Even though true off-road vehicles are seeing a massive surge in popularity right now, Toyota has opted to axe the Land Cruiser, its oldest continuous nameplate, in the US after this year. It almost defies logic, and while it can be argued that the current LC is too luxurious and expensive, four-wheeling and overlanding — and now COVID-inspired getaways — are among the hottest automotive trends right now. American automakers Ford, Jeep, and Chevy have all revived once-canceled models like the Bronco, Gladiator, and Blazer. The Big T has an opportunity here.
What should Toyota do with the Land Cruiser?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What makes a good car company heritage collection?”
In an ideal world, we would be able to combine all the ideas you submitted for the ultimate car company collection and force the carmakers to follow them as commandments. Lupus started with what we can probably all agree on — one of each model, one of each race car, and influential concepts. エーイダン added the excellent idea of having an additional copy of groundbreaking models with the second example shown in disassembled form as a teaching tool. MikeRL411 said the company should install cameras facing the parking lot, to study what cars their devoted visitors drive. And Hachi_Rogue stipulated that flops should not be excluded, so that they can learn from their mistakes.
We loved all of these answers but the winner was RX626, who expressed the need for mundane cars in the best way possible:
I believe that an ordinary car like the Corolla, and an ordinary trim level of such a car, is what is needed for the best collection.
These cars don’t have the glory or popularity of a GT-R or Supra. Many gearheads won’t even be interested in these cars.
That’s why I think it’s important for manufacturers to display and preserve these cars for the future.
The GT-R, the AE86, the Supra… these cars have a lot of enthusiasts. I’m sure they will still be cherished somewhere on this earth 100 years from now.
However, cars like the Corolla, Sunny, and Estima may already be extinct. This is because these cars were commonplace and did not have speed, beauty, and glory.
In order to avoid this future, I think the companies that created these cars should protect these cars that might otherwise become extinct.
Two year retro redo or new V8 sedan called the “Lando”.
“It almost defies logic, and while it can be argued that the current LC is too luxurious and expensive, four-wheeling and overlanding — and now COVID-inspired getaways — are among the hottest automotive trends right now.”
I was thinking the same thing just yesterday while reading an article in Automotive News about Nissan dealers hankering for a revival of the Nissan Xterra. What we’ve seen with the Land Cruiser is the same thing that’s happened to Isuzu (we bought a new Trooper back in ’94) and Mitsubishi Montero. Why are their SUVs disappearing as that market segment keeps growing?
The only conclusion one can draw is that they did indeed become too luxurious and overpriced. They lost sight of their customer base. That’s reflected by the dwindling numbers sold towards the end of their life. It’s the same phenomenon that killed off all of the Japanese sports cars after the ’90s. They became too complicated and expensive.
Toyota needs to go back to its roots with the Land Cruiser, making it more utilitarian and affordable so that it appeals to true off-road fans. Create a successor model that generates excitement among true off-road enthusiasts, some of whom can become social media influencers, and create a reason for the masses to want to mimic that lifestyle by buying a revitalized Land Cruiser, even if most never leave the pavement.
Look at what Jeep has done with the Wrangler and its offsprings. While they’ve added some comfort and convenience features, the Wrangler has never strayed too far from its utilitarian origins. Remarkably, Jeep sales in Japan grew 1.2% last year, setting record sales for the seventh straight year. They have plans to expand the dealer network there.
They should do a retro, soft, electric, frontdriven, iPad controlled, girly SUV and name it Land Cruiser – not!
1: Take over the slot occupied by the Sequoia. The Sequoia and the Land Cruiser almost occupy the same area (yes, I know theirs like a $40K price gap, but still….), so having both of them doesn’t make sense. The options would be to do a badge swap (which would piss off the purists of the Land Cruiser) or to discontinue the Sequoia and retool the line to make a USDM version of the Land Cruiser.
2: Revamp marketing of the Land Cruiser in the US on par with the Toyota Century or offer in-house Armouring services like what some of the German Car makers does with some of their models. Make the price worth the model itself. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an untapped market in up-armouring SUV’s in the US, but offer a basic turn-key model, instead of going to a third party like this: https://youtu.be/w6zQRdWlTDk
I know it’s the forbidden thing to mention, but yes, it will need to be an EV successor. Make it cheap enough to hit the $40-50k USD range (where the Broncos and Wranglers are), so it undercuts the Land Rover, and sell a raw, austere version for commercial applications to ensure that it gets used enough in real-world situations that it retains the street cred the model has built up. Include a small engine for a range-extender version if you must. Keep it boxy and vaguely (but only vaguely) retro and then do the lame thing and get it into the hands of the “influencers” and youtube personalities who will make sure it gets seen by the requisite number of eyeballs.
And to really show what it can do, enter a couple of stock ones in the next Dakar.
It would be a huge mistake for Toyoda to not continue the Land Cruiser. Toyota’s fingers have not been on the pulse of the off road market in America and that is sad. Yes they make the 4-Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra which all have too much luxury. As others have said there is a market for a Land Cruiser but not the one Toyota has been presenting to the public. Lexus has the upper end for the Mall Cruiser/Soccer mom group. Sequoia has the more affordable large family rig that should be made larger/longer to compete with the Suburban and Excursion.
Then there is the amazing and historic Land Cruiser that Toyota has built and marketed incorrectly in America. The Land Cruiser should have never left it’s roots and now needs to return to them. The Land Cruiser was and should be a utilitarian vehicle with the very basics only available.
Interiors need to be simple and made to be hosed out with water after a long off road trip, no cruise control, no GPS (cell phones have that if you need it) no electronics controlling the drive terrain. Simplicity is best off road, like front and rear ARB style air lockers.
Air compressors and lines are needed in off road situations to air up tires as needed. Electric vehicles are for areas where electricity is available for a recharge and that is NOT in the off road environment. Range will always want to be and or need to be extended so you need to be able to carry extra fuel, (not a generator and fuel for the generator to try to extend an EV range)
The motor needs to be gas or diesel with good fuel economy and torque not some 700 hp monster (that was hard for me to say). The pricing needs to be affordable for the average American income. It should be offered as a choice to chose a quality utilitarian Land Cruiser as I describe for those that know the quality and rugged difference. Then it would also be a vehicle for those aspiring to become more at one with the outdoors to own as they figure out how to drive off road and get away from all of the intrusive electronics that would be available on the Lexus for “the want too be’s” Mall Cruiser/soccer mom crowd. This would also be a lifestyle trend for Toyota to market to the city/suburbanites that will ultimately purchase the majority of the vehicles.
I mean, people are buying Jeeps and they are statistically the least reliable vehicles over the last 50 years on the road (see consumer reports). There is definitely a piece of the pie available for a reliable, rugged from the factory, Toyota Land Cruiser.
A genuine alternative to the Jeep Wrangler should be what they do. But they won’t.
They will do what they have always done best in North America. Build boring, bland, yet reliable vehicles that appeal to average people for average use.
Toyota has become the Japanese Buick.
The true Land Cruiser died years ago.
There is only one solution for the current Land Cruiser, shoot it and put it out of it’s bloated misery.
Long live the Land Cruiser.
Spin it off as its own brand to compete with Jeep, have the luxo-barge Land Cruiser be the halo car, have the South African-spec Land Cruiser 79 Namib be the Jeep Renegade competitor, and have a stripped-down Prado be the entry-level model. For extra points, maybe sell the Hiace as a delivery vehicle under the Land Cruiser name?
I’m cribbing from Chet a little but the HiAce is halfway there already.
Hear me out- a slight lift, squaring off the wheel arches, 4wd, and swapping the front clip for one with round headlights and a square grill. Simple, useful, and lots of room for customization. It’d be like a Honda Element, a Nissan Xterra, and a conversion van had a baby. Cult car in the making.
I’ll show myself out.
It needs an inline 6 engine, of course. Maybe even push rod, 2 valve per cylinder.
Land Cruiser is well established, been around forever and in multiple countries.
Start a heritage program.
Heritage program is a good idea. But the vehicle needs to continue into the future. Someone or a department at Toyota has been guiding the Land Cruiser in a wrong direction for years in the American market. Getting the direction of the Land Cruiser correct is important, and eliminating the fluff vehicles , like way to many Tacoma and Tundra price points. Make an upper line and a lower line. The after market will fill in to customize the lower line as desired. The same would be done with a utilitarian Land Cruiser. Toyota builds boring car and that is a fact. But simplify some models are simple steps away from not being boring.
Well said Jim.
Toyota suffers from what I call GM disease. They are so big that through sheer corporate inertia they cannot do proper niche vehicles anymore Hence they have to have them designed and powered by other car makers. They are so afraid, at the financial management level, to take any kind of chance, that they do nothing, and their entire lineup in the is testament to to this corporate malaise. I just don’t understand how they can have such an enthusiast at the top of their food chain, but none of his automotive enthusiasm trickles down to the rest of the company.
Maybe they should go back to textile machines…
Definetly a heritage program. Continue making parts to keep old cruisers on the road. Also, maybe sell the Land Cruiser name to another brand such as Nissan who could keep producing similar cars under the Land Cruiser nameplate.
Keep it. Don’t be wimps. They should get rid of the Lexus LX and replace it with the Landcruiser. Badge it as a Lexus and give it some fancy gizmos and gadgets, just keep it. It’s iconic. It’s a hero. It literally built countries.
I saw a salty Land Cruiser on Thursday when I went skiing. I was wicked to see. I’d include a picture, but I don’t know how.