We have a bit of left over news from 2020 that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to write about in an already dark year. Toyota will discontinue the US market Land Cruiser would after 2021. It’s something that has been rumored for a while, but the company finally issued a buried confirmation on December 24, just in time for Christmas. Ugh.
The Toyota Land Cruiser has been a legendary name for more than 60 years,” Toyota said in a statement. “While it will be discontinued in the United States after the 2021 model year, we remain committed to the large SUV segment and will continue to explore future products that celebrate the Land Cruiser’s rich off-road history. We encourage loyal enthusiasts and intrepid adventurers to stay tuned for future developments.”
Thankfully, Toyota isn’t dumb enough to kill off the Land Cruiser altogether. The next-gen J300 series is expected to debut sometime in 2021 for the rest of the world. Rumored engine options are a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 (possibly twin-turbocharged), a gasoline-hybrid V6, and a 3.3-liter diesel V6.
That comports with industry trends of engine downsizing, but it also means that the outgoing J200 will likely be the last Cruiser ever offered with a V8. This has already prompted a massive run on J200s before they leave the market in some countries.
The Land Cruiser has been for sale continuously in the US since the company made landfall here in 1957. It’s honestly mystifying how Toyota has not been able to capitalize on the legendary nameplate, one with a bulletproof go-anywhere reputation other automakers would kill for.
However, all hope is not dead. The Lexus LX is still considered a strong seller for a decade-old luxury SUV nearing a six-figure price tag. Demand for body-on-frame SUVs is so strong, in fact, that Lexus wants more of them. For 2020, the LX outsold the Land Cruiser it’s based on, 4,512 to 3,147 units. That doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it’s 1.6 percent of Lexus’s 275,041 unit total and only 0.17 percent of Toyota’s 1,837,900 total.
It’s too soon to say whether the J300 Land Cruiser might show up as a Lexus-only offering in the US. There’s some speculation that the LX (or a replacement) might even go unibody and ultra-luxury like a Bentley Bentayga.
But, all hope is not dead. A large dealer franchise has told Car and Driver that while the Land Cruiser is dead for 2022, “it’ll be back soon, and way more modern and luxurious.” One one hand, this could point to a longer absence. If Toyota planed to offer the J300 here in 2023-24, keeping the J200 around for a couple more years wouldn’t hurt anybody. On the other hand, Toyota has given niche models a one-year hiatus before, as it did in 1990 with the MR2.
In any case, the Land Cruiser will now always have an asterisk. It’s Toyota’s oldest continuous nameplate, even older than the probably soon-to-be-departed Crown. But while it can continue to make that claim elsewhere in the world, come 2022 it can no longer say it’s the oldest continuous nameplate in the US. That honor now goes to the Corolla.