The Toyota Century has been one of Japan’s most popular luxury sedans for decades. Now, Toyota has its sights set on the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, with the new Century SUV that comes with seating for only four, sports a lavish interior, and is even available with trick sliding doors.
Based on Toyota’s modular TNGA platform, the Century SUV looks eerily similar to the Cullinan. Its boxy shape, upright front end, and chunky C-pillar are all reminiscent of Rolls’ only SUV. If you only showed me the silhouette of the Century SUV, I would immediately guess it was a Cullinan.
Two model variants will be on offer when the Century SUV launches: a standard one and a sporty looking GR-badged version. Both come exclusively with four seats, and there isn’t a five-seat option. If you don’t like rear captain’s chairs, the Century SUV isn’t for you. However, since both rear seats slide and recline like first-class plane seats—and feature massive armrests with dual Windows-based tablets and entertainment screens—no one’s going to complain once inside.
Front passengers will be happy, too. The Century SUV gets Toyota’s nicest non-Lexus cabin to date, with a multi-tiered dashboard, slick-looking trim, and a big touchscreen infotainment system. The driver will be happier than the front passenger, though, with a 406-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 plug-in hybrid powertrain at their disposal. Toyota claims it can also do 33 miles of pure electric driving.
However, the neatest part of the Century SUV isn’t its first-class rear seat setup, nor is it the potent hybrid V6. Instead, the most interesting thing about Toyota’s Cullinan-fighter is its optional sliding rear doors. If you spring for the sportier GR model, it comes with doors that slide back and out, like a minivan for CEOs. If Rolls-Royce thought its rear-hinged doors were luxurious, wait ’til it gets a load of these sliders.
There’s a reason minivans have sliding doors—it makes getting humans inside easier than any other design. If you get the standard model, the rear doors open normally but up to 75-degrees, allowing rear passengers to enter and exit without ruffling their perfectly tailored suit jackets.
To keep those rear passengers extra comfy, the Century SUV features a laminated glass partition that separates the rear cabin from the cargo area, much like the Cullinan. That way, when the chauffeur gets bags out of the trunk in harsh weather, rear passengers aren’t subjected to the elements. There’s even a “Rear Comfort” driving mode that the driver can select, which tailors throttle, braking, and suspension responses to rear passenger comfort specifically.
The Century SUV isn’t replacing the sedan but will be sold alongside it. Only certain Toyota dealers will sell the SUV, and customers should be able to personalize it like its British competitors. When it goes on sale, it’ll cost around the equivalent of $170,000 in Japan. (U.S. sales aren’t in the cards, at least not yet.) That makes it less than half the price of a Cullinan to start, while packing comparable rear-seat luxury—and of course, much cooler rear doors.
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