Home » Why The New Lexus GX And Every Land Cruiser Has ‘The Golden Ratio’ Wheelbase Of 112.2 Inches

Why The New Lexus GX And Every Land Cruiser Has ‘The Golden Ratio’ Wheelbase Of 112.2 Inches

Golden Wheelbase Lexus Gx
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From 80 series to 300 series, all Land Cruiser wagons for the past 30+ years have had one thing in common: A 112.2 inch wheelbase. Toyota calls this wheelbase and the overall length it dictates the “golden ratio.” The new 2024 GX550 — for which we’ll publish a review tomorrow here on The Autopian — has moved up in size slightly and occupies the same 112.2 wheelbase. In fact it’s very close dimensionally to the 80 series in most respects; but why is that wheelbase a big deal, or does it really matter?

Toyota Land Cruiser Family 001

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I recently had an opportunity to interview the GX lead engineer, Koji Tsukasaki, and among the topics of discussion arose the change in wheelbase (which has grown from 109.8 in the 4Runner and past GX) and why that change is important.

“If it’s too short, you lose straight-line stability, if it’s too long, when you are off-road you have a tendency to hit. We found that 2850 [mm] is the best balance…” he told me.

Mathematically, Toyota misses the more famous golden ratio of Euclidean fame of 1.618, but it’s very close, hovering around 1.71 depending on year (overall length divided by wheelbase). However it wasn’t the fibonacci sequence that drew out this ideal wheelbase ratio, but “cumulative experience,” according to Tsukasaki.

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“It turned out to be the most ideal…And so for us we felt that that was the appropriate wheelbase packaging to bring into this new car to achieve the same goals.”

Lexus is serious in making this model a full-fledged touring machine, and what better place to borrow than the Land Cruiser which enjoys a strong reputation for being a good sized, well rounded off-road touring machine.

More Sunset No Hdr

So why does it matter? Wheelbase, like most things, is a compromise. A small wheelbase produces a very nimble off-roader that darts around on trails with a good steering radius and a great breakover angle, preventing hangup. On road, though, they are a bit less stable, more prone to rolling both on and off-road, and are limited in their utility by their short size and the dynamic limits of such a wheelbase restricting tow capacity, cargo capacity and people capacity.

A short wheelbase also provides for a choppy ride, as the forces that activate the front and rear suspensions are more closely coupled. A long wheelbase on the other hand provides stability and ride quality both on and off-road, and allows for greater utility through volume and capacity to tow and haul, but compromises breakover and maneuverability.  

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Jeep Wrangler Earl Reign
Photo credit: Jeep

Then there is also the overall length to consider. A 112.2 inch wheelbase wouldn’t mean much on a 225 inch Suburban, as the approach and departure angles would be awful thanks to giant overhangs.

In the same vein, a longer wheelbase on a shorter overall length may net you excellent approach and departure angles, but your breakover angle and overall maneuverability would suffer.  

A good example is the relatively short 188.4 inch long Jeep Wrangler 4-door with a relatively long 118.4 inch wheelbase. With 43.9 and 37 degrees of approach and departure, respectively, it is easily one of the best in its class, owing to axles pushed to the ends of the frame, but a breakover angle of 22.6 and a large turning radius are tradeoffs. 

2024 Jeep® Wrangler Willys 2 Door
2024 Jeep® Wrangler Willys 2-door

However, a short wheelbase Wrangler Rubicon with similar approach and departure angles benefits from a more favorable wheelbase to length ratio and has a much more balanced 27.8 degrees of breakover. The tradeoff of course is that you are limited by 166 inches of off-roader with limited towing and cargo capacity and all the negatives of a short wheelbase.

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The Golden Ratio

The GX550 features a more rounded set of figures. For an overall length of 197 inches, a 112.2 inch wheelbase and similar size tires as the above Wrangler nets more modest approach and departure angles of 26 and 22, respectively, but a decent 24 degrees of breakover.

As with most things, “ideal” is relative to the intended use and personal preference. For touring, Toyota seems to have found their formula, and while the long rear ends and low departure angles are a common gripe in the Land Cruiser community (see an old 100 Series drag its rear in the clip below), it has generally proven to be a winning combination for overland travel. 

David Tracy tells me that Jeepers have a similar “golden wheelbase” of about 101.4 to 103 inches. And no, it doesn’t surprise me that it’s a totally different figure than Toyota. For one, Jeepers are weird. But more seriously, their use case is totally different, and traditional off-roading is more a priority to towing or long haul off-roading.  I will say that I think it’s interesting that the ratio of length to wheelbase on what many Jeepers consider the ideal size Jeep, the LJ, is 1.71, hmmmm.

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[Editor’s Note: I think Land Cruisers have too big of an ass, but that’s because I like doing harder off-roading than most Land Cruisers tend to see, and I can’t have that huge liability of a departure angle. I get it; if Toyota stretched the wheelbase, the belly would become a vulnerability. If they just reduced the overhang, they’d lose interior space. Do I think there’s a true perfect wheelbase? No. It depends on too many factors, like how much space that powertrain up front takes up, the packaging requirements of the cooling module you need to meet your towing requirements, the interior volume you want, the overall width you want, the capability you want — it’s a complicated thing. I personally prefer a shorter wheelbase and a shorter overall car, but I also don’t need as much interior volume, and I demand more off-road capability. -DT]. 

As for Toyota, I find it fascinating that they stick to this wheelbase with such fervor, but anything that keeps model bloat in check, especially off-road, is a win in my book.

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Michael A Lewandowski
Michael A Lewandowski
19 days ago

This irks me. Horribly. …. 112″ is not some magic number. Heck, look at the wheelbase on the various 70 series in Australia, which are typically considered the “gold standard”. None are 112. And if you want Golden Ratio… here you go. Chevy Colorado ZR2. Overall length divided by wheelbase is 1.619. I guess that means Chevy is better than Toyota. Right?…… let’s just stop this BS. With offroad, everything comes down to what works best for each person’s objectives. Everything is a trade-off. A Jeep may have a lot of fantastic attributes for rock crawling, but misses some marks for overlanding. A Toyota may hit the sweet spot for international serviceability and reliability, but lack capability in other spots. A used Ram truck that can fit a 4WheelCamper in someone’s budget may be your sauce. EVERYTHING IS A TRADE-OFF. That said – there’s a lot about the GX550 to like, and it looks like stock, it’ll be a better rig than the upcoming Land Cruiser (which, I have issue with the big 33″ tires with only 8.7″ stock clearance). And that shorter wheelbase could be glorious if you can adjust things to gain better approach/departure angles.

Mike B
Mike B
22 days ago

IMO it’s just a marketing thing for them, like touting that the LC was designed for a 25-year service life. I hear both these things parroted by fanbois all the time.

The terrain determines the ideal wheelbase, not an arbitrary formula. I’ve seen videos of Gladiators walk right up things that SWB Jeeps struggle with, and vice versa.

It all depends on the obstacle and terrain. If the trail is worn in from decades of 2 door open-diffed Jeeps, a longer wheelbase may have an easier go of it since the tires are going to hit the ruts differently.

Church
Church
22 days ago

I was going to make a rebuttal here, but the final note from David Tracy took care of that for me. “Golden ratio” doesn’t mean squat. “Golden ratio for overlanding” is what we seem to be looking at here. Which is fine!

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
23 days ago

“A short wheelbase also provides for a choppy ride, as the forces that activate the front and rear suspensions are more closely coupled.”

Citroën would like to have a word with you about this statement contradicting the driving experience of 2CV, Ami, and Dyane. My mum had a 1986 2CV Charleston, and driving over the rough or lumpy roads was smooth and unruffled. It’s due to the unique suspension design

Space
Space
24 days ago

Never thought about wheelbase in such detail before, well done.
Wish my wheelbase was shorter.

Greensoul
Greensoul
24 days ago

I had know idea a golden wheelbase existed before this article, thanks. That has got to be the butchest looking Lexus ever. I’m digging it, too.

Last edited 24 days ago by Greensoul
CTSVmkeLS6
CTSVmkeLS6
24 days ago

This looks like a nice size overall. I dig it and most ‘off roaders’ will slightly lift it and add tires. Looks similar to what I had in early 2000s (elderly millennial here) 1st gen Durango with 2” lift and skinny 32.5” ATs, it was a good compromise for me back in the day. Didn’t get hung up too much. And it had short overhangs. V8 and factory 3.23 sure grip was petty decent. Apparently a 116” wheelbase however.

Michael A Lewandowski
Michael A Lewandowski
19 days ago
Reply to  CTSVmkeLS6

That 4″ isn’t going to make or break you. Sorry. I’d bet you a Land Rover Defender 110 with its 119 wheelbase will clear some stuff with ease that the GX550 is going to break plastic on. Hell… a 200 series Land Cruiser has a 112 wheelbase and better approach and departure angles than the GX550. Have some perspective.

CTSVmkeLS6
CTSVmkeLS6
9 days ago

Good perspective! Thanks.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
24 days ago

Woo hoo! My car has the golden wheelbase!

Alec Harvey
Alec Harvey
24 days ago

I’m pretty sure the 76 Series wagon has a 107in wheelbase. But considering this originally came out in 1984 I guess they hadn’t figured out the ratio yet.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
24 days ago

Semi unrelated, but my absolute dream vehicle would be a Lexus version of the 6 speed FJ Cruiser. Why they don’t do this?!

Jake Harsha
Jake Harsha
23 days ago

The FJ, 4Runner, Prado and Lexus GX460 are all built on the same chassis.

Nicholas Adams
Nicholas Adams
24 days ago

Looking forward to ingesting a thousand reviews of this thing and then being sad that I won’t be able to afford it for 10 years.

Engine Adventures
Engine Adventures
24 days ago

I agree with all the towing, ride, and off-road characteristics mentioned. However, different wheelbases can be better in certain off-road situations as well. Of the vehicles I’ve tested, my XJ with 101.4″ wheelbase is much better in most scenarios. However, there are occasionals when taking my 2nd Gen ram 2500 with a 135″ wheelbase over a steep climb with deep ruts will often perform better because it’s so long it only has one wheel in a rut at a time as opposed to the XJ and similar sized vehicles having 2 diagonally opposing wheels in the ruts.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
24 days ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

I think you’re thinking of TRACK, or side-to-side wheel distance.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
23 days ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Not to be pedantic, but that’s track. Look at the article topshot. It illustrates what wheelbase is.

Engine Adventures
Engine Adventures
21 days ago

It really could be both. If one vehicle has a significantly different track width from whatever made the ruts, it could help to avoid ruts as well. I was referring to wheelbase though.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
24 days ago

I loved off-roading in my 1970 Jeepster Commando C101 (101″ wheelbase) 

Rod Millington
Rod Millington
24 days ago

Don’t you mean “every Land Cruiser has a golden ratio wheelbase of 2850mm”?

Also, today I learned that the four door wrangler is a big booty away from being the same size as the new Prado/GX.

Rod Millington
Rod Millington
24 days ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

I don’t think I fully realised it until I moved back to Australia from the US and didn’t have all the pickup trucks to balance it against. It also made me notice exactly how ludicrously long a Gladiator is.

Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
24 days ago
Reply to  Rod Millington

Gladiators are so long. I think the new rangers are massive, but the gladiators in comparison look silly.

Mike B
Mike B
22 days ago

The wheelbase is SO long! But sometimes it’s a plus…I’ve seen vidoes of Gladiators walking right up crazy obstacles due to that wheelbase. The front wheels pretty much get up and over the obstacle before the rear wheels even start climbing, it’s a huge plus on the steep stuff.

The ability to easily lift them and fit a 37″+ tire makes it easier to overlook the long wheelbase.

Mike B
Mike B
22 days ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Autoedits Jason did a comparison between his JKUR and GMT400 Tahoe 4 door a few years back, the JKUR actually had a larger footprint.

(Jason was a crewmember on Dirt Every Day with Fred Williams, he’s got a great YT channel called AutoEdits).

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
24 days ago

The combination of wheelbase and interior volume dictated by that rear overhang has always set out Toyota’s mission statement for the modern Land Cruiser. Which is to be the best long distance rough road touring vehicle that they can make.

Even Toyota themselves admitted during the LC300 launch that open dirt road performance was prioritised over actual 4×4 crawling because that’s what most of their customer base does with them.

Have to admit that I’m quite interested in this new Prado so I’m looking forward to the HHFP take.

Mike B
Mike B
22 days ago

The fact that it’s IFS pretty much precludes it from being a crawler anyway.

I have a gen5 4Runner, most of us in that community know that we do not have the ideal vehicle for rock crawling, but it’s a good Swiss-army knife vehicle. We give up some off-road capability for on-road comfort.

I wouldn’t take my 4R on the Rubicon, but I also wouldn’t want to drive across the country in a Wrangler.

Chronometric
Chronometric
24 days ago

Considering how much money they make on them, what is “golden” on the Land Cruiser is the winning formula of reliability, capability, reputation, and practicality that customers are willing to pay up for. Axle ratio is small coin compared to the overall package.

Waremon0
Waremon0
24 days ago

Is that Green on the GX the same that can be optioned now with a bit of metallic and gold? It is spectacular in person. If it is a new Green with less gold, then I’m an even bigger fan.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
24 days ago
Reply to  Waremon0

Good luck, from what I can tell, Lexus makes like 5 cars a year with Nori Green paint. Or at least none of them are on dealer lots…ever.

And Lexus doesn’t do special orders, so you’re stuck with a lot full of white/silver with black interiors, instead of awesome Nori Green with Saddle interior.

Waremon0
Waremon0
23 days ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

I don’t really understand the Toyota/Lexus production strategy. My neighbor has a Nori Green GX460. Did they get lucky with their dealer receiving one or did they have to have it shipped from another dealer?

What’s even the point of having a configurator on the website? Is this an artifact of their Just-in-Time production?

Actually, hey Autopian, this may be a good article. Why some mfgs let you place custom orders and Toyota does not. I’d like some insight on how it would be possible to get the exact Toyota you want. My friend had a helluva time finding a manual 3G Tacoma a few years back.

Mike B
Mike B
22 days ago
Reply to  Waremon0

From what I understand, Toyota just builds what they feel like, then sends them where they feel like. Dealers don’t get much say in what they get. If you’re looking for something in particular, they can try to find a build that most closely matches what you want.

In reality they seem to have a “you get what you get and don’t get upset” policy.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
24 days ago

Welcome Mr. sentient rodent

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