Toyota Dragging Heels or Being Coy Over Land Cruiser U.S. Return

C’mon Toyota, tell us what’s really going on. What are your plans to return the Land Cruiser to the U.S.? Reports are flying over a Toyota executive’s half-hearted comments about the return of its iconic Land Cruiser after it stopped selling them here. The new J300 version will make it to the U.S. as the Lexus LX SUV. 

Toyota executive vice president of sales in North America, Jack Hollis, told MotorTrend it may happen in a few years. When asked if the Land Cruiser would be coming to the U.S. he said, “Will we ever? I would say likely yes.” But then there was backpedaling.

“Obviously, Land Cruiser is such an important part of our heritage and has done such a great job,” Hollis said. “And I’ll be looking at it, absolutely. Have I seen designs, thoughts, and hopes? Yes. But nothing to announce. It’s still a ways off.” 

What’s the real story of the Land Cruiser in the U.S.?

A Toyota Land Cruiser SUV driving up a hill, the Land Cruiser is the most reliable SUV according to iSeeCars' data
Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

Typically, car companies never tip their hand over future endeavors, so we expect this cat-and-mouse sort of response or non-response. But in some ways, this is more meat than is normally offered. Still, it also seems unnecessarily oblique.

It raises the question, How could Toyota’s large SUV not be coming back to the U.S. sooner than ‘a ways off’ would indicate? It already exists for one thing. Both the Land Cruiser 300 Series and Lexus LX share the same GA-F platform. A platform, by the way, that is body-on-frame and not unibody.  

Manufactured in Aichi, Japan, both have seen incredibly strong responses. As a result, it has stopped taking orders for it. According to Automotive News, some buyers are on waiting lists for up to four years out. 

Is the Land Cruiser that much in demand?

2023 Lexus LX600
2023 Lexus LX600 SUV | Toyota

So rather than being some sort of thing that Toyota is contemplating, the fact is that even without being available in the U.S., it is falling far behind demand expectations. Without a Plan B for production shortfalls, Toyota really doesn’t need or even want more production demands. 

Traditionally, Toyota has been very casual about its larger SUV lines. The NX, which is sold in the U.S. as the defacto Land Cruiser, is all new for 2023. It is based on the same GA-F platform as the Land Cruiser and Tundra pickup. 

But the previous version debuted in 2008. That’s 15 years for the math impaired. In the meantime, it has refreshed or redesigned its smaller crossovers numerous times in that same period. So this new NX must fulfill a big responsibility to Toyota SUV fans. 

Isn’t the NX just as good?

Front view of a 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

While it has what one expects from a 2023 SUV, the NX is no Land Cruiser. What we’d like to see is Toyota offer an NX with fewer frills and more utilitarian packages. Then call it a Land Cruiser, and cut the price, in keeping with its more basic approach. 

As it stands now, Toyota has some housekeeping to address. It can’t make enough Land Cruisers, and it is back and forth with its future EV plans. Any new SUV has to have an EV version. And overwhelming demand means you make more.

And Toyota also needs to produce compelling vehicles. So if it continues to obfuscate, rather than just producing what is being asked for, the number one selling brand in the world could see its sales diminishing.