Toyota claimed the “World’s Fastest SUV” title with its modified Land Cruiser when it hit 230 miles per hour at Mojave’s Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. Thanks to the guest expert driver, former NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, the feat was completed in just two tries. But it could have gone faster.
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Toyota custom built their vehicle by taking the Land Cruiser’s base 381 horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine and modifying it with two big turbochargers. This increased the 2,000 horsepower vehicle’s power over five-folds.
Along with the massive upgrade in horsepower, the SUV had its tires widened as well as a dropped suspension so it could hug the asphalt as it reached the speed of a high-end sports car.
Edwards, a lifelong car enthusiast, flew into the airport whose 2.5 mile runway was used to conduct the test. On his first run, Edwards was only able to get the modified SUV to 211 miles per hour. Of course, it was his first time, so he was probably just getting his bearings.
On his second try, history was made. After engineers modified the vehicle to fit Edwards’ driving skill, he hit 230 miles per hour. If he hadn’t run out of pavement on the runway, Edwards thinks he could have gone well over the record speed.
“I wanted the Land Speed Cruiser to provide the confidence you need, as a driver, to keep pushing even when the world around you becomes a high-speed blur,” he said. “We made some setup adjustments, and it not only accelerates and shifts more smoothly, but it also has enhanced stability.”
It may have required a bit more tinkering by the engineers to hit a higher speed than 230 miles per hour, but Edwards says he is proud to be a part of this massive accomplishment. ‘At 225 mph, the thing was wandering a little bit. All I could think was that Craig said, “No matter what, just keep your foot in it,” and we got 230 mph.’
There have been other feats similar to this speed accomplishment with vehicles other than SUVs. In 2015, Bentley’s unmodified car hit 187 miles per hour on a test track driven by actor Idris Elba. And last Sept, Volkswagen’s heavily modified 2014 Beetle Turbo R-Line car hit a speed of 205 miles per hour.