Toyota is officially bringing the Land Cruiser back to the United States—apparently by giving us the Prado, and not calling it one. But to prevent over-saturating us with midsize off-road SUVs, Toyota will reportedly make the Land Cruiser stand out by giving it throwback styling, just like how it gave us the FJ Cruiser.
"Toyota sources" reportedly told Drive that our future Land Cruiser will be styled after its forebears, specifically the 40 Series and 70 Series. It's tipped to feature circular headlights, though it's unclear how much will actually be changed from the regular Prado. For all we know, it could just have a restyled front and rear end, and the sides could remain unchanged.
The Land Cruiser will be positioned as a dedicated off-road model that directly challenges the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and to a lesser degree the Land Rover Defender. At least two model grades are reportedly planned, with one being equivalent to the Tacoma TRD Pro. The powertrain is expected to mimic the pickup's too, with a 2.4-liter hybrid turbo-four engine and four-wheel drive.
Throwback styling on the Land Cruiser could prevent it from cannibalizing sales from the similar 4Runner and Lexus GX, which share their GA-F platform with the next-gen Prado. However, positioning it as an off-roader calls into question whether the 4Runner lineup could be curtailed in some way to give the Land Cruiser room to breathe. Alternatively, since the Land Cruiser is reportedly expected to be a low-volume model by comparison, it could be a limited-run supplementary model that doesn't stamp on the 4Runner's toes too much.
Whether the SUV will be for the U.S. only is unclear: It could reportedly make its way to Europe, though Australia has reportedly been counted out. As for why we're getting the Prado and not the 300 Series, Toyota apparently couldn't make the business case work for the pricier, slow-selling Land Cruiser. Because the name still has cachet here though, the (not a) Prado could capitalize on that with a lower price. What that price will be isn't yet clear, but we know for sure it's only a matter of months before we find out.
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