- Toyota’s lineup was predictable and hierarchical as soon as: Sequoia for the household, 4Runner within the center, and Land Cruiser on the prime, the place it did not garner numerous gross sales.
- Over at Lexus, there have been large grilles and luxurious variations of the Toyota SUVs, however these had been by no means meant for off-roading.
- The answer to getting the Land Cruiser out of its area of interest position, it appears, was to reinvent it, and Toyota has completed simply that.
Previously, Toyota’s U.S. off-road SUV product lineup had a definite hierarchy. The Land Cruiser sat on the prime, with the 4Runner just under and the Sequoia over within the household room. The parallel Lexus universe had extra luxurious and costly variations of the Land Cruiser and 4Runner, however they’d much less clearance on account of low-hanging fascia designs and more and more humongous grilles. Regardless of having the identical stellar operating gear (and much more energy within the case of the GX) the Lexus variants have at all times been extra inclined to physique harm and are too superficially delicate to beat up off-road.
Factor is, the Land Cruiser on the prime was too costly for off-roaders to afford. Most lived their lives as pavement-bound mall wagons that by no means touched earth till they misplaced their shine, racked up 100,000 miles, and dropped in worth earlier than they had been purchased by fans. Over time, its status was extra theoretical than anything, based mostly in historical past and the exploits of fashions that had been solely obtainable abroad. Beginning with the 100-series, the one Land Cruiser we ever received was the costly three-row behemoth with impartial entrance suspension, a thirsty V-8 engine, and an automated. Because of this, U.S. Land Cruiser gross sales have been dismal, with annual gross sales averaging simply 3200 models over the previous decade.
In the meantime, the smaller and extra reasonably priced 4Runner has been promoting briskly, with gross sales averaging some 130,000 models per yr since 2016. The present fifth-generation mannequin remains to be having an awesome run despite the fact that it debuted in 2009 as a 2010 mannequin.
What occurred? Overland-style off-road tenting began to get in style proper on the time many body-on-frame SUVs morphed into crossovers. Toyota even made the choice to kill off the FJ Cruiser on this interval. Individuals began searching for out the few remaining off-road frame-based SUVs and modding them for backcountry tenting. With few used Land Cruisers to purchase, new 4Runners had been an awesome selection.
TGNA-F Stirs the Pot
The arrival of the extremely malleable TGNA-F truck platform and new downsized turbo engines with hybrid variants introduced a possibility for a model reset. The Tundra modified from leaf spring rear suspension to TGNA’s coils, whereas the Sequoia went the opposite method from impartial rear suspension to TGNA’s stable axle. Whether or not you agree with it or not, the latter turned a extra off-road-capable three-row massive SUV right away, making it troublesome to make a case for a similar form of Land Cruiser within the U.S. TGNA would additionally underpin the brand new international 300-series Land Cruiser, however Toyota determined to make use of the chance to recast our Land Cruiser as a extra reasonably priced two-row off roader. Lexus, then again, stated sure to the 300-series and launched it as the 2022 LX600.
For years, different markets have had entry to the Land Cruiser Prado, a smaller and cheaper Land Cruiser variant with impartial entrance suspension and smaller engines. Markets that also offered the large Cruiser with stable axle entrance suspension might simply make a advertising distinction, however that differentiation hasn’t existed right here for a while. The thought of shifting the 2024 Land Cruiser within the Prado course is not almost the shock to the system it might be in different components of the world. Utilizing this strategy to take away value and make the Land Cruiser extra reasonably priced is sensible right here, as a result of our “large” Land Cruiser was a dud, sales-wise.
How It Performed Out
With the Sequoia taking up three-row duties, remodeling the Land Cruiser right into a smaller, five-passenger Prado-style off-roader is a helpful transfer—particularly if going off-road and cruising precise land is your factor. Parking, too. The TGNA platform makes that simple to execute, and it ends in a 250-series Prado-based SUV that is not that completely different from the 300-series LX600 from the standpoint of the body, suspension, and four-wheel drive system. In actual fact, each share a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and have comparable observe widths. However the 250-series Prado is on a distinct growth cycle, so Toyota needed to “kill off” the Land Cruiser to make the swap.
When the mud settles, the Land Cruiser and the brand new GX550 (the GX has at all times been Prado-based) will occupy the identical strata, however with the same old Lexus variations. The GX might be notably longer, taller, extra luxurious, and have much less favorable strategy and underbody clearance dimensions. It’s going to be powered by a barely extra highly effective (and thirstier) 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6. It is certain to be significantly costlier too. Alongside these traces, the brand new GX550 might be fitted with the brand new and improved e-KDSS stabilizer bar disconnect system, whereas the Land Cruiser shies away from that in favor of a inexpensive entrance stabilizer bar disconnect. Toyota appears to be severe about returning the Land Cruiser to extra minimalist roots to maintain it reasonably priced.
One Final Domino
All of this begs a query: What concerning the 4Runner? It has not but made the swap to the TNGA-F structure and the brand new engines that come together with it. The downsized Land Cruiser would nonetheless should be the bigger and extra fascinating providing, however the area between them has shrunk. Will its wheelbase stay shorter and its width narrower than the Land Cruiser? Toyota is mum about any new 4Runner specifics, besides to say it isn’t going anyplace.
We predict the brand new 4Runner will slot in at a cheaper price level through the use of the Tacoma’s part-time four-wheel-drive system and midlevel engine providing. The rear differential lock and MTS and Crawl Management techniques will solely seem on the TRD Off-Highway and Professional fashions, as they do now. The high-performance TRD Pro will most likely proceed, as that may distinguish the 4Runner from the extra overlanding-focused Land Cruiser.
Was all of this a good suggestion? It’s in case you like the thought of getting a Land Cruiser in your storage. The gross sales tempo of the outdated one was not sustainable, and its hulking measurement and costly worth had been by no means suitable with the obvious mission assertion that is proper there within the Land Cruiser’s very title. To save lots of the Land Cruiser, Toyota had no selection however to kill it first.
Dan Edmunds was born into the world of cars, however not the way you would possibly suppose. His father was a retired racing driver who opened Autoresearch, a race-car-building store, the place Dan lower his enamel as a steel fabricator. Engineering faculty adopted, then SCCA Showroom Inventory racing, and that mixture landed him suspension growth jobs at two completely different automakers. His writing profession started when he was picked up by Edmunds.com (no relation) to construct a testing division.