Toyota put the Land Cruiser nameplate on ice in America after the 2021 model year. The brand opted not to import the new J300 model with Toyota badging; we are still getting the Lexus LX 600 version, however. But curiously, at least one J300 model Toyota Land Cruiser has made it to the United States.
A Lexus dealer employee in Indiana posted photos of an uncovered J300 Toyota Land Cruiser with a Michigan manufacturer plate being loaded onto a truck on Facebook initially. That employee told The Drive that the truck driver said the cars were test vehicles. Yet Toyota confirmed to CarScoops that this particular Land Cruiser, despite the proximity to Chicago, was not heading to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show for display.
We've seen reports that Toyota intends to bring the Land Cruiser nameplate back to America, perhaps as soon as this year. But that reporting says the new Land Cruiser will be based on the new Land Cruiser Prado/Lexus GX arriving in 2023, not the J300.
Toyota typically lays a lot of groundwork — media sneak peeks, teasers, launch events, embargoed information, reveal events — before launching a new car. We can confirm we've heard nothing from Toyota suggesting a new Land Cruiser launch for America is in the works.
So why is there a J300 Land Cruiser in America then? Here's our best theory
We think this is probably a test vehicle, as the driver noted. The state of the vehicle — flat tires, what may be an ashtray in the cup holder, no attempt at camouflage whatsoever — suggests that another manufacturer is benchmarking it. (Toyota, presumably, would take better care of their own vehicle.) The other vehicles on the truck were two Jeep Wranglers and a BMW M4.
Given all that, Ford would probably make the most sense among Michigan-based outfits that would be interested in those specific vehicles. The Wranglers and Land Cruiser would both be worthy benchmarks for any of the brand's fleet of off-roaders — the Bronco, most obviously, but also the Timberline editions of the Explorer and Expedition, or the F-150 or Ranger Raptor. The M4, meanwhile, would be a good basis for comparison for any future high-performance Mustang variants based on the new S650-generation model — think a future Shelby GT350 or GT500.
The GR Sport version of the Land Cruiser would also be the best candidate for benchmarking among the J300 line. It features an Electronic-Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (E-KDSS) that independently controls the front and rear stabilizers for better performance, on-road and off. And that system is not available on the Lexus LX 600 — which could explain what was likely an extensive effort to source a LHD GR Sport Land Cruiser from another market.