The end of Toyota's old-school SUV is even being discussed?
The Toyota Land Cruiser has been sold to American's since 1957, but its reputation is global and iconic. That reputation is as a rugged and reliable off-roader that's also comfortable. On top of that, there's a certain cache in its low-key appearance compared to its re-bodied luxury Lexus counterpart. That cache isn't being played upon by Toyota with advertising though, and low sales have brought a rumor about of Toyota planning to discontinue sales of the Land Cruiser in America. And, according to Motor Trend's Jonny Lieberman in an Instagram rant, that could be as soon as 2022.
Jalopnik caught wind of Lieberman's post and reached out to Toyota to ask about Toyota's plans for the old school SUV. The reply was interesting, to say the least.
It was Toyota Product Communications Analyst Josh Burns that Jalopnik contacted, and according to the website, the reply was as follows: "Land Cruiser is a global icon that embodies Toyota's reputation for reliability, durability and capability. Although we cannot comment on future product, we can confirm that no decision has been made to stop sales of the Land Cruiser in the U.S. at this time."
It would be a defining statement if it wasn't for the "... at this time," part tacked on at the end. It could, of course, be part of the general PR person habit of not wanting to fully commit to making a statement that could change higher up the ladder at a later date. It could simply be that Burns doesn't want to risk misinformation and is specifically saying this is what he knows right now.
If there were plans for the Toyota Land Cruiser to sunset in the US, we're not sure Toyota would be shy about saying so. It's true that the Land Cruiser hasn't received an update beyond a light refresh since 2008 and, as Lieberman pointed out, Toyota seems disinterested in marketing it despite just how good the SUV is.
The Land Cruiser is certainly old, and expensive, and Toyota does sell only a few hundred per month. But it's worth remembering that the body-on-frame SUV layout with a honking great V8 under the hood is becoming a thing of the past, but there's brand cache in keeping it around for those that still want it. At this point, the R&D and tooling have been paid for and 3000 sales a year at about $90,000 each is around $270,000,000 in revenue. That's not to be sneezed at on a vehicle that has already paid for itself and doesn't need marketing money. For that reason, we suspect reports of the Land Cruiser's demise are being greatly exaggerated.