Americans can't buy a Land Cruiser 300, so what is it doing here?
It's been just over two years since Toyota confirmed that the new-generation Land Cruiser 300 Series would not be sold in the United States, but hopes that this situation could change have been raised after the rugged SUV was spotted on a car hauler in Mishawaka, Indiana.
As per The Drive, the photos were shared on Facebook by Jorge Alvarez, who works at a Lexus dealership. He initially thought this was a Sequoia before moving closer and realizing that it was a new Land Cruiser in GR Sport guise - this particular model is more than just a sporty badge and some styling changes.
In December last year, Toyota North America's executive vice president of sales, Jack Hollis, said that there was a good chance of the SUV returning to the USA, and the fact that one has now been seen in the metal in this country adds weight to that idea.
Alvarez, obviously aware of the popularity of the Land Cruiser, was quick to try to find out more about what the SUV was doing there. "Immediately I pulled over and [asked the driver], 'What's with the Land Cruiser?' And he just mentioned it was a test vehicle," said Alvarez when speaking to The Drive. "We are not far from Chicago so it could definitely be a car headed to the auto show. The BMW on top also had manufacturer's plates out of Michigan."
It seems strange for Toyota to show off a vehicle it doesn't sell in this country at the Chicago Auto Show, with the public portion of this event starting on February 11. So, assuming that this example of the Land Cruiser is headed there, it could indicate that Toyota will be announcing an official comeback.
"Land Cruiser is such an important part of our heritage and has done such a great job," said Toyota's Hollis late last year. "I would say likely yes," he replied when asked at the time about a potential comeback in this country. And, around a year ago, a Toyota spokesperson told CarBuzz, "Don't be so quick to rule out the Land Cruiser. We are listening strongly to customer feedback."
Part of Toyota's justification for not immediately bringing the new Land Cruiser here is the latest Lexus LX, itself based on the Land Cruiser and so very much as capable. Toyota's own Sequoia shares undeprinnings and endinges, but was packaged as a larger SUV for the American market. For many, though, there is no replacement for the Land Cruiser. It may not have a V8 anymore, but a new turbocharged V6 is a cleaner mill and has enough power to motivate the big bruiser. A more modern interior and the brand's latest tech add up to a complete package.
Hopefully, all of this means that we're moving closer to the 300 Series finally making its way stateside.
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