The Land Cruiser Is No More. How Will Toyota Replace It?

It is hard to dislike the Toyota Land Cruiser, apart from the price tag. From the classic lines and rugged capability of the 40 Series to the overwhelming luxury of the 200 Series, the Land Cruiser has provided a rare driving experience for the relatively few explorers who have hit the trail behind the wheel of one.

Toyota has announced that the 2021 model year will be the final year for the Land Cruiser name in the United States, but it seems that Toyota might rely heavily on their Lexus brand to carry the torch of the Land Cruiser into the future.

Jack Hollis, Toyota North America Vice President of Operations, went on record with Automotive News saying: “What we have seen at Toyota is that there’s so much of an appetite for (off-roading) that I see that (moving into) the Lexus brand as well. There is an appetite, a customer desire, a customer push to see all brands giving them more options. I think it would be silly for Lexus not to travel down that path.”

READ MORE: COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: PETER SULICK’S FJ60 TOYOTA LAND CRUISER

For those of us that have explored in Lexus vehicles, this is not a surprise nod to the luxury brand that outfits more soccer-moms than adventure seekers. Most reading this understand that a GX is simply a Toyota 4Runner with a bigger engine, a nicer ride quality, and a much more comfortable interior. The Lexus GX continues to be a great value, even as used prices have started to rise over the last couple of years. If Lexus is looking to infiltrate the off-road industry to help fill the void left from the Land Cruiser departure, it seems an F-Sport Lexus GX or LX would fit the bill nicely.

The GX and LX models have body-on-frame construction, all-time four-wheel drive with a center diff-lock and low-range, plus an abundance of aftermarket parts available from their Toyota counterparts, the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado internationally and Land Cruiser. There is already a small but enthusiastic group of Lexus off-roaders in our midst and it seems Lexus has been testing the waters of the off-road industry over the past two years.


Lexus USA

Lexus USA

In 2019, Lexus offered a premium trim level on the GX460 that included several drive modes for off-road terrain and in 2020 Lexus stole the show at the Rebelle Rally by releasing the Lexus J201 concept based on the LX570. The J201 concept is an over the top representation of what is possible with these vehicles, but also what could be offered as Lexus F-Sport add-ons from the factory in the future. In case you were wondering, the J201 got second place behind repeat winner Kaliegh Miller in a Jeep Wrangler.

READ MORE: LEXUS REVEALS LX570-BASED OVERLAND CONCEPT FOR REBELLE RALLY

Although the end of the Land Cruiser will be truly felt by only a select few enthusiasts, the chance of being able to outfit a new Lexus 4×4 with warrantied off-road parts similar to the Toyota TRD trims is something I can get behind. The GX and LX models are both slated for redesign in the near future and I am hopeful that new models will carry on the legacy of the Land Cruiser exceptionally.


Header photo by: Toyota USA

Overlanding Industry News by Zach Elseman. Follow Zach @okienomads.

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