Here's What We Could See in the Next Toyota Land Cruiser

Next Toyota Land Cruiser

 Here's What We Could See in the Next Toyota Land Cruiser

a car parked on the side of a mountain: Out with the Land Cruiser 200, in with the Land Cruiser 300.© Toyota Out with the Land Cruiser 200, in with the Land Cruiser 300.

Current-gen Land Cruiser leaves U.S. lineup after 2021 model year.

Redesigned Land Cruiser 300 due next year, without V8 power.

Next-gen model gets V6 gas and diesel engines, V6 hybrid option.

If you have been thinking of buying a new Toyota Land Cruiser, you now have less than a year to get one, because the Japanese automaker's long-running land crusher is going away after the 2021 model year. And it's doing so during what seemed like one of the peaks in the popularity of large sport utilities, and at a time when older generations such as the FJ60 and FJ80 are beginning to command serious money at auctions.

But in reality the Land Cruiser had been rumored to be on the chopping block for some time, along with its Lexus LX570 sibling. The aging SUV's sales had slowed to the low thousands of units a year for the past few years as less thirsty and less pricey crossovers have surged past. And despite the updated skin and interior, today's generation actually debuted for the 2008 model year. This makes it among the oldest vehicles offered today, and also a bit of a niche offering at this point given its focus on off-road dynamics. Its 14-mpg combined rating hasn't been helping it pick up sales either, even with relatively low gas prices.

The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade might have diminished the case for the Land Cruiser even further in the U.S. That said the Land Cruiser has certainly been a luxury item for the past 40 years, and thus remained somewhat free from competitive pressure from other segments and other, similar-sized vehicles. Odds are if you were buying a Land Cruiser sometime in the past decade, you weren't going to be cross-shopping it with a lot of other models to find something less thirsty or more versatile — you were just buying the Land Cruiser.

The Lexus LX 570, just a few luxury options up and never really hiding what it was based on, had been posting similar sales numbers in the U.S. the past few years, and had also become a niche model in a lineup that had largely turned away from off-road ability.

But the Land Cruiser nameplate itself is not going away. Toyota has been rumored to be working on the next generation, expected to land elsewhere next year as the Land Cruiser 300 Series. The new car ditches V8 engines, relying on six-cylinder gas engines and even a 3.3-liter six-cylinder diesel. One of these V6s is expected to be a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter, while another is expected to be a hybrid version of that engine.

Taken together, that's three sixes, one a diesel that could make up quite a big chunk of all sales, keeping in mind the Land Cruiser has been a much bigger deal overseas in the past decade than in North America. And diesel is still the way to roll in many countries that need Land Cruisers in order to cruise the land.

So engine downsizing, perhaps overdue, is indeed happening with the next-generation, and it is also expected to be quite a bit lighter.

The 300 Series is expected to stay roughly the same size as the outgoing model because Toyota has smaller SUVs below it. These include the Land Cruiser Prado as well as the Fortuner, smaller yet again but not due for a refresh for another few years. So in size and off-road ability, the next-gen Land Cruiser can't really stray from today's capabilities. It remains to be seen whether we'll get the expected 2022 model in the U.S. right away, or one or two years later. The latest rumors suggest a gap around a year or so, while the 300 model goes on sale elsewhere in the world.

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