teased during a presentation on the brand’s new Alphard and Vellfire people movers, with an image published on Autospy.

There’s a resemblance to Rolls-Royce’s first SUV. Styling is blocky with an upright roofline and what appear to be prominent shoulders, while there’s a thick, slanted D-pillar – thicker, even, than the Rolls-Royce’s.

The overall look, however, is arguably sleeker than the particularly upright Rolls.

We can also make out the split-level lighting elements front and rear, previously seen on a spied prototype, which bear a resemblance to Genesis’ lighting.

Spy photos have also shown the headlights feature cube-like internal elements, again similar to Genesis vehicles.

Japanese outlet Best Car Web reported earlier this year Toyota was working on an SUV counterpart for its iconic flagship sedan, which could be announced this year.

It may simply be called Century SUV, and sales will reportedly begin around early 2024.

Best Car Web has published expected dimensions of around 5.2m long and 1950mm wide. The longest LandCruiser 300 Series is 5015mm long and 1990mm wide, while the Tundra-derived Sequoia offered in North America is 5286mm long and 2022mm wide.

The outlet reports the ultra-luxury Century SUV will be offered with a 3.5-litre hybrid V6 powertrain and “4WD that drives the rear with an e-axle” (translated), suggesting it will use an eFour set-up as with other all-wheel drive Toyota hybrids like the RAV4.

Like the RAV4, it’ll use a front-biased all-wheel drive system and a transversely mounted engine, with expected outputs of 220kW from the petrol engine and 59kW from each electric motor.

Toyota currently uses a 3.5-litre hybrid V6 only in the rear-wheel drive Lexus LS500h and LC500h, but such a powertrain has previously been used in the front/all-wheel drive Lexus RX450h and overseas versions of the Toyota Kluger.

Toyota also offers a 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 i-Force Max hybrid in the Tundra and Sequoia with 326kW of power, while the new Lexus TX 550h+ uses a 3.5-litre V6 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain mated with a CVT and Direct4 all-wheel drive system, with a total system output of 299kW of power.

The Century sedan, in contrast, uses a 5.0-litre V8 hybrid like the old Lexus LS600h, and is available exclusively with rear-wheel drive. All three generations of the conservative Century have used rear-wheel drive.

While a front/all-wheel drive Toyota SUV with Century badging would be a shocking turn of events, there’s some precedent.

The latest generation of Crown launched not as a traditional, three-box sedan with rear-wheel drive, but rather as a high-riding fastback with all-wheel drive.

The expanded Crown family will continue to include a rear-wheel drive sedan moving forward, while also gaining a sporty crossover model and, once again, a wagon variant.

Toyota has also applied the Crown name to both the Kluger crossover and Vellfire people mover in China.

Best Car Web expects the Century SUV to be priced around 10-15 million yen (A$109-164,000). For reference, a Century in Japan starts at just over 20 million yen (A$218,720).

The Century is sold exclusively in the Japanese market, where it’s popular with high-level executives and government officials as well as the Emperor of Japan and is produced in limited volumes.

Offered only through select Toyota dealerships, it’s often finished in black with wool cloth upholstery.

Century generations tend to last a few decades. The first Century, which used a V8 engine, was sold from 1967 to 1997 and the second, which upgraded to a V12, was sold from 1997 to 2017.

A Century SUV wouldn’t be the only time an automaker has leveraged an established passenger car nameplate for an SUV, with the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the rumoured, upcoming Corvette SUV being other examples.

Manufacturers long known for only offering sports cars have also ventured into the SUV market, including Ferrari, while stalwart luxury brands like Bentley and Rolls-Royce have also developed SUVs.

William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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