Bad news, everyone. One of the most venerated names in overlanding vehicles — the Toyota Land Cruiser –could be leaving the U.S. market.
If true, dropping the Land Cruiser would be a sad turn of events — but not too surprising. The Land Cruiser has been in an odd stasis; it’s too low-volume to update, but too venerable and profitable to drop from the lineup. In addition, the current Land Cruiser feels like an anachronism; the J200 generation began production in 2007, which means it predates both the Great Recession and heightened concerns about climate change. Nothing screams mid-2000s more than getting 13 mpg in the city, except maybe bootcut jeans.
Besides being from another, simpler automotive time, the Land Cruiser is expensive. It comes in one luxurious trim, starting at $85,165. Even if you justify that price with its build quality and capability, the Land Cruiser is in a terrible market position. Paying that much for a Toyota is too much of a leap for American buyers. That, after all, is why Toyota created a more premium Lexus brand — and the Land Cruiser’s position makes even less sense when you can buy virtually the same car in Lexus LX 570 form for only a few thousand dollars more.
A smart move might be to move the Land Cruiser nameplate to a smaller, cheaper vehicle — perhaps the next-generation Land Cruiser Prado (known here as the Lexus GX). Even superficially paring down the Land Cruiser with the Heritage edition felt refreshing. Going downmarket would bring the Land Cruiser more in-line with Toyota’s other off-roaders like the Tacoma and the 4Runner, and put that off-road capability in front of the booming market that would use it.