The Toyota Land Cruiser is probably the gold-standard among rugged, body-on-frame off-roaders — if perhaps not in all-around capability versus the new Mercedes G-Wagen, then certainly in build quality. The new generation is due to arrive soon, even if it does not appear in the U.S. as a Toyota. And it could, potentially, get a challenger from a place you wouldn’t expect.
Hyundai Motor Group (comprised of Hyundai, Kia and Genesis) has been taking on established brands in segments like luxury sedans and crossovers, and winning World Car of the Year Awards in the process. According to Hyundai’s Head of Global Product Management Lorenz Glaab, the company is monitoring the off-roader segment — and “can move pretty fast” if there’s an opportunity.
"I mean, from a brand perspective, obviously that is thinkable,” Glaab said, according to ZigWheels. “Now, whether it makes sense and what region and what concepts remain to be seen. But nothing can be excluded. We monitor, and there is some dynamism in that segment... we are very much aware of that. We monitor very closely, and if we believe there is an opportunity for us, we can move pretty fast."
Not ruling out developing a badass, body-on-frame Land Cruiser competitor is a long way from confirming one is heading to production. But it may not be as far off a possibility as one might think.
Kia is reportedly developing a Humvee-like military vehicle based on its body-on-frame Mohave SUV (sold briefly and unsuccessfully in the U.S. as the Borrego). It’s not inconceivable that that vehicle could be toned down and luxed up for civilian consumption. And having military contracts to cover much of the vehicle’s development cost could make development far more likely.
Is there an opportunity? Well, Hyundai, Kia and Genesis have excelled by offering cars with the look and feel of premium models for less. And if there’s one vehicle ripe to be undercut on price, it’s the Land Cruiser —which may be getting even more expensive with the new generation.