The Land Cruiser nameplate never really set the sales charts on fine in the United States. The last model sold was the 200 Series which never really matched the sales intended by the company; therefore, when the new 300 Series was released, Toyota made the decision to not bring the Land Cruiser Stateside.
However, recent rumors have suggested that the Land Cruiser nameplate is making its way back to the U.S. Toyota acknowledges the history behind the name and believes that with a few tweaks, the Land Cruiser could sell incredibly well in a country that loves off-road vehicles. So far, rumors have suggested that the Land Cruiser that the U.S. will receive could be the Prado. However, recent speculations suggest that a much more exciting model could be hitting American soil. Let’s have a look at what we know so far.
Why The Land Cruiser Never Sold Well In The U.S.
The reason Land Cruiser sales have never been steller in the U.S. is rather obvious. You see, upon release, the original Land Cruiser was a vehicle built for utility. A bare-bones work machine that could cross continents and conquer wars. As the years progressed, the vehicle got larger and more luxurious in the United States. However, most of the world continued to receive bare-bones trim levels or tougher alternatives like the 70 Series model. This kept the Land Cruiser spirit alive.
Now, in the United States, Toyota decided to offer the Land Cruiser exclusively as a luxury SUV. This movement placed the Land Cruiser in direct competition with models like the Range Rover and the Mercedes G-Wagon. While the Land Cruiser was certainly adequate in terms of driving characteristics and features, it wasn’t adequate when it came to brand image. Most people who spend upwards of $100,000 dollars on an SUV want the brand that made that SUV to reflect its price tag.
Therefore, they most often go for cars like Range Rovers, Mercedes, or Lexus. Very few will choose a Toyota at that price point and in this specific market. So, simply put, the Land Cruiser was positioned in the wrongly within the American auto market. However, this may be about to change.
Why The Rumoured Prado Isn’t The Correct Land Cruiser To Sell In The U.S.
Rumors so far have suggested that the Land Cruiser coming to the USA will be the Prado. In case you aren’t aware, the Prado is a smaller version of the Land Cruiser that is sold in most parts of the world but not the USA. However, it is a nearly identical vehicle to the Lexus GX and its underpinnings are very similar to that of the 4Runner.
This is the main reason why the Prado shouldn’t make its way over to the USA. If it does, Toyota will offer the Prado which is essentially the exact same vehicle as the Lexus GX and 4Runner. It offers the same capabilities, similar equipment, and a similar price tag. Therefore, all three vehicles will compete within the same segment making such a move redundant. So it begs the question, if the Prado isn’t the correct choice, what is?
The Types Of Vehicles The U.S. Market Loves
Before we give some exciting speculations away, let’s take a look at the 4x4s the U.S. market loves. Some of the most famous ones are the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Gladiator, Ford Bronco, Toyota 4Runner, and the Toyota Tacoma. What do all these vehicles have in common? Well, aside from fantastic off-road capability, they fit perfectly within the lifestyle marketplace. They are cool and unique-looking trucks that often share the image of a person who loves the outdoors.
These vehicles aren’t just another SUV or trucks similar to models such as the luxurious Lexus GX. The correct word here is “character.” These vehicles have character as they stand out from the crowd. A perfect example of this might be the FJ Cruiser. Underneath it was very similar to a 120 series Prado but on the outside, it was completely different. It boasted retro looks and a quirky interior that captured the hearts of buyers. We believe that this is the route Toyota could be taking with the new Land Cruiser.
Does A Derivative Of The Iconic 70 Series Land Cruiser Make More Sense?
The 70 Series Land Cruiser is sold in areas of the world mostly for work purposes. It is a stripped-down, bare-bones Land Cruiser with solid front and rear axles and minimal technology. It is a vehicle meant to withstand abuse while tackling harsh terrain. Now, in its current form, the 70 series won’t sell well in the U.S. as buyers want more amenities. However, with a few additions, the 70 could be an instant hit. There are two possibilities here, let’s have a look.
The first possibility is that the U.S. will receive an updated version of the current 70 which is said to undergo changes soon and makes its return to the Japanese market. It is possible that the vehicle for the USDM market may be based on a 70 series chassis which means solid front and rear axles but may offer different engines to suit the U.S. market. The interior may also offer added comforts and luxuries. However, it will still be basic. Remember, the Land Cruiser needs to sit at a similar price tag as the 4Runner in order to be purchased by off-road enthusiasts.
While the first option is possible, it may be a bit too optimistic. So, what do we have as a second option? Well, we believe that the upcoming Land Cruiser may be somewhat of a spiritual successor to the FJ Cruiser. Underpinning it will probably be a platform identical to the upcoming 2024 Tacoma and the next-generation 4Runner; however, the exterior could boast retro looks with round headlights and boxy dimensions.
Inside, buyers will likely get a more bare-bones cabin than the 4Runner making the Land Cruiser more suited to off-roading. Perhaps, auxiliary switches can also be added and even off-road features like front and rear lockers can make their way into this new model which will make it insanely capable.
How It Can Differ From The 4Runner
Scale the steepest terrain and make your mark on the world with the powerful Toyota Land Cruiser
The one thing Toyota should be most careful of is to keep the 4Runner selling as well as it does. Adding a Land Cruiser has the potential to deplete 4Runner sales; however, if done correctly, we believe that the two vehicles can be differentiated easily. The 4Runner will be the more family-oriented off-roader while the Land Cruiser can become the full-on Wrangler and Bronco competitor. A vehicle meant for tough off-road use and expeditions.
By utilizing the retro design and off-road features like lockers and larger tires, the Land Cruiser could play within the same segment as the Wrangler and Bronco which are currently more capable off-roaders than the 4Runner. So, the Toyota line-up will have the capable but more family-oriented 4Runner and the full-on old-school off-roader that looks similar to the 70 Series (but sits on a more modern platform) that can take on big expeditions or the toughest trails in the country.