Toyota «committed» to Land Cruiser for U.S.

The dinosaur of the Toyota lineup won’t go extinct anytime soon, one of the automaker’s top North American-market executives told Motor Authority Wednesday at the 2019 New York International Auto Show.

«We are fully committed to the Land Cruiser for the foreseeable future,» Toyota senior vice president of Automotive Operations Bill Fay said on the sidelines of the show. His comments may suggest that the next-generation Land Cruiser will also be earmarked for the U.S. 

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Fay called the Land Cruiser a «heritage vehicle» for the automaker in the U.S. A version of the off-roader has been sold in the U.S. since 1958, although the luxurious current model has evolved considerably from its early days as a glorified farm implement. 

The Toyota Land Cruiser’s design dates to the 2008 model year and a replacement has been expected for several years, although it won’t appear here until at least the 2021 model year. One hurdle that lies ahead is reducing the SUV’s fuel consumption, even with the Trump administration’s proposal to freeze fuel-economy standards. The 2019 Land Cruiser is powered by a thirsty V-8 that the EPA rates at just 15 mpg combined, among the lowest of any vehicle currently on sale. 

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The big SUV’s $86,000 price, however, is more than twice what the average new car buyer spent last year. Accordingly, the Land Cruiser is not a big seller for Toyota. Just 764 were delivered in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2019, making it the automaker’s second-lowest seller behind its limited-market Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car. 

The Land Cruiser forms the basis for the costlier Lexus LX 570, which sells in about twice the numbers of its Toyota sibling and may help the automaker justify the effort and expense of certifying the big SUVs to comply with U.S. regulations. 

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