Toyotas are known for being some best off-road vehicles ever built, but what if you need to go way off-road? No, even further. We’re talking about so far off-road that you’re not even on the planet anymore. That’s what designers at Toyota were envisioning when they came up with the Toyota Baby Lunar Rover.
Toyota recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Calty, their Southern California design studio that has put the sheetmetal on everything from the 1978 Celica to the 2024 Tacoma. Along the way, there have been some real stunners like the original Lexus SC300/400 and the Lexus LC. Toyota was the first carmaker to establish a studio in the epicenter of American car culture, and to honor half a century of that they’re looking to the future with an electric 4×4 that will go off-world.
As fantastical as that sounds, there is precedent for this. In 2020 Toyota announced they were developing a moon rover called the Lunar Cruiser in partnership with JAXA, Japan’s equivalent of NASA. Like that vehicle, the Baby Lunar Cruiser takes a few heritage cues from the FJ40 Land Cruiser. That includes wraparound glass at the rear corners and the wide grille with the classic Helvetica “TOYOTA” logo in front. In the BLC’s case, the grille doubles as housing for cameras and radar and lidar sensors.
The FJ40s all had white-painted roofs to keep the cabin cool in remote jungle or desert climates. The BLC has a white roof too, which may come in handy if the terrain it’s traveling on has no atmosphere to protect it from the sun at all — lunar temperatures can vary from 250 degrees Fahrenheit in sun to minus-200 in shade. The BLC even has the Land Cruiser’s traditional split tailgate at the rear, something the 2024 model lacks.
The BLC is electric, powered by in-wheel motors at all four corners. That’s probably a wise choice, considering gasoline might be a tad difficult to come by when not driving on Earth. The interior is packed with MOLLE panels for attaching exploration gear, and the vehicle is controlled in-car by two joysticks, or remotely via VR.
For now the Baby Land Cruiser is just a “what if,” but it’s fun to imagine what kind of vehicle would make the ultimate overlander. Toyota Land Cruisers have already driven on all seven continents on Earth, so the moon is the next logical step. It might be 300,000 miles away, but if the listings on used car sites are any indication, that’s nothing for an old Toyota truck.
Related: How Detroit automakers helped land man on the moon