New Toyota Ponam-31 Sports Utility Cruiser Goes Where No Cars Have Gone Before

If you're prone to stating “Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads,” either your name's Doc Brown or you're the proud owner of a new Toyota Ponam-31. This 31-ft long, twin-engined “sports utility cruiser” seats 12 comfortably and yes, as a matter of fact it IS a boat.

It's also not the first boat to bear the Toyota nameplate – the well-known Japanese automaker launched (pun intended) the Ponam-28 back in 1997. All of Toyota's marine vehicles, for want of a better word, feature automotive engines specifically tuned to suit use in watery environments.

The aluminum-hulled  Ponam-31, for example, is powered by a pair of 3.0-litre, direct-injection diesel engines derived from the powerplant used since 2000 in the Land Cruiser Prado. The engines differ from their landlubber origins, featuring optimized turbochargers, intercoolers and fuel injectors tuned to reduce emissions, noise and vibration to the bare minimum.

Though unmistakably a boat, the Ponam-31 boasts a number of car-like styling cues if one knows where to look. The upper rear deck rail, for instance, evokes the aerodynamic sweep of a trunklid spoiler.

The Ponam-31 also incorporates ergonomic design features tried and tested in Toyota's extensive range of road-going vehicles. One of these optional attributes is Toyota Drive Assist but we're pretty sure the Toyota Virtual Anchor System never did nor will appear in a Corolla or Camry anytime soon. If you're wondering, this ingenious automatic piloting control system is designed to hold the Ponam-31 in a set position and/or bow heading.

All the better for the captain, crew and passengers to enjoy the good life without the vagaries of rogue waves and such rocking the boat. The spacious cabin below the flying bridge is almost car-like in luxury while the sofa and counter can be conveniently arranged in a number of configurations. Toyota's new Ponam-31 just went on sale in Japan priced starting at 29,700,000 yen (around $278,500). “My other boat is a Toyota” bumper stickers? Priceless.