Forbidden Fruit: 4 Foreign Market SUVs You Can’t Buy in the U.S.

Foreign market vehicles have a certain allure, probably because you can’t buy one no matter how badly you want to. If a vehicle is not originally licensed for sale in the U.S., you’ll have to wait 25 years before importing it. Detroit builds some of the world’s best trucks and SUVs. But other markets demand very different 4WDs, and the result is some very cool SUVs. Here are four I would love to drive around the U.S…someday.

Suzuki Jimny

A lime green Suzuki Jimny parked on a rocky off-road obstacle on stage at a foreign market auto show.
2018 Suzuki Jimny | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

While the Land Rover Series I and Toyota Land Cruiser may have once been humble international workhorses, they have evolved into opulent international status symbols. In many parts of the world, the Suzuki Jimny has become the cheap, go-anywhere “jeep.” In many ways, the little two-door 4×4 is closer in form and function to Willys’ original CJ-2A than a modern Wrangler Unlimited. I especially love how this SUV‘s tiny size doesn’t keep many owners from throwing them on modern 33-inch tires, even if it requires a monstrous 6-inch lift. Suzuki did sell the Jimny in the U.S. as the “Samurai” until 2010. But then it took it out of the North American market. That means there’s no way to get your hands on the redesigned 2018-present generation.

Find out how a 1986 Suzuki Samurai snatched a Jeep Wrangler record in Chile.

Toyota Land Cruiser 300

Toyota has completely redesigned its full-frame trucks and SUV architecture. In the U.S. we can enjoy this new powertrain and suspension in the 2022 Toyota Tundra and Lexus LX600 as well as the 2023 Toyota Sequoia. But at the same time, Toyota cancelled the Land Cruiser in U.S. markets. The all-new Land Cruiser 300 was the first vehicle on the next-generation Toyota SUV chassis, and many would call it the coolest. Like the Sequoia and LX600, the Land Cruiser 600 has a solid rear axle and rear coil springs. It is powered by a turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic. The redesign did result in a larger SUV, but also improved its approach and departure angles and added off-road driver aid software to make it more capable on the trail.

See how Toyota is positioning the Lexus LX600 as a Land Cruiser replacement.

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 (J70)

Toyota's render of a tan Land Cruiser 70 sold in Australia.
2023 Toyota Land Cruiser 70 | Toyota

Toyota rolled out its 70-series Land Cruiser in 1984. The blocky styling of this Radwood-era 4×4 has turned it into a hot collectors’ item. I sometimes see these decades-old SUVs for sale in Brooklyn at $40k or more. But here’s the kicker: You can still buy a brand new Land Cruiser 70 in foreign markets such as Australia. The styling is straight out of the 80s, though the truck enjoys some modern technology, such as AWD and a locking center differential in certain trims. The J70 is available as a wagon or work truck, and it’s so popular that Toyota says the waitlist is two years long. I’m sure it would be very popular here in the U.S. too!

Jeep Commander(s)

Silver plug-in hybrid foreign market Jeep Commander SUV at an auto show in China.
2018 Jeep Grand Commander PHEV for the Chinese market | Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Quick, what comes to mind when I say “Jeep Commander?” It’s understandable if you think of the Jeep Commander “XK,” or the five to seven-passenger midsize SUV Jeep sold in the U.S. until 2010. But that familiar “square body” Jeep is one of several Commanders available worldwide. In Brazil and India, Jeep sells a Compass-based three-row Jeep badged as the Commander. Over in China, Jeep sold a Cherokee-based three-row Jeep badged as the Grand Commander. Jeep plans to discontinue the Grand Commander after its 2022 model year, which is wildly unfortunate because buyers could option it as one of Jeep’s very first plug-in hybrids. Finally, Austria’s Magna Steyer (manufacturer of the G Wagen) built a Jeep Commander XK with a 3.0-liter diesel I6–straight out of the G Wagen–for foreign markets. That would be one cool SUV to import to the U.S!

Want more quirky SUVs? See my favorite used Jeep Wrangler alternatives or watch Doug DeMuro’s argument for why Toyota should sell the Land Cruiser 300 in the U.S. in the video below:

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