Toyota Land Cruiser 300 gets miniaturized Chinese doppleganger

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Images of what appears to be a shrunken Toyota Land Cruiser 300-series have surfaced in China. The actual Land Cruiser 300, which Toyota deprives us of in the U.S. to feed us the Lexus LX 600 instead, is a worldwide hit. Waiting lists can extend up to four years in some regions. If you can’t wait to get your hands on one, perhaps the miniaturized one can carry you over.

The pocket Cruiser was spotted by Carscoops on the social media site Weibo, where it was posted without much additional information. The triple chrome bars, U-shaped grille and headlights are unmistakably 300-series Land Cruiser, though. The similarities extend to the back where diagonal cut taillights and rear graphic mimic those on the real Cruiser. While the elements are there, the proportions are all off, giving the impression of a raisin-fied Land Cruiser.

Even the name, Kuluze, is the literal English translation of the Chinese characters for “Cruiser.” Mandarin translations of English names usually try to use existing Chinese characters that sound as close as possible phonetically, but those words sometimes make no sense when strung together. In those cases, approximations that sound close enough but have a better meaning are used instead. In the case of Cruiser it literally means “cool road”. Kuluze is like having Google Translate convert something in English to another language, then copying and pasting the result back into Google Translate and converting it to English again.

Even commenters on Weibo seem pretty amused by the car. Some are calling it a “Beijing grandpa’s car” while others make fun of it being a kindergarten drop-off vehicle. These are allusions to the fact that the Kuluze is likely a light electric vehicle not dissimilar to a golf cart. They typically cost less than $1000, have a top speed of under 30 mph, and have a range of about 30 miles. They don’t require the same licensing rules as cars, and are often used by the elderly to get around town and to help drop off grandchildren at school. 

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In that vein, it would seem that the articles deriding the Kuluze as a shameless copy of the Land Cruiser are a bit off-base. No one’s going to mistake it for a serious 4×4 that’s traveled on every continent. Think of it more as an homage, like one of those golf carts that look like a Hummer or an Escalade, and those can cost up to $12,000. If the grandparents are going to bomb around the city on the cheap, why not let them do it with some pizzazz?

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