Trucks & SUVs

The Toyota Land Cruiser Is Dead

We don’t get it. The SUV is the hot segment right now. It has been for years. Yet, Toyota has just announced that the Land Cruiser is dead. Toyota has decided to kill it in the US. When you think about it you have to wonder why? But the answer is easy; the Land Cruiser is a really poor seller here.

Yeah, it is hard to imagine with Toyota dominating certain segments like midsize pickups and hybrid cars. But while it has a handle on the Tacoma the Land Cruiser just doesn’t sell. Maybe it’s the fact that it doesn’t market the Land Cruiser. Or maybe it is because it competes with itself.

Despite the higher cost, the LX outsells the Land Cruiser

Credit: Toyota

The Lexus LX is essentially a slightly tarted-up Land Cruiser. And despite the higher cost, the LX outsells the Land Cruiser. Not that the $86,000 tab for the Land Cruiser is cheap. In fact, the price might also be part of the reason it doesn’t sell.

With only about 3,000 sold each year, it is not enough for Toyota to bother. Posting on IH8Mud Forums Eric Sarjeant, GM of Ed Martin Toyota in Indianapolis, says it will happen soon. The Land Cruiser is the longest-running nameplate that Toyota has in the US. It has been around since 1957 and has always had a strong following. What happened?

RELATED: OK, Wait. What’s the Deal With the New Land Cruiser?

Well, again, Toyota never did an ounce of marketing the Land Cruiser. For decades. So 70 years of name recognition and brand equity gets tossed away. Some have also hinted that Toyota moving from Los Angeles to Dallas has changed the culture, and not for the better. And as a comparison, the Land Cruiser sells more than 42,000 a year in Australia. 

Land Cruiser once shared the same place as the Jeep or the Bronco

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition with FJ40 off-roading in desert
2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition with FJ40 | Toyota

There was a time when the Land Cruiser was revered, taking the same place at Toyota as the Jeep or the Bronco at Ford. It was the first Toyota with a cult following along with its reputation for off-road reliability. With what is happening with the revived Bronco and continuing with the Jeep, maybe Toyota just needs to make a more basic Land Cruiser? 

Today, the Land Cruiser is a bloated, expensive Escalade-like SUV. Toyota tried to go down the Land Rover’s path rather than the Jeep’s path? But knowing there was life in the original Land Cruiser model it introduced the FJ Cruiser in 2007. So why not do what Ford has done? An FJ Cruiser-like all-wheel-drive version like the Bronco Sport. Then, a more reasonably sized version like the Bronco?

Two Land Cruisers in the $28,000 to $58,000 range attracts a wider range of buyers

Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser
Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser | Fj40365 via YouTube

Rather than selling in the $80,000 range, two models in the $28,000 to $58,000 range would bring down the price to a wider range of buyers. The closer you get to the magic $100,000 threshold, the fewer buyers there are waving their wallets. Ford and Jeep have obviously hit the sweet spot that Toyota could take a chunk out of. 

Toyota, it just seems like low hanging fruit. You can’t buy brand recognition as the Land Cruiser has. It just seems negligent to chuck it all for potentially a couple-thousand more Lexus LX SUVs.