Why The Toyota Land Cruiser Is Disappearing From America


The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of
the auto industry’s longest lasting and many would say most widely respected
brands in continuous production since the 1950s. It is Toyota’s longest selling vehicle
and a living piece of automotive history. The Land Cruiser helped Toyota
gain credibility as a maker of tough, durable vehicles at a time
when Japanese automakers needed to convince skeptical buyers. It was also one of the first
vehicles Toyota imported to the United States, helping to establish the reputation
that turned Toyota into one of the best selling brands
in the country. The Land Cruiser is the only model
in the Toyota lineup that has been available for every single model year
since Toyota came to the United States in 1958. Every other Toyota model
has come and gone. Nothing has been in the market with
that nameplate on every single year other than Land Cruisers. Early versions of the Land Cruiser were
known for their Spartan design and Off-Road capability, while later Iterations became
popular as a high end family hauler in the
SUV crazed 1990s. But in 2019, the Land Cruiser appears
to be disappearing from the U.S., attracting just one-fifth of the buyers who
bought it at the peak of its appeal. At least one report holds that
Toyota will pull the Land Cruiser from the U.S. around 2023. Some in the industry even say it might
be time for the Land Cruiser to go. Thers say the vehicle could find success
again in this SUV crazed market. If Toyota strips it down and
returns it to its rugged roots. So what happened? Why? When trucks and SUVs are
seeing unprecedented levels of popularity in the United States, is the Land Cruiser
selling only a few thousand units? How did it go from being
a pivotal pioneer in Toyota’s international strategy to an
often overlooked product? Toyota’s truck heritage can be traced back
to its earliest days as a company. Toyota Motor was founded in the
late 1930s by a young businessman who wanted to diversify the fabric
weaving equipment business he had inherited from his father as a
way of protecting against the larger troubles in the textile industry. Seeing the potential in the
young but growing automotive industry; Kiichiro Toyoda studied the major carmakers of
his day, such as Ford and Chrysler, and had begun a
serious effort to make cars. However, his plans were interrupted by
Japan’s involvement in World War 2, and Toyota became a supplier of
military vehicles for the Japanese war effort. After the war ended, Toyota made
trucks and buses to help with Japan’s reconstruction. But there was a turning point in
the year 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea and Toyota received
an order from the U.S. armed forces in Japan
for four-wheel drive trucks. Korea was in fifty one, was really
hot and heavy combat in the UN forces were losing a
lot of vehicles over there. And in order to replenish them, they had
to bring them all the way from the United States for the Army was
anxious to get some vehicles built closer to the front. And obviously, Japan is a is a
puddle jump away from from Korea. So they presented these bid requests
to the manufacturers and Toyota said, yeah, okay, we’ll do it. So they built
a utility vehicle that was based on the army’s specifications. And obviously, here’s what we want. Here’s the Jeep. What we want. So Toyota put it together. And Toyota had also competed for a
bid to supply trucks to the Japanese national police forces. But initially lost that to Mitsubishi,
which offered a version of the legendary American Willys Jeep. But Toyota improved its own model, which
became known as the Toyota Jeep BJ The letters, BJ standing for B-series
engine and the J standing for Jeep. Toyota demonstrated the vehicle’s capability
by testing it on famed rugged journeys that had only ever been
made on horseback, such as by following the route of a legendary
samurai’s climb up Japan’s Mt. Otago and another climb up
a section of Mount Fuji. Improvements Toyota had been making to
its truck worked and the company won the police contract
away from Mitsubishi. In the meantime, Willies had trademarked
the Jeep name, forcing Toyota to abandon it. So in 1954, Toyota
chose a new name Landcruiser. That same year, it began exporting
its Land Cruiser to other markets, first to Pakistan, then
Saudi Arabia in 1955. In many cases, the Land Cruiser was
the first vehicle Toyota exported to other countries, as was the case
with several African nations such as Angola, Cameroon and South Africa in
the late 1950s and early 1960s. And they actually called it the
Land Cruiser strategy when entering other markets. It was essentially the vehicle that
they would bring in ahead of those passenger vehicles and those other
vehicles, because they knew that there was that reputation associated with
the Landcruiser, that if they could bring that in and so that
that the cars following behind it would also sell because they’re sitting there right
there on the lot next to a Land Cruiser. Land Cruiser is made up
nearly 40 percent of all vehicles exported from Japan in 1957. Toyota began selling the Land
Cruiser in the U.S. in 1958, that year it sold just one
unit of the vehicle, along with 287 units of Toyota’s sedan. The Tokyopet Crown, due to some
difficulties Toyota had with the Crown, the Land Cruiser ended up being the
only model the company sold in the U.S. from 1961 to 1965. The Land Cruiser would remain little changed
for the next two decades from the mid 1950s to the late 1970s. But over time, Toyota did update the
vehicle, steering its design toward a more premium product with a
more plush feature rich interior. It also grew bigger. Many of the changes coincided with
the first sport utility vehicle craze in the 1990s, when the SUV became
the new preferred family car and luxury SUVs such as the Lincoln Navigator,
the Cadillac Escalade and the Land Rover Range Rover were
rocketing upward in popularity. That was a peak for Land
Cruiser sales in the U.S. Even with the marketing
and the advertising. We’ve got an ad here in the museum
and it shows I think it says something like, if you want to be the CEO,
drive whatever, you want to be the chairman of the board. You drive a Land Cruiser, and that’s kind
of how it was was marketed, was you drive this as sort of a
status, but it doesn’t get any better. Correct. Toyota sold 18,602 Land Cruisers
in 1999, the largest number in records dating back to 1973. But in 2001, sales fell to 7,591. About half of what they had
been in the previous year. And they fell further from their. That same year, some trucks that
could be considered close competitors suffered dips in sales, too. But in the years that followed,
at least some of those rebounded. Land Rovers, Range Rover, for instance,
is priced comparably to the Land Cruiser and sales of that vehicle
climbed from 5,771 in 2001 to 8,549 in 2002, 12,086 in 2003, and 13,546 in 2004. Both high fuel prices and a recession would
put a damper on all new car sales in the later 2000s. But since the U.S. economy has recovered in
the wake of the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis, Americans have run back
to their sport, utilities and pickup trucks and snapped up
the increasingly popular crossover which blends elements of cars and trucks. Demand for high end sport utility vehicles
has grown along with the rest of the market. But Land
Cruiser sales have not rebounded. Part of the reason for this is
that the Land Cruiser has some steep competition. At the high end there’s there’s
more and more choices when it comes to SUVs. I mean, you could get
a Porsche SUV, you get a Tesla SUV. There’s more and more choices there. If you’re really looking for something that
had that kind of presence or are you looking for a certain brand? Take the Range Rover. Sales of that vehicle grew from 7,800
in 2012 to slightly more than 19,000 in 2018. That is compared with little more than
3000 Land Cruisers sold in the same year. There is also competition
from within Toyota’s own stable. Buyers who want the Toyota name can buy
a much cheaper three row SUV that isn’t meant to climb mountains. The automaker began marketing the similarly
sized Toyota Sequoia in 2000, selling 9,925 that year. Sales skyrocketed to more than
70000 units by 2002. However, sales of that model also fell
over time to just over 11000 in 2018. What we see with the Landcruiser is
it’s becoming more and more of a niche because if you want a three
row large SUV, these have really become cars, right? So because small as you
see, that started with Honda series and Toyota rapports, they’ve grown up
now there’s midsize ones, there’s three row SUV. So a vehicle like the Land Cruiser
has a smaller and smaller following because people don’t
need that capability. They don’t need to go up
a Rubicon or something like that. Toyota also sells another model that
is essentially a land cruiser with more premium features. The Lexus LX, that model sold
an additional 4,753 in 2018. You’re talking about an
85 thousand dollar vehicles. Vehicle starts at that price. You look, everything else in the market
that being sold is a luxury vehicle. So it if you look anywhere else,
it makes more sense as a Lexus. But to have Toyota selling a vehicle
that could be option up to 100 thousand dollars doesn’t really make
sense in today’s market. Another reason the Land Cruiser might be
struggling is simply that it has been more than a decade since Toyota
updated it with all the competition at the higher end of the market. Automakers are under tremendous pressure
to keep products fresh. What does it bring to the table? Compare that new competitive set that
it’s against like large flagship SUV is. And while that’s taking off right,
both from a luxury and a mainstream perspective, it’s one of the things where
they really if they want to keep alive, they have to redesign it because
everyone else, you know, like the flagship luxury cars now flagship luxury
SUV, and they’re just not competing in the same space because they’ve
gone on for so long about a redesign. Toyota also spends little, if
any, money marketing the Land Cruiser in the US. This, combined with its high price and
declining sales, have led some to argue that it is time to cut
the Land Cruiser entirely from Toyota’s U.S. lineup and leave only
its Lexus badged twin. At least one report has surfaced that
Toyota will do exactly that in 2023. Toyota told CNBC it had no comment
on plans for the Land Cruiser. But as it languishes in the U.S., the Land Cruiser name continues to
thrive elsewhere, especially in parts of the world where people
still need capable vehicles. The extent of the Land Cruiser is
global renown might seem surprising to Americans unfamiliar with
the vehicle’s history. Toyota sold 319,200 Land Cruisers around
the world in twenty eighteen. Its top five markets are Australia,
China, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. In that order, Toyota
sold 42,300 Land Cruisers in Australia alone in 2018. The brand is so strong in some
parts of the world that customers in several countries can buy versions of
the truck Americans never see. For example, in many parts of the
world, it still sells the Land Cruiser 70 series. Toyota began making in
1984, though U.S. buyers can only purchase the
latest Land Cruiser model. Toyota sells the rugged, functional, far
lower priced 70s series alongside more current versions
in several markets. Of course, Toyota still does a
strong business in trucks and sport utilities. In the U.S., for example, the Toyota Tacoma is the
top seller in the midsize pickup category. The 4Runner, a smaller Off-Road
sport utility, still sells well in the U.S. Its sales have
grown from 44,316 in 2011 to 139,694 in 2018. And Toyota has expanded its Toyota
Racing Development sub brand, which has built its reputation on making
tough purpose built high performance Off-Road Vehicles. Landcruiser loyalists say a stripped
down, more affordable Land Cruiser would be a hit in the U.S. slightly more than a decade ago. The company brought the FJ cruiser to
market a purpose built sport utility with a boxy design that recalled
elements of the early FJ Landcruiser models. But the FJ cruiser was discontinued
in the United States and most other countries around the world living on
and only a select few markets. Americans who love the Land Cruiser legacy
and what the truck did for off-roading may have to settle for
another name while looking enviously at buyers elsewhere in the world where
its name is still well-known and cherished.

100 comments

Because they don’t give us the ACTUAL land cruiser. The FJ70 series sold in AU, Africa, Japan, and the Middle East, is exactly what the original land cruiser was: a stripped-down, barebones, reliable rock solid off-road vehicle. The land cruiser we get in the states is ponied up with all this luxury crap that just inflated the price.

Bring back the utilitarian Cruiser for the common person. Like the 70 series!! Make the price so the average person could buy it. Not everyone want a luxury suv.

Steep competition? The gorilla in the room that CNBC omitted is the direct Japanese competitor to both the Land Cruiser and (US-made) Sequioa: The Japan-made Nissan Armada (aka Nissan Patrol) surpassed and trounced both Toyota models in the past 2 model years. Here are model year sales figures:

2018 MY: 
Nissan Armada – 32,650
Toyota Land Cruiser – 3,235
Toyota Sequioa – 11,121

2017 MY:
Nissan Armada – 35,667
Toyota Land Cruiser – 3,100
Toyota Sequioa – 12,156

The debut of the 100% Japan-made Nissan Patrol to the USDM as the Nissan Armada was a brilliant product planning decision by Nissan North America.

why would pay $89k for a Land Cruiser when you can get a Range Rover or Porsche for $90K? besides, the American exclusive models such as Toyota Tacoma and Sequoya are overshadowing the reputation of the Land Cruiser

Love the LC. Problem is Toyota isn’t a status brand (which is something I like about it) and the price is in the luxury status category. Another issue is while it is a full size SUV the way the rear seats fold and lack of trunk room with the third row seats in make it less desirable for families.

80K for a Landcruiser is ridiculous. Thats maybe why its failing. Bring us the Australian and south African Landcruisers with the same V8 turbo diesels available to them. Make them Offroad vehicles like they are supposed to be with Front and Rear lockers a center Diff and solid axles. Bring back the FJ40 updated, but same body style!!! Since were talking about diesels what about a diesel for the Tacoma and Tundra?! what is up with that?!! Toyota has Diesels available everywhere except North America?!

Incomes aren't keeping pace with real-world inflation, so buyers drop down to lesser vehicles, or manufacturers cut corners to limit price increases. The Land Cruiser remains what it was, prices go up, and sales go down.

I love the look of the Land Cruiser. Unfortunately, its around 90k. Ended up buying a fully loaded Highlander instead for half the price. Maybe one day, I can find a low mile one for a decent price.

Americans don’t get reliability, they know – “keep up with the Jones”! Toyota focuses on reliability but other companies focus on sales, fluff and shareholders.

the problem is that Toyota's SUV line is so crowded. There is the 4unnner which is almost just as good. There is the Toyota Highlander, which is okay.. They really shot themselves in the foot by trying to turn the Land Cruiser into something it is not… A luxury brand. What they need to do is release a more spartan utilitarian version of the Land Cruiser made to compete with the likes of the Chevy Suburban. or the recently embiggened Nissan Armada

Quality. The one word not mentioned in the video and drives Toyota sales. I have a '13 4Runner now, and will get a new LC when my son gets my truck in two years. Yes, I could get a Rover, or Jeep GC, but I am not willing to live with that level of quality (low). As I see it, I will have to pay a 25% "premium" to get Toyota quality and a high-end product that is also genuinely capable, but IMO the other choices just don't add up for the long term. While I do not off-road, I do tow regularly, so having a capable vehicle that isn't a true truck is appealing. I would like to see a diesel option over a turbo six in the future.

Land Cruiser is dying in the US because it starts at $85,000. Toyota should try offering a utilitarian model like the J70 the rest of the world gets and steal some market share from Jeep. The American market has shown that there's still a demand for traditional SUVs, but they have to be true to the formula. Body-on-frame, locking differentials, insulated electronics, high air intake, weight kept as low as reasonable, built for longevity, and no goddamn bluetooth everything. Offer all that in a manual diesel and you'd earn loyalists for decades to come.

The Landcruiser is expensive in every market – even the 70 series are far too much for what they are and offer (and they are actually pretty basic in terms of fit out by 2019 standards using parts that have been around since the beginning of time). The other problem for the American market is that Toyota didn't offer the diesel versions. The latest 200 series Landcruiser is available with a twin turbo 4.5L V8 diesel in many markets and the 70 series is offered with a single turbo version of the V8 diesel and a manual transmission. It may disappear from the American market but it will still be a strong seller in many other markets.

While the Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery may have a certain snob value to them and are quite capable off road – when they run – they will never have Landcruiser's reputation for reliability.

i guess the problem that Toyota is offering only the top model of land cruiser in the US, while in other markets they offer less options models or basic ones.. land cruiser's people are not looking for a car to compete with range rover in term of luxury, they are looking for reliability and power and durability.

I wish Toyota would start off with an affordable model for those who are looking for a LR Defender alternative. I like the new Defender, but I trust Toyota reliability a lot more than Land Rover. Those who want more luxury can spec it up.

Make a TRD PRO w/ a Diesel engine in it here in the USA…..you will have something complete different than the rest of Toyota line up and the competition….simple.

North American car market is the dumbest in the world. Because of the fat and flashy americans we get the worse cars witn gas guzzling motors

Start importing 1,000 land cruisers to the US. If they are harder to get the market will grow a larger demand for them and their sales will increase. I call it the keltec effect. Offer a small amount which liquidates stock quick and builds a larger demand. Your sales will increase the more “exclusive” the vehicle becomes.

See this is why a non car person shouldn't talk about cars. 1:40 Toyota already has a rugged Land Cruiser, it's called the LC70 which is sold and is very very popular on the Middle East, The Australia and the Africa. There just isn't a demand for that in USA

The Land Cruiser sells poorly in the US because of poor marketing and price. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Land Cruiser commercial on TV or ad on YouTube or anything. Then the thing cost nearly $85,000 and Toyota doesn’t offer ANY money on the hood like they do with their other products.

Despite the slow US sales though, I do t think it’s a failure in the US and I hope they keep selling it. It’s still my favorite SUV on sale today and I would eventually like to own one.

I purchased my 2019 Land Cruiser and am very pleased with my purchase. I owned the first model Jeep Wrangler. My cruiser is every bit as capable as my Jeep. My Jeep could carry 4 people. My Cruiser carries eight. My jeep got better gas mileage. My cruiser is built more solidly than my Jeep. I use my Cruiser out in the rugged desert. My only regret are the Arizona pinstripes. Lol Cheers!

here in Saudi Arabia LC200 start from 48K$ with 4.0 V6 up to 85k$ with 5.7 V8,, and Lexus lx570 start from 106k$ up to 117k$

and they sell will here even though the prices of the gasoline skyrocket in the last few years

Price is the biggest thing, plain and simple!!! That crap is 10 years out dated and is way over priced. Get it down to 50k and they will sell like crazy!

Amazing you guys missed the YUGE elephant in the room.

The 100 and 200 series LC's are nigh unto US market specific models. They do not adhere to the LC formula that began the mark, and thus carry less reason for folks to invest in them. The 100 and 200 series are just fat, heavy SUV's riding on the real LC coat tales and are no where near the vehicle the 80 series and back LC's actually are.

The last real LC available in the US goes back to 1997. After that, Toyota began to spend less to make the LC and charge more to own a LC.

PLUS – there are FAR MORE versions of the LC that DID NOT MAKE IT to American shores than there ever was that did. Sadly.

Toyota knows the fix…send the 70 series here. But they choose not to. Unclear why, except that they may think the American market is too stupid to grasp the original concept of the LC and thus sales would suffer. I think this is a miscalculation.

MOST Americans aren't as stupid as the American media would lead the rest of the world to believe. But hey, as long as millennials are around, it'll be hard to beat back that stigma.

Update the 70 series to compete with the Wrangler in price point and options and it will sell. By itself, no one will buy a $60,000 Toyota off-roader with manual windows, cloth seats and the wheels off a box truck. But give it what people look for in a Wrangler and it will be on a fast track to outselling that solid axle Fiat in less than 10 years. 4.0 V6 or the 4.4 V8 diesel will be perfect engine options as well, now that Jeep offers both types.

Maybe if we could get it with the diesel like in Australia, etc. Then the mpg could offset the price tag. Note: price for the vehicle is still the same in other countries

The LC went from a capable vehicle of the times to a $90k+ luxury SUV. New model 4Runner owners tolerate minimal creature comforts for the reputation and capability that the 4Runner has come from and has been known for. When you look at an FJ40, an FJ80 then look at a 2020 LC it isn't the same animal. It's not what Toyota people want.

Th Range Rover is one of the most unreliable vehicles ever made. The Land Cruiser should be one of the most reliable. But such vehicles are not for me. I'd like to see the return of the original Land Cruiser, as well as the original Jeep. I had a '76 Jeep CJ5 and absolutely loved. Then they turned it into a luxury car.

Toyotas 4th/5th gen 4 runner is the LandCruiser everyone wants. Its $40-50k for a 4wd still basic and has unreal re-sale value w proven driveline. 4R sales are off the charts. When I bought my 2017 here in Socal NO dealers had any new ones I almost went to Phoenix to pick one up. Just so happen a shipment had just arrived at Port of Ling Beach and they snagged it from the port. At my job parking lot alone there are (10) 5th gen 4R's. There are a couple older LCs that are built rigs w solid front axles and those are the ones us 4R owners would be into. The LC became a bloated pig like so many American vehicles do aka Ford Excursion that went away years ago. The current 4Runner went from a smaller Tacoma truck platform to the same bigger platform under FJ cruiser and Lexus GX. Nobody cares about the LC now, they are already full speed ahead w 4 runner ownership and none of us 4R peeps every aspired to own a newer LC even if price was right.

The Lexus is the same car just different styling so doesn't make much sense to talk about them separately.
Also, that V8 is a horrendous gas hog, so many people just opt for the Highlander.
Also, stupid Americans lease cars so the Range Rover is perfect since it has a lifespan of about 36 months.

Answer is simple: Americans love buying garbage. Many will buy Jaguar Land Rover vehicles because of status (because it's what the trap rappers and big ballers drive around) and nearly cost the same or even more than the Land Cruiser yet they're inferior in quality. Jeep is a whole lot cheaper than both Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover which drives in potential amd new customers, yet their reliability is garbage as well. Don't believe me, just head on over to the Scotty Kilmer channel.

The answer is straight forward Japanese cars have ugly and outdated interiors for the price point and the Land Cruiser is the perfect example for that. The consumers for SUVs these days are soccer moms who go to the mall and not people who off-road and want something to save their life when needed. American cars have WAY more "cool" features for the price point.

This type of concept vehicle is meant for off-road to me. Sadly, I don't think there is any location in my state that I can go off-road without getting fine. lol

We can have the same vehicle in Saudi but with a V6 for 45k. If they offer more than one trim of the Land Cruiser in the US everyone would buy it!

They're too expensive. Toyota needs to give us some bare bones versions that are available in the middle east. Especially a diesel version. I know I would buy one.

Toyota: WhY IsNt ThE LaNdCrUiSeR SeLLiNg???

every offroad enthusiast in the USA: maybe if you give us a stripped down and cheaper ver-

Toyota: deletes land cruiser off the face of the usa in 2023

Here in New Hampshire (as in many other places) the FJ Cruiser is still very popular. Very dependable and can handle just about anything you throw at it. I drive one with 240K miles and it's still going strong.

Land Cruiser isn’t selling in the US bec
1) it’s expensive
2) people rather buy Range Rover , X5 , GLE , Escalade . Etc ….bec it’s branded name gives them some sense of higher self esteem from the lack there of

It competes against itself in the LX and Sequoia. Toyota should pull the LX and the Sequoia from the US market, thereby making customers go into the Land Cruiser. The current model started in 2007 as a 2008, it's a dinosaur. That said, a Land Cruiser will outlast any of the competing offerings in the segment.

Redesign the Tundra full size pick up and it’s SUV version.dump the sequoia name and call it Land Crusier,price it close to the Tahoe 🤔

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