Has Toyota Hit Peak SUV?

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

The brand will offer buyers 10 different SUVs in 2024—with plenty of overlap between them.

Toyota likes to tout itself as the only full-line automaker left in America. As the domestics have largely ditched cars, and no other Japanese brand builds two trucks anymore (see ya later, Nissan Titan), it’s a fair claim. What Toyota doesn’t address is that it will also sell more SUV models than anybody else. The brand has released no less than four new nameplates since 2021, and will have a lineup of 10 SUVs in a matter of months. Is this high-rider hysteria? Off-roader overkill?

Overland? More like overlap

With 10 different models, there’s bound to be some in-fighting. Want a three-row SUV? There are now four choices: Highlander, Grand Highlander, Sequoia, and 4Runner. Now admittedly, two of those are body-on-frame beasts, better suited to off-roading or towing than the unibody Highlander twins.

Let’s focus in on the 4Runner. Toyota’s venerable SUV might be one of the oldest models on the market, but it still sells in big figures. Come spring there will be another off-road-focused SUV sharing the sales floor however: the reborn Land Cruiser. Shorter and more affordable than before, this latest Land Cruiser is strictly a two-row affair now, and hybrid-only to boot. But it’s nearly the same size as the 4Runner, and it will be priced right on top of its elder sibling. A 4Runner TRD Pro currently lists for $56,315 ($68,990 CAD); Toyota has already said the Land Cruiser will start in the mid-50s in the US. (Canadian estimates were unavailable at the time of writing.) Toyota can say these two models serve different audiences—and we’re sure they do, subtly—but there is a whole lot of overlap in that Venn diagram.

Going down a size and moving over to crossovers, there’s the Venza and just-revealed Crown Signia. Mid-sized two-row? Check. Hybrid powertrain? Check. A push for a semi-premium feel to nip at the heels of Lexus? Check. Nope, this won’t be confusing to customers at all…

It won’t be 10 for long

On the other hand, Toyota isn’t averse to pruning the SUV shrubs when necessary. When we were poking around the 2025 Crown Signia, a Toyota spokesperson was very open about the Venza’s lifecycle heading to an end. The fancy-pants RAV4 relative will continue on for a short time after the Signia launches, but it will not see a refresh. It’s a move we saw with the now-dead C-HR and Corolla Cross: the new model better aligns with where the segment’s tastes lie. Many of the larger two-row crossover SUVs are just that: larger. The Signia gives Toyota a better competitor to the likes of the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, Honda Passport, Mazda CX-50, and Subaru Outback.

Will there be any other rationalizations? That’s a “we don’t talk about future product” sort of question but as one example, Toyota folks have told us the brand remains committed to Highlander. With Grand Highlander and Signia sandwiching this original three-row, we find the Highlander of limited appeal: the Grand has a vastly better third-row experience for barely any financial or dynamic disadvantage. In fact, September saw the Grand Highlander already out-sell its baby brother in the US, 10,177 units against 9,407. Meanwhile the Signia will have similar levels of load-carrying ability—though it sacrifices 800 pounds (363 kilograms) of towing capacity, hybrid-to-hybrid; the Highlander can manage 3,500 lb (1,588 kg).

The cars still exist

Car sales have hovered around 20 percent of the US new-car market for this decade. That could change over the next couple years, as a new generation ditches what their parents drove—a long-time trend Automotive News touched on two years ago. Even if buyers do get sick of SUVs, Toyota has an advantage over its competitors. There are still four sedans (and a minivan) in the lineup; no other non-premium automaker matches that figure, as Nissan just put the Maxima out to pasture and Kia is killing both its smallest (Rio) and largest (Stinger). Those are the practical choices too; Toyota also has another pair of two-door sports coupes in the shape of the GR86 and GR Supra.

Will the Land Cruiser and Crown Signia simply swell Toyota’s sales figures in 2024? Or is the Grand Highlander’s cannibalization of the smaller model’s figures a preview of what’s to come? We’ll find out in December 2024 whether buyers embrace this buffet.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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 1 comment
  • Ninja250 Ninja250 on Nov 23, 2023

    Yes, there are way too many SUV's. How about something different? Like a return to station wagons that still haul a lot, are more comfortable, handle better and potentially could be less expensive.