Could Lexus take down the Land Rover Defender with a new SUV?
One of the world's most legendary vehicle nameplates, the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser, will soon be gone, at least in the United States. Toyota announced that the current 200-Series Land Cruiser would exit production after the 2021 model year. A replacement called the 900-Series will be sold in global markets, but it seems the US is excluded from the list. Though the next-generation Land Cruiser won't come stateside, Toyota seems to have a plan that caters to the off-road enthusiast market.
Lexus boss Andrew Gilleland hinted that a Land Cruiser-inspired SUV could come from Toyota's luxury brand. But wait, doesn't Lexus already have a Land Cruiser-based vehicle? The 2021 Lexus LX 570 is essentially the Land Cruiser with different styling and more luxury. So what does Gilleland have in mind for this new SUV?
It seems like Lexus will move in a different direction with its new flagship SUV, rumored to be called the LF. Instead of rivaling the Cadillac Escalade and Infiniti QX80 like the current LX, the new model should be more like a Maserati Levante or Porsche Cayenne. A rumor from 2020 claims that GX and LX successors are still in development, though they may differ greatly from the current models. This will free up Lexus to create a separate, more off-road-focused SUV.
Toyota is working on a new TNGA-F platform that could be perfect for such a vehicle. TNGA-F will underpin upcoming Toyota models like the next-generation Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner, and there's little reason to believe Lexus won't have access to this platform.
No matter what the Land Cruiser successor looks like, we can be certain it won't feature a gas-guzzling V8 under the hood. Lexus will finally put the 4.6-liter V8 from the GX and the 5.7-liter V8 from the LX to pasture after more than a decade on the market. In their place, Toyota and Lexus will embrace electrification, likely in the form of a twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid drivetrain.
Our rendering of the Lexus Land Cruiser sees a rugged body inspired by previous Land Cruiser generations. We've tacked on some flared wheel arches and chunky off-road tires to communicate a go-anywhere appearance. Based on what we know about the vehicle, it should be a close rival for the Land Rover Defender.