The current-gen 200-Series Land Cruiser is due for a replacement. Unfortunately, while Toyota is replacing it after 2021, the US doesn’t seem included in those plans. That means, if you want a US-market Land Cruiser, 2021 is shaping up to be the last year to get one. However, there could be a way for the upcoming 300-Series Land Cruiser to come here. Not as Toyota, though, but as a next-gen 2023 Lexus LX.
The 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser 300-Series is coming, but not necessarily for the US
Although the 300-Series Land Cruiser isn’t due until the 2022 model year, a few alleged images of the next-gen SUV have already leaked. Based on some revealed technical drawings, it appears the 300-Series will be fairly similar to the current Land Cruiser, Motor1 reports. The major differences appear to be a longer wheelbase, improved aerodynamics, a different tailgate, and an upgraded interior.
As of this writing, Toyota hasn’t released any official technical details about the 300-Series Land Cruiser. However, a Japanese forum recently obtained what it claims are the SUV’s powertrain specs, Autoblog reports. Initial rumors claimed the next-gen Land Cruiser would go hybrid and lose its V8 engine. Based on the Japanese forum’s information, it appears those rumors were half right.
If the forum info is correct, the 300-Series Land Cruiser is indeed ditching its 5.7-liter V8 with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft. But it’s not going hybrid—or at least, not initially, Gear Patrol reports. Instead, the base engine will be a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at 420 hp and 434 lb-ft. And the SUV will also offer a 3.3-liter turbodiesel V6 rated at 308 hp and 501 lb-ft.
Still, as intriguing as all this is, it almost doesn’t matter for US customers. That’s because, for the moment, Toyota doesn’t officially plan on bringing the 300-Series Land Cruiser here. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t come in another form. Specifically, one without a Toyota badge.
Lexus isn’t discontinuing the LX, so could it be a US-market Land Cruiser 300 Series?
Toyota sells two versions of the Land Cruiser in the US—sort of. The Lexus LX, though it looks noticeably different, is a Land Cruiser under the skin. It has the same V8 engine and the same 4WD drivetrain. And it’s just as reliable and capable off-road, and arguably more luxurious.
A bit like the current-gen 200-Series Land Cruiser, the current-gen Lexus LX 570 is somewhat long-in-the-tooth, MotorTrend reports. However, it also consistently out-sells the Land Cruiser, despite being marginally more expensive, Car and Driver reports. The sales figures reports from GoodCarBadCar back up that claim. In the 2005-2020 period, the Land Cruiser only out-sold the Lexus LX once.
It’s unclear exactly why the Lexus LX out-sells the Land Cruiser. But it’s probably due to Lexus’s status as a luxury brand in the US. The idea of paying about $86k for a Toyota likely seems ludicrous to some SUV shoppers. For a Lexus, though, that’s an easier pill to swallow. And, unlike the Land Cruiser, the LX is sticking around for 2022.
It’s worth pointing out that the 300-Series Land Cruiser appears to have an updated interior and infotainment system. The latter was one of Roadshow’s biggest gripes with the 2021 Lexus LX. MT also referred to both the LX’s interior design and infotainment with terms like “aging” and “looks like it’s a decade old.” Both could be solved with the new Land Cruiser’s layout. Ditto the current-gen LX’s V8 thirst–though rumors suggest the next-gen model could keep it, Autoblog reports.
It’s not impossible, but too early to tell
As of this writing, we can’t say for sure what Toyota plans to do with the 300-Series Land Cruiser in the US. Considering the expenses involved in emissions- and crash-testing, if Toyota’s already made the decision, it’s unlikely the SUV will return.
That being said, Lexus has good reason to keep the LX around. For one, it gets consistently high marks from Consumer Reports. Secondly, compared to the Toyota-badged SUV, it makes for a more convincing Range Rover rival to the general public.
Plus, now that Jeep has the Grand Wagoneer, it makes even more sense for Toyota to have some form of luxury three-row off-road SUV available. And since the Grand Wagoneer will eventually offer a hybrid powertrain, there’s a reason for a 300-Series version of the LX to offer one, too.
We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out.
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.