NEWS: Toyota may kill off the Land Cruiser in the US market

We desperately hope this is wrong, but rumor has it that Toyota plans to kill off the Land Cruiser in the US market. If true that would mean the longest running model in the company’s history, offered continuously since day one of Toyota USA’s establishment in October of 1957, will no longer be their flagship vehicle here after the 2022 model year. Needless to say, we think that would be a terrible mistake.

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Bad News. I just heard that the venerable, completely amazing, stealth wealth king Toyota Land Cruiser will be exiting the U.S. market after 2022. Insane, I know. Why? Well, at $86,000 it’s expensive and hard to sell. Especially because Toyota has spent ZERO DOLLARS marketing their best product for several decades straight. 3,000 or so people a year buying a hand built, over-engineered, off road luxury masterpiece apparently ain’t enough. And that’s not even the real reason. The Lexus LX570 is essentially the same vehicle and costs more (i.e. it is more profitable). Why not sell 7,000 LX570s a year instead of 4,000?? The thinking being that all 3,000 Land Cruiser customers will want a big Lex. Which… maybe? Dirty secret—Lexus hasn’t made a profit in about 2 years. Too many NXs being sold with cash on the good, not nearly enough big ticket products like GS, LS, LC, and LX getting bought. So yes, there will be a next-gen, 2023 LX570 sold in America, just not it’s Toyota sibling. STUPID. Toyota has been selling trucks badged as Land Cruisers to Americans since 1957! And they’re just tossing 70 years of heritage out the window. The hell!?! I’ve had a few people tell me that the move from Los Angeles to Dallas broke Toyota USA’s culture. This dumb decision—killing Land Cruiser!—is proof. Maybe if there’s enough outcry, Toyota will change its mind? #boo #hiss #changeyourminds #provemewrong #toyota #landcruiser @toyotausa

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This is not to say that there won’t be a 2023 Land Cruiser at all. There will, it just won’t be sold in America if the rumors prove true. The source of this sad information is Motor Trend‘s Jonny Lieberman, who posted his thoughts about it on Instagram. The full text of his post is here:

Bad News. I just heard that the venerable, completely amazing, stealth wealth king Toyota Land Cruiser will be exiting the U.S. market after 2022. Insane, I know. Why? Well, at $86,000 it’s expensive and hard to sell. Especially because Toyota has spent ZERO DOLLARS marketing their best product for several decades straight. 3,000 or so people a year buying a hand built, over-engineered, off road luxury masterpiece apparently ain’t enough. And that’s not even the real reason. The Lexus LX570 is essentially the same vehicle and costs more (i.e. it is more profitable). Why not sell 7,000 LX570s a year instead of 4,000?? The thinking being that all 3,000 Land Cruiser customers will want a big Lex. Which… maybe? Dirty secret—Lexus hasn’t made a profit in about 2 years. Too many NXs being sold with cash on the good, not nearly enough big ticket products like GS, LS, LC, and LX getting bought. So yes, there will be a next-gen, 2023 LX570 sold in America, just not it’s Toyota sibling. STUPID. Toyota has been selling trucks badged as Land Cruisers to Americans since 1957! And they’re just tossing 70 years of heritage out the window. The hell!?! I’ve had a few people tell me that the move from Los Angeles to Dallas broke Toyota USA’s culture. This dumb decision—killing Land Cruiser!—is proof. Maybe if there’s enough outcry, Toyota will change its mind? #boo #hiss #changeyourminds #provemewrong #toyota #landcruiser @toyotausa

Jalopnik reached out to Toyota and got a typical PR-speak response, concluding “Although we cannot comment on future product, we can confirm that no decision has been made to stop sales of the Land Cruiser in the US at this time.”

It’s true that Land Cruiser sales are not great, a mere drop in the ocean for the vast Toyota empire. The Big T sold 3,100 Land Cruisers in the US in 2017, 3,222 in 2018, and 1,628 for the first half of 2019. That’s fewer than the number RAV4s Toyota sold every three days last year. Going purely by the numbers, you end up with a typical Forbes business-oriented hot take, saying that it was about time for the Land Cruiser to get the axe.

However, for people who love cars (you know, the kind of people whose friends and family go to for car advice), it’s not just a case of numbers. The Land Cruiser means something. The Toyota name as always meant, above all else, unwavering dependability. Bulletproof reliability. A vehicle that will never, ever leave you stranded.

What other man-made object has proven itself so utterly capable of traversing the most distant continents, the cruelest climates, the most hostile environments on Earth? Range Rovers and Jeeps dream of having a fraction of the Land Cruiser’s reliability. And for a car that purports to be able to trek to the farthest reaches of the known world, that would seem to be a glaring dereliction of duty.

It could be said, at various times in history, that Toyota’s flagship was a sports car. The 2000GT, Supra, and AE86 are just a few of the nameplates that still cause enthusiasts’ hearts to race, so to speak. But Toyota has largely ceded its sports car crown, choosing to partner with other automakers to build what should be its halo cars. What else is left? The go-anywhere, never-quit, go-250,000-miles-without-breaking-a-sweat Land Cruiser, that’s what.

At $85,000 Land Cruisers aren’t cheap, but let’s not forget that “stealth wealth king” is absolutely correct. Since the late 90s, a fully-loaded Land Cruiser could be, among a certain old money set, every bit as desirable as a Ferrari. In many parts of the world, it still is. In Iceland, as Car and Driver‘s John Phillips once wrote, kids dream of Land Cruisers the way American kids dream of Corvettes. The same is true in much of southeast Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and other far corners of the globe.

Aside from the 2000GT and before the recent record sales of the A80 Supra, the Land Cruiser was the most valuable and collectible car in Toyota’s long history. The Land Cruiser is even sort of a pop culture icon, routinely used in ads and in film. It is also the only Toyota — and one of a handful of Japanese cars — to have a thriving restomod market, with several companies across the country restoring and customizing them for wealthy customers. It has been brought back due to popular demand. It has even been an official vehicle of the US Marine Corps.

The most enraging thing is, Toyota USA could easily continue selling the Land Cruiser if it wanted to. By all accounts, it is developing a next-generation model, scheduled to debut in 2023. It, according to Lieberman, simply chooses to slit the throat of a 68-year-old nameplate in order to goose Lexus’s sales numbers.

If Toyota doesn’t simply want to be seen as a peddler of disposable appliances, if it truly wants to live up to Akio Toyoda’s words, it must keep the Land Cruiser. Sure, 4Runners are great, but they don’t have the heritage and reputation for absolute dominance over all creation that the Cruiser has. Supras and 86es are no longer pure Toyotas. Camrys and RAV4s sell like hotcakes, but they are not Sir Edmund Hillary reincarnated in automotive form. Without the Land Cruiser, the Toyota brand will cease to have meaning.

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11 Responses to NEWS: Toyota may kill off the Land Cruiser in the US market

  1. Lukas said:

    Japanese car makers are just not able to recognise that names mean something for car enthusiasts and buyers. Somehow, marketing in Japan must be completely different that anything marketing-people all around the rest of the world know and do.

    Ruining such important names like the “Lancer”, the “Pajero” or the “Land Cruiser” – no matter if “only” in some parts of the world or everywhere – is just stupid. That´s like Mercedes-Benz does not have a car called “G-Class” anymore or Porsche stops making 911s.

  2. Nigel said:

    Toyota, please keep selling the Land Cruiser in North America !!

  3. cesariojpn said:

    Why not just bring the J70 chasis to the USA? The truck bed variant alone would Garner some notable sales…..

  4. LB1 said:

    To me, what stuck was “the move from Los Angeles to Dallas broke Toyota USA’s culture.”

  5. Speedie said:

    While I dislike the demise of any great model, this is a situation truly of Toyota’s making. If you want the luxury and utility of the Land Cruiser, but with more social cachet, then you get the Lexis LX 570. If you want to save a little money, and get more cargo space, you get the Sequoia. Toyota literally put it in a no win sales position.

  6. Mark Newton-John said:

    So what’s wrong with Sequoias? Less expensive, and the USA is not some third world backwater. Hate to say it, but at current prices, it’s no wonder people go for Navigators and Expeditions.
    Want to save the Land Cruiser? Then go back to your roots and make it at Wrangler competitor, Although THOSE things aren’t cheap either…
    There’s always the Lexus LX, which are luxo Land Cruisers. Or at least the Lexus GX, which are Land Cruiser Prados.

  7. Melvin said:

    Maybe Trump could buy Japan?

  8. I’ve owned over a 100 vehicles, every suv, from ford Raptors, glandenwagons, range rovers,jeeps, , after 3 years THEY ALL SHOW THEIR AGE, TOTAL GARBAGE.THE LANDCRUISER NEVER SHOWS ITS AGE..IVE HAD 3 AND THEY ARE THE BEST VEHICLE MONEY CAN BUY

  9. Toepfer said:

    I like how the use of a completely different vehicle is meant to help enrage others.
    Saying a J70 can go anywhere in the world, and be the most reliable, is so off base from the current Land Cruiser. Don’t get me wrong, its still a good vehicle. But if you even tried to put it through the abuse that a typical Land Cruiser gets in Africa, I doubt it would last a year. If not less. Not to mention no one would drive it to begin with because the fuel costs would be astronomical. I’ve never been in love with the new one. And the next model would only be bigger and more out of control. It simply won’t go places that an old 40 will or even newer Jeeps.

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