Discontinued in the U.S. in 2021, Toyota’s iconic SUV, the Land Cruiser, isn’t disappearing entirely. The new LC300 model will be available overseas and finally fixes several problems U.S. Land Cruiser owners have noted for years. While news of an improved but unavailable Toyota Land Cruiser model is doubtlessly disappointing to U.S. enthusiasts, many of those improvements may find their way into the new Lexus LX. Here’s what we know about the LC300 and what U.S. Land Cruiser fans may have to look forward to.
The Land Cruiser 200-series
If you’ve owned or ridden in a Land Cruiser, you’ll likely have noticed a few issues. The 2021 model is sharp and has some solid off-road chops, but the powertrain lags compared to others in this segment. It comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. Its AWD makes for comfortable riding and quick acceleration. However, it is far from fuel-efficient, getting just 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. By contrast, the Mercedes-Benz GLS-class and Lincoln Navigator, two rivals in this segment, get 19/23 mpg and 16/22 mpg, respectively.
Inside the cabin is a bit of a disappointment, especially considering the nearly six-figure price tag for lower-level trims. The design and materials feel dated, especially compared to its competitors. The cargo space is also minimal. You only get 16 cubic feet in the hold (41 cubic feet with the third row down). By contrast, you get 17.4 cubic feet in the Mercedes-Benz GLS and 20 cubic feet in the hold of the Lincoln Navigator.
However, the Land Cruiser has done plenty of things right. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, along with a nine-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, and a 14-speaker sound system. Other amenities that come with the base model include four-zone climate control, leather-trimmed upholstery, wireless charging, and ventilated and heated front seats. Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring, with additional options available with the Heritage trim.
Despite these features, Toyota has struggled to sell more than 3,000 units of each model from 2007 to 2020, Forbes reports. The price, coupled with a single trim (rather than option packages or multiple trim lines), and stiff competition from legitimate off-road vehicles, have undoubtedly contributed to the Land Cruiser’s meek sale numbers.
The planned Land Cruiser LC300 series
According to Car and Driver, the LC300 purports to improve on the flaws of the 200 series for overseas buyers. The exterior styling will not be radically different, save for a more pronounced grille and more prominent lighting. However, the car is designed to be lighter – 440 pounds lighter, to be precise. That, coupled with upgrades to its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, should yield better maneuverability and overall handling.
There will also be a choice of two engines, a 3.3-liter turbodiesel V6 and a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. The former produces 304 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, while the latter option generates 409 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Each model will come with four-wheel drive and a 10-speed automatic transmission. As per Forbes, the cabin will also undergo some updates, such as a larger touch screen and digital gauge cluster, as well as a reconfigured center console.
Not much is known about trim levels or options packages yet. However, Toyota has noted that there will be a new GR trim featuring different tires, wheels, and bodywork, along with a metal skid plate. Additional details, including the pricing for any LC300 series model, have yet to be confirmed.
How can U.S. buyers experience these improvements?
It’s rumored that many of these improvements will eventually find their way into the new model of the Lexus LX luxury SUV. Not much is known about this updated vehicle either. However, it should have a snazzier exterior featured in a recently released online preview, making it more stylish than the 2021 Land Cruiser or the previous LX. There’s more chrome trim and likely an upgraded interior as well.
Most industry analysts expect the next-generation LX to share the LC300’s powertrain options. However, as the LX will also be sold overseas, perhaps Toyota will opt for another engine option to differentiate it from the LC300 models. A V8, perhaps?
The company also recently filed a U.S. trademark for the LX600, which is likely the new model’s name. However, more details have yet to be confirmed. Car Advice recently shared rumors that the LX600 will come in three trim levels: the base LX600, a sporty LX600 F Sport, and a premium LX600 VIP.
Whatever the LC300 series or LX600 shapes up to be, early details show a vast improvement over the LC200 models. Hopefully, the upgrades will be enough to take LX sales to the next level in the U.S. and help the LC300 series capture a serious amount of market share abroad.