Toyota’s Luxurious Century Sedan Gets an SUV Makeover
From the beginning of its production in 1967 up until earlier this year, the name “Century” has been synonymous with Toyota’s most opulent sedan. However, the prestigious moniker will now also be used for an SUV, although the Japanese automaker vehemently denies using that term to describe it. Instead, Toyota refers to it as a “new concept for chauffeur-driven mobility,” which carries a staggering price tag of $170,000 in Japan. To put this into perspective, it’s approximately five times the cost of a base JDM-spec Land Cruiser.
In an enlightening article published by the company-backed Toyota Times magazine, we gain insight into the meticulous assembly process of the not-an-SUV Century. Constructed at the Tahara Plant in Japan, this luxurious behemoth does not follow the usual inspection protocol. Instead, a master inspector is designated to conduct final checks on the entire vehicle. In the case of a regular model, multiple inspectors oversee different sections of the car. Initially, there weren’t any master inspectors qualified for this task, but now there are two.
Both master inspectors had to undergo an arduous training program in order to become certified. Since the Century SUV is not a mass-produced model, Toyota can afford to take their time with each vehicle they manufacture. Each master inspector meticulously goes through a 17-step process. Every aspect must be flawless, including the paint job and the immaculateness of the engine bay.
Furthermore, the master inspector must ensure there are no gaps or unevenness at the body panel joints. One of the two master inspectors featured in the article is Moriaki Higa, who previously conducted inspections on Lexus cars. Higa states that the standards for the Century SUV are even more stringent than those for a Lexus. He explains that while paint inspection is typically done on a sampling basis, every single vehicle of the Century SUV range undergoes a thorough analysis. Any models with paint defects are sent to the “coating clinic” for repairs.
Upon ensuring the excellence of the paint and body, the Century autonomously proceeds to a different inspection station for examination of its mechanical components. It effortlessly glides in electric mode, capitalizing on its plug-in hybrid setup. Simulated city driving conditions are recreated, allowing Toyota to complete any necessary final adjustments to the wheels and headlights. Subsequently, the posh SUV autonomously navigates to a dedicated test course, where it is driven at higher speeds to identify any peculiar noises. Notably, a new assessment protocol has been devised to analyze the vehicle’s performance in pure electric mode.
From start to finish, the entire process takes a whopping three and a half hours. Toyota anticipates selling approximately 30 units each month.
And there you have it – Toyota’s luxurious Century sedan has now transformed into an extravagant SUV, meticulously inspected and perfected by highly trained master inspectors. With its elevated price tag and uncompromising attention to detail, the Century SUV undoubtedly sets an unprecedented standard for chauffeur-driven mobility.