You know what they say about smoke and fire. Not only are we getting more smoke about the return of the Toyota Land Cruiser, we’re getting smoke signals identical to those thrown up seven months ago. In December 2022, TFL Car credited a “source with familiarity of the matter” for news that the Land Cruiser would return to the U.S. in 2024. The resurrected truck wouldn’t be the global model we’re lusting over from afar, but a U.S.-market version of the Land Cruiser Prado sold overseas (pictured) under various names for more than 30 years. We’ve been acquainted with the Prado since 2002, badged as the Lexus GX. TFL Car also said the new Cruiser would offer a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid with about 350 horsepower. That doesn’t sound far from the 326-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder hybrid in the new Tacoma, eh?
Automotive News now reports that “a person familiar with the plan” says the Land Cruiser could come back here “as early as next year” in tandem with the next-generation Prado. AN then wrote that Japanese enthusiast site Clicccar said the body-on-frame truck would use the full-size Land Cruiser’s TNGA-F platform, just like the new Tundra, Sequoia, and Tacoma, and offer a 2.4-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain.
The Prado birthed the GX, now the GX is out in front of the Prado by a year. That much we know. What we’d like to know is where Toyota takes the coming Prado. Does it become a GX clone that also turns into a Land Cruiser? And if there’s a GX-sized Land Cruiser, where does the (eventually) redesigned Toyota 4Runner fit? There’s barely two inches difference in length between the current GX and 4Runner, but about $20,000 difference in price. Were those deltas to carry over to their respective new generations, why not slot a Land Cruiser in between as the hardcore mid-size off-roader to challenge the Bronco and Wrangler, and give the 4Runner some space by adding the huge dose of refinement it’s been missing for too long?
We imagine Toyota execs facing a battery of questions about this when the all-new Lexus GX debuts later today, questions we imagine those execs will sidestep and dismiss. If a Land Cruiser — one of the nameplates the brand is practically guaranteed not to flub — is really on the way back, we’re all right with Toyota demurring, but we’ll be looking at the GX even more closely.