Toyota’s most iconic SUV nameplate will return to the U.S. market, the automaker confirmed Tuesday.
While the 200 Series Land Cruiser wasn’t a huge seller in the grand scheme of Toyota’s U.S. sales volume, it nonetheless claimed a ferociously loyal fan base. Those folks were rightly upset when the company decided not to bring the 300 Series to our shores, but now it seems Toyota will set things right: The flagship Land Cruiser will return to the United States.
But (there’s always a “but”, isn’t there)…it likely won’t happen the way you think. Toyota may not simply bring the 300 Series over here as a counterpart to the Lexus LX 600. Instead, the automaker’s Instagram teaser shows off a range of badges used on smaller offerings over the decades, not least of which is the FJ40 (as well as the 20, 60 and 70 Series, among others).
“Nothing better than a comeback story,” the caption says. “The legend returns…”
Pretty clear-cut, and something we’re definitely excited about either way. The rumor mill has been abuzz with the Land Cruiser’s return to North America ever since it left, with the latest reports suggesting we’ll see something based on the brand-new Lexus GX 550. Or, if you’re a major Toyota buff and know about the Land Cruiser Prado, we’ll get a market-specific version of that SUV, when it sees an overhaul (hopefully in the next few months).
If the new Land Cruiser is like the GX, here’s what we can expect
Like past models, we’d fully expect this new Land Cruiser to sport a body-on-frame construction. However, powertrains could be a different story. It’s entirely possible we could see a twin-turbocharged V6 engine like the Lexus GX 550, putting out around 350 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. Some folks also believe Toyota will instead use the engine from the Tacoma (and other midsize SUVs), which is a 2.4-liter unit capable of 278 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque.
If Toyota plans to stage the U.S. Land Cruiser as a flagship SUV, then it’s more likely we’ll see a similar powertrain to what’s in the GX as well as the Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV. Doing so would leave some market gap for the 4Runner to live on, though the revelation of a Prado-like SUV brings into question whether Toyota aims to phase out its other midsize SUV here.
One guess we have is that Toyota may indeed keep the 4Runner and base it on the Tacoma (including its powertrains), further separating it from the GX lineup and the old Land Cruiser Prado, with which the current 4Runner shares its bloodline. In this new paradigm, the Toyota-to-Lexus relationships may more or less look like this:
- Toyota Tacoma –> Toyota 4Runner
- Lexus GX –> Toyota Land Cruiser (with or without the “Prado” name)
- Lexus LX –> Toyota Sequoia
Toyota may be looking to bring a more affordable (and hopefully popular) Land Cruiser option since the last one carried an $85,000-or-so price tag by the time the automaker withdrew it from the market. With the brand’s current SUV lineup ranging between $40,000 and $80,000 and the LX running upwards of $92,000, I think there’s enough room in the lineup to accommodate both the 4Runner and Land Cruiser, but we’ll have to wait for more details.
Let us know what you think!