Are body-on-frame SUVs long for this world? Not according to Toyota USA President Jim Lentz who made the bold prediction that “By 2025, I think one can assume that most of the frame-based vehicles will be gone.”
Lentz made the remarks while discussing the future of Lexus and their SUV lineup. Lexus currently markets two frame-based trucks, the GX460 (aka the Toyota Prado) and the Lexus LX570 (based on the Toyota Land Cruiser 200). Those models may be popular
with U.N peacekeepers in world markets, but Lentz feels that car based SUVs can handle the towing requirements that have traditionally been an advantage for truck-based SUVs, without the weight or efficiency drawbacks.
Lentz isn’t alone, with Nissan and Ford shifting their Pathfinder and Explorer models to unibody construction. Sales of the Explorer have doubled since the redesign, even with an outcry from the automotive press. Chevrolet won’t be bringing their truck-based Trailblazer to North America either, since the Traverse and Equinox have been judged to do the job adequately. Cars like the Range Rover Evoque will likely be the rule, rather than the exception, for premium SUVs going forward. On the other hand, vehicles like the Chevrolet Suburban, which are spun off of full-size truck platforms (and are extremely profitable because of that), will probably stick around for a long time.