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Lexus pick-up truck a possibility if customers demand it, but only as an EV


Luxury-marque pick-ups continue to be a largely untapped niche in America and Australia, but past US attempts have failed

Toyota’s luxury counterpart Lexus is not imminently studying whether it should release a premium Toyota Hilux / Tacoma pick-up truck adaptation.

But the brand’s president Takashi Watanabe says that the electric platforms the brand is playing a role in developing at present could support an EV pick-up in future.

Front left three quarter view of a blue 2023 Toyota Tundra Limited i-Force Max Hybrid on a country lane
Lexus doesn’t plan to cut Toyota’s pick-up grass – at this point.

“At the moment, we can’t say we will be developing a Lexus pick-up truck. Lexus has a different role to play as a brand when compared to Toyota,” Watanabe said.

“We are playing the role of driving battery EV [development] and the future of carmaking based on battery EVs.”

Customer needs will dictate future Lexus EV lineup

But the Lexus chief said that he’d also been tasked with responding to increasingly diverse customer needs – and hinted that there are few limits on what segments that future Lexus models could play in.

“We want to respond to diversifying values of people and the world, and we want to be able to offer as many options as possible into the future.

An AI-generated image of a red Lexus-branded pick-up truck against a background of forested trees
A future Lexus EV platform could support a pick-up – if there was demand for such a vehicle.

“If there is a strong need from consumers and drivers of the Lexus brand to release, or launch, a Lexus pick-up truck, that will be an option. It is a matter of possibility in future and we won’t deny a Lexus pick-up truck – but as of now, we have no such discussion.”

If Lexus entered the luxury pick-up space with an EV ute, it would mainly contend with the GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T and forthcoming Tesla Cybertruck in the US market.

Rivian R1T 2022 blue front
US brand Rivian sells the electric R1T – a premium pick-up.

None of those vehicles are sold in Australia.

Lexus is a specialist in luxury off-roaders

It should be remembered that Lexus is, in fact, a specialist in luxurious, dedicated off-roaders. 

The marque has sold the Lexus LX – an adaptation of the full-size Toyota Land Cruiser with essentially the same level of capability – continuously since 1996.

Lexus makes serious off-roaders, like the incoming GX.

In 2024, Lexus will release its smaller GX four-wheel drive (review here) to Australia for the first time. The GX is based on Toyota’s 250-series Land Cruiser Prado and packs a two-speed transfer case and considerable off-road prowess.

Combining leather- and wood-lined cabins with serious articulation and low-range is an unusual specialisation of Lexus – rivals like BMW and Audi have no match for the GX or LX.

2022 Lexus LX600 SUV black - rear 3/4 static shot #1
With full access to the Land Cruiser platform, perhaps a Lexus ute isn’t such an unusual idea.

Mercedes-Benz forces buyers into the far more expensive G-Class to achieve similar capabilities, while Lexus quality has typically been higher than in competing Land Rover models.

So, perhaps a Lexus version of the Toyota Hilux, Tacoma or Tundra isn’t so strange.

The odd landscape of premium pick-up trucks

In Australia, the Toyota ute range is currently capped by the rough-and-ready $73,990 Hilux GR Sport, though the brand will add the US-built Tundra pick-up to its lineup in 2024.

The landscape is much more vibrant in the US.

Rear left three quarter image of a 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT pick-up truck in a forest
Cadillac sold an Escalade EXT pick-up for about ten years.

The American market has seen a number of luxury pick-up truck entrants but all have failed to find extensive commercial success.

Cadillac sold an ‘EXT’ ute version of its Escalade luxury SUV from 2001-2013, while Ford marketed the Lincoln Blackwood – a higher-end version of the Ford F-150 – for just two years in the early 2000s.

The closest thing to a luxury brand selling a pick-up truck would be the premium-pitched GMC in the United States, which offers midsize Canyon and large Sierra models with slightly higher-end fit-outs than their Chevrolet counterparts.

In many ways, top-of-the-range versions of pick-up trucks from mainstream manufacturers like Chevrolet, Ford and Ram satisfy requirements for a leather-lined workhorse, while Toyota sells a lush Tundra Capstone variant for about $120,000 AUD.

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