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Toyota’s iconic Land Cruiser offroader returns to North America

Toyota Land Cruiser. (Twitter)


Toyota Motor Corp. is bringing its iconic Land Cruiser back to North America next year with slimmer dimensions and a lower pricetag.

The world’s biggest carmaker unveiled three variations of its most enduring model in Tokyo on Wednesday.

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Production will be limited to 5,000 units for the first two months and pricing will start at around $50,000. The trucks will become available in Japan during the first half of 2024, and shipped to the US the following spring.

The smaller Land Cruiser 70 will return to Japan this winter.

Having been absent from the US market for three years, the newest iteration of the rugged offroader will be narrower and shorter than its predecessor 200 Series — which was a full-size, luxury SUV. The new model will be 4.4 inches (11.2 centimeters) narrower, 1.2 inches shorter and have up to 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

All three versions — the Land Cruiser 1958, Land Cruiser and the limited run Land Cruiser First Edition — will be powered by an i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain that pairs a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor attached to an eight-speed transmission — playing to Toyota’s strength in hybrids which are hot sellers in the US market.

For offroad and camping enthusiasts, the cars will come standard with a 6,000-pound (2,700 kilogram) tow hitch, double-wishbone front suspension, center locking differential, automatic slip differential and an electronic locking rear differential. The hybrid engine produces 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque.

However, there’s no current plans to build an all-electric model. Toyota has been criticized for its slow embrace of electric vehicles, though newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Koji Sato has promised to expand EV production while continuing to offer a broad range of hybrid and gasoline cars.

The latest Land Cruiser will be built on the same platform as several Toyota trucks including the Prado, Sequoia, Tacoma and Tundra, as well as the Lexus LX and GX. The 2024 model will look similar to those offered since 2021 in Japan, where production of the Land Cruiser never ended.

When it was introduced to the US market in 1958, the Land Cruiser didn’t exactly take off — in fact, only one was sold during its inaugural year in America. But over time it grew in sales and popularity, slowly becoming the symbol of an adventurous, outdoor lifestyle.

The new First Edition is a proper homage to that spirit, coming equipped with a roof rack, rock rails, round headlamps and mudflaps.

And yet, it’s the latest in a long line of nostalgic re-releases from carmakers looking to cushion their bottom line with adored products.

Ford Motor Co. launched a modern take on the Bronco in 2020 and General Motors Co. electrified its Hummer in 2022. Stellantis NV’s Jeep division, meanwhile, has been making Wranglers since World War II.

Land Cruiser sales had been declining for two decades before Toyota ended production in 2021, the same year the Japanese carmaker announced a new domestic model — the 300 Series.

According to Toyota, the Land Cruiser, the Lexus LX and GX have together sold 11.3 million units as of June 2023.

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