On sale since the 2008 model year and facelifted twice in the interim, the Toyota Land Cruiser has lately begun rolling out the special editions. Last year we got the 2019 Lexus LX Inspiration, this year we got the 2020 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition. This likely means a changing of the model guard is close, the 300-Series Land Cruiser on the horizon to replace the current 200-Series. When Motor Authority asked Toyota SVP Bill Fay about the U.S. getting the next generation, Fay replied, "We are fully committed to the Land Cruiser for the foreseeable future."
The reason for the question could have been Land Cruiser sales figures for the past 14 years, when the model never cleared 5,000 units. The swankier Lexus LX sibling sells in greater numbers, but even lumping the two trucks, they've crested 10,000 sales just twice since 2005. On top of that, two of the largest regional markets for the Land Cruiser are Australia and the Middle East, which have different regulatory regimes, and the 2019 Highlander has a three-row option.
Why carry on with the Land Cruiser here? Fay told MA the body-on-frame bruiser is a "heritage vehicle," a staple in the U.S. lineup since 1958.
But the Cruiser that comes next is expected to LS-ify its powertrain formula, which means getting rid of V8s for V6s. The 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower, 401 pound-feet of torque, and an EPA rating of 15 miles per gallon combined should go away. The 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 in the Lexus LS 500 gets the nod to take its place, as the Land Cruiser make concessions to fuel economy and emissions standards. A poster on a forum said it's possible that a Dynamic Force version of that engine might appear. As is, that engine makes 416 hp and 442 lb-ft in the luxury sedan and is mated to a 10-speed automatic, the same transmission said to replace the current eight-speed in the Land Cruiser. Automotive mediums predict a hybrid Cruiser, too, potentially with the same 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 and 10-speed auto in the LS hybrid, putting out 354 combined horsepower in the sedan.
Because there are so many Land Cruiser versions around the world, it's impossible to say whether V8 options will die globally. Land Cruiser fans, either through desperation or good intel, say that isn't the case. For instance, another forum poster said the 3.5-liter TT V6 and NA V6 would replace two V8s and a V6 we don't get here, but that the "Top V8 will get a new V8 not replaced with 3.5 V6." Diesel's certain to live on overseas as well, and with a Toyota engineer once stating that the Land Cruiser was designed to survive 25 years of of service in a Third World country, simple and robust options must remain on the menu. An Australian report said the "more agricultural 70 Series ... Land Cruiser ute, wagon and TroopCarrier derivatives are likely to solider on unchanged for the foreseeable future."
A Japanese report laid out dimensions for the 300 Series, which barely deviate from the current truck. The new ladder-frame chassis is said to underpin an SUV that's 194.8 inches long, 77.9 inches wide, and 75.6 inches high, on a 112.2-inch wheelbase. That means a vehicle just 1.6 inches taller and 0.1 inches shorter in length than the one we have now.
Sleeker lines, LED headlights, a lot more technology, and more differentiation between the Land Cruiser and the LX are said to be coming. Toyota Safety Sense and a new infotainment system seem a given, perhaps with the 12.3-inch screen. We could get a preview of the model at this year's Tokyo Motor Show. Production is said to commence for the Land Cruiser in mid-2020 as a 2021 model year, the LX following a year later in 2022.