7 min read
25 Nov

Toyota Century has been a symbol of exquisite luxury and grandeur since its debut in the land of the rising sun in 1967. The nameplate is comparable to the British Rolls-Royce and Bentley, known for its opulence and traditional Japanese craftsmanship. The Century is so exclusive and rooted in Japanese culture that it’s sold only in Japan and never in Nigeria or even the colossal North American market. Now that the Century is undergoing a monumental transformation from a stately sedan to a lordly flagship SUV, the world outside Japan couldn’t help but dogeza

On September 6, 2023, Toyota gave the world a glimpse of what the new king of Japanese SUVs might look like. Retaining the design cues of its sedan predecessor, the Century SUV introduces an even greater level of luxury, replacing its Rolls-Royce-style doors with more extravagant features. Under the hood, there's talk of a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain powered by a twin-turbocharged V6, a departure from Century’s original hybrid V8 and V12 engines. 

With these unprecedented changes comes a new dawn in the Century’s enduring legacy of exclusivity. The vehicle will finally travel beyond Japanese shores to a select few owners around the world. This is not just Toyota's but Japan's most luxurious SUV, and it's such a shame that we most likely won’t see it in showrooms in Nigeria, even though it's, by far, cheaper than the exotic Lamborghini Urus

See also: 5 Crucial Facts About Toyota's First-Ever Crown SUV: The 2025 Crown Signia 

What Is The 2024 Toyota Century?

What is the 2024 Toyota Century?

First, is the 2024 Toyota Century an SUV? Toyota still wouldn’t call it an SUV, choosing instead to keep referring to the term “chauffeur-driven mobility.” 

Perhaps, pursuing a design direction to fulfill then-Toyota president Toyoda’s vision, as relayed to Century’s special development team, to “come up with new value to ensure that the Century continues to meet customer expectations of chauffeur-driven mobility,” ultimately led designer Tatsuya Sonoda to create a vehicle that speaks more volume in functionality than categorization. 

Everyone would call the latest 2024 Century an SUV because it neither has the conventional aesthetics of a car nor the traditional styling of a wagon or even a pick-up. But when Toyota says we should look again, we can't help but wonder if we shouldn't banish the thought of dismissing the company's refusal to admit the Century is an SUV. If not an SUV, then what is it? 

The Toyota Century's development chief  Yoshikazu Tanaka remembers President Toyoda's directive to “bring new value to the Century” because “more and more young people see the Century as a car for the boss, not for them.” 

For all intents and purposes, the new 2024 Century veers further away from this directive than closer to it. Not only is this a vehicle that everyone immediately calls an SUV when they see it, but it was also designed for chauffeured driving, hardly a concept targeted at young drivers. 

Of course, we looked again and concluded that the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Bentley Bentayga are all either “Chauffeur-Driven Mobility (CDM)” or they’re all luxury sport-utility vehicles (SUVs)

The 2024 Toyota Century Will Be Sold Outside Japan

The 2024 Toyota Century will be sold outside Japan.

Going by Toyota Motor Corp. Executive Vice President Hiroki Nakajima’s speech at Century’s unveiling in Tokyo two months ago, the Toyota Century, at least the new SUV model, is no longer a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) exclusively. 

Nakajima remarked that the plug-in Century’s design “from the start had its eye on the world.” This is contrary to pundits’ expectations, considering the marque’s longstanding tradition of focusing on creating models targeted at Japan’s elites.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Nakajima confirmed that the new Century will be "offered to customers in all regions of the world." Clearly, the Century chauffeur-driven mobility has its eyes not on our pockets but on the world's hallowed respect. 

Considering the planned production of a little over two dozen a month, a goodly portion of which will be Japan-focused right-hand drives, Toyota's decision to introduce Century to the world outside Japan is clearly more about brand recognition than economic expansion. 

It's either that or Toyota is subtly testing the waters and, at the same time, giving the world a taste of Japan's most luxurious nameplate just before lampooning a segment currently dominated by the Bentayga and Cullinan. Experts are already drawing similarities in features and pricing between the Japanese Phoenix and the British Spirit of Ecstasy. 

Though Century will travel to “all regions of the world,” Toyota is not about to break its decades-long tradition of a hand-made Century on Japanese soil. In other words, the vehicle will continue to be manufactured in Japan - a few tens a month. 

Only select dealers will stock the vehicles in Japan and Toyota hasn't revealed the marketing plans in markets elsewhere, including North America. Considering the exclusivity and limited production, we don't expect to see the Century cruising Abuja roads anytime soon. 

See also: Best Features of the 2024 Lexus RX 450h+: KBB's Best Luxury Hybrid SUV for 2023/2024 

How Much Is The Most Luxurious Toyota SUV In Nigeria?

The 2024 Toyota Century is the most luxurious Toyota SUV.

Before the Century, the Toyota Sequoia was the most expensive and luxurious Toyota SUV sold outside Japan, including Nigeria. 

The 2023 Toyota Sequoia starts at $59,960 (around N49 million at N813/$), while pricing for the 2024 model ranges from $60,875 (around N49.5 million) to $78,710 (around N64 million) to get started. 

If you believe Toyota will lose out by not making the Century available for worldwide markets, you might want to reconsider. 

We don't see the Century SUV's emphasis on chauffeured transportation and rich Japanese heritage being enough to persuade international customers to spend the equivalent of 25,000,000 yen to take one home. 

At current exchange rates, this translates to approximately $170,000 (roughly N138 million), putting the Century SUV in the same league as the Bentley Bentayga, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and other high-end SUVs. 

Sadly, even billionaires in Nigeria are unlikely to own the stately Century even if they can afford it and are happy to pay N138,000,000 for it, even though Toyota said the model is prepped for export outside Japan. 

When Toyota said the vehicle would be offered to a "select few" outside Japan, you can be sure they chose their words carefully. So, everyone else will have to make do with the satisfyingly rich and powerful Toyota Sequoia, or you can even look beyond the SUV segment to the jet-like Lexus LM, the most luxurious minivan you've ever seen

The 2024 Toyota Century's Power And Performance

2024 Toyota Century hybrid powertrain.

Details of the 2024 Century’s powertrain are currently somewhat vague. There's talk of a horizontally-positioned 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a plug-in hybrid system, an all-wheel drive, and rear-wheel steering. 

These specs are strikingly similar to Lexus's brand-new three-row TX SUV’s powertrain, boasting 406 horsepower and a maximum of 33 miles of electric-only drive range at its highest level. 

The parallels between this Century model and the TX may not go further than their structural and mechanical similarities, considering the TX is manufactured in the US while the Century SUV is made at Toyota's Tahara factory in Japan. 

You'd remember the aforementioned '92 Century cross-country sedan received motivation from a 4.8-liter V8 with nothing – not one bolt, nut, or gasket shared with any other Toyota product. 

With just 30 units planned for production each year, each model could be hand-made, whether it rode on the TX's architecture or not. 

However, if the Century rides on Toyota’s TNGA platform underpinning other Toyota brands like the Highlander, it makes sense that the Century export models will share interchangeable parts with other Toyota brands. 

The 2024 Toyota Century SUV's Bespoke Design

2024 Toyota Century design and customization.

The new Century SUV maintains many of the sedan’s distinctive design elements, and Toyota says the Century sedan will continue to be available along with this fresh body style. 

Consequently, the new Century SUV's design is boxy and understated. Despite its size comparable to many full-size SUVs, it only accommodates four passengers, with the rear seats offering a range of reclining options and features such as an entertainment system and a unique driving mode designed to minimize braking shocks for those in the back seats. 

Based on Toyota's specifications, the Century matches the three-row TX’s size, even though it only accommodates two rows of seating for a maximum of four adults. 

The Century’s dimensions are remarkably ample, measuring 204.9 inches in length, 78.3 inches in width, and 71 inches in height. Despite these dimensions, the wheelbase is surprisingly short at 116.1 inches – shorter than the midsize 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan (and identical to the TX). 

Rear passengers sit almost over the rear axle, deep within the cabin, which explains the perceived extra space in the back compared to an S-Class. 

See also: The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Is Grander Than The Highlander 

Besides Century's surprising move beyond Japan, the luxury SUV's touted customization options are the next kicker. 

Not only can customers choose from a variety of paint colors, interior materials, seat arrangements, and more, but they can also modify the SUV’s core features, including the possibility of swapping the extra-wide rear doors, which open up to 75 degrees, with minivan-style sliding rear doors (though these appear to provide a smaller exit opening than their traditional counterparts). These sliding doors add a peculiar but appealing touch. 

2024 Toyota Century doors.

Another thing to look forward to is a sportier Century GR version, marking the first time Toyota's Gazoo Racing sub-brand is pitching its tent around this chauffeur-driven vehicle. While the thought of a Gazoo-modified chauffeur car is perplexing, we can’t deny the almost amorous curiosity of what larger wheels and blackout trim will look like on the Century. 

But that’s not all. Toyota also presented a four-door convertible version of the Century at the Tokyo unveiling - a surprising move obviously intended to highlight the Century’s limitless customization options. Until now, the only known Century convertible belonged to the Emperor of Japan, and it wasn't an - well, SUV. 

The Toyota Century’s Logo Means Immortality

2024 Toyota Century's logo.

Just like Lexus carries its own logo, the Century SUV flaunts a unique logo denoting its "immortal" nature. The Phoenix logo, inspired by Asian mythology and the Imperial House of Japan, is a widely recognized symbol throughout Asia and even in notable locations like the Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. 

Though a Toyota brand, Century is as unique as Lexus and as exclusive as McLaren Senna or Bugatti. The name "Century" honors the 100th birthday of Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda, born on February 14, 1867. 

We hear Toyota plans to make just 30 Century SUVs per month as if it isn't exclusive enough as a Japan-focused model. The Century sedan, associated with the hou-ou (Phoenix), holds great significance and is favored by notable figures, including the Japanese Prime Minister and the Imperial House of Japan. 

In Japanese culture, the hou-ou is a mythical bird often depicted as a majestic creature resembling a combination of different bird species, including the peacock, pheasant, and crane. 

2024 Toyota Century Phoenix logo.

The hou-ou's message of immortality comes from both indigenous Japanese beliefs and China's cultural influences. Similar to its portrayal in Chinese culture, the hou-ou is believed to possess the ability to live for an exceptionally long time, often reaching thousands of years. 

It is considered a symbol of eternal life, resurrection, and spiritual transcendence. Contextually, Toyota would dominate any list of “eternal” cars. Hagerty had this to say about the V8-powered 1992 Toyota Century sedan; 

“If you want an interesting, generally reliable oddball to see a lot of miles in, the Toyota Century is a good way to go.” 

In Japanese culture, the hou-ou represents not only immortality but also virtues such as beauty, grace, nobility, and loyalty, three qualities that describe the Century to a T. 

The creature's association with the Imperial House of Japan further enhances its significance. It is considered sacred and closely linked to the emperor, who is regarded as a symbol of continuity and the unbroken lineage of the imperial family. Is it surprising that Century has been going strong for nearly six decades after replacing the Crown Eight in 1967?

* The email will not be published on the website.