Toyota Doesn't Know What To Do With The Land Cruiser In The U.S.

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The Toyota Land Cruiser is reportedly dead in the U.S. after the current generation has trucked through the last 12 years on sale, mostly unchanged. Letting go isn’t easy, though, and reports indicate Toyota is now trying to figure out what, exactly, a modern Land Cruiser should be for the model to make a future comeback.

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The current-generation Land Cruiser was launched in 2008, but it’s been a fantastic truck during that time. The average new Land Cruiser owner reportedly keeps their vehicle for over 11 years, suggesting reliability and strong customer loyalty, and it still beats new competitors like the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in off-road tests. For its purpose on paper, there hasn’t been a lot of reason to dramatically change anything on the Land Cruiser in a while, except its lagging sales.

It was rumored back in October that the Land Cruiser would no longer be sold in the U.S. after the 2022 model year, and Car And Driver reported a dealer source confirmed it was dead after 2021 last month:

But now we’ve spoken with a partner in a large dealer franchise who confirmed that 2021 is the end of the trail for Toyota’s iconic SUV. But, thankfully, maybe not for long.

“It’s gone for 2022, but I think it’ll be back soon, and way more modern and luxurious,” he told us. The current Land Cruiser—the 200-series, in Cruiser parlance—dates to the 2008 model year and is (over)due for major improvements, especially on the fuel-economy front, where its 14 mpg EPA combined rating is doing Toyota’s fleet average no favors.

The source of the information is already teasing a comeback for the Land Cruiser as a more luxurious model with “modern” upgrades. If this is Toyota’s plan, which we don’t know if it actually is and won’t know for a while yet, it’s likely in response to the significant price of the current Land Cruiser. It starts at just under $86,000 and gets 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, only comes in four colors, and by the time you buy one in 2021, the basic design will technically be on its fourth president.

Those new modern features on a future Cruiser likely include stuff the current truck doesn’t have, like decent fuel economy, probably some sort of integrated driver assistance systems beyond tacked-on cameras and maybe some advanced off-roading tech. If it does come back, I expect a much “softer” approach to the interior, too. I’d wager stuff like a digital gauge cluster, some bullshit replacement for the current hand shifter, nicer materials and likely some improvement in cargo volume.

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For any improvement in fuel economy, we should expect those earlier rumors of the Land Cruiser losing its current V8 engine offering to sadly come true, with a turbocharged V6 replacement and a future hybrid model supposedly being considered. Meanwhile, Jeep just introduced its V8 Wrangler with the Rubicon 392 model (starting at around $77,000), while Ford has confirmed the new Bronco likely won’t ever be offered with anything greater than a V6.

That would make it seem like there’s plenty of demand in the off-road market for Toyota to go any direction it likes with the next Land Cruiser, if they engineer it to last another decade and actually spend some time marketing it to people this time around.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik

DISCUSSION

andrewdaisuke
Andrew Daisuke

There’s a relatively small group of people willing to pay 90K for a new Toyota, and they’re smart, keep their vehicles for a long time, don’t like flashy crap (no Range Rovers), want a die hard reliable rig for their family (again, Range Rovers are out), and 90K on a family daily driver is nothing to them.

Toyota is delusional if they think somehow making it more “luxurious” is going to give it higher sales numbers. The only thing that it needs are like you said, an engine from this decade, and a new modern transmission, that pair is obviously going to be debuted on the new 4Runner first, which is just a baby Land Cruiser at this point.