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First Drive: 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

by | April 16, 2024

After a three-year hiatus, Toyota’s most rugged SUV is making its return. Though it retains its body-on-frame construction, the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is new from the ground up. Despite adding a number of new features – including the SUV’s first-ever hybrid drivetrain – it also comes with what Toyota describes as a “more accessible” price tag. Headlight.News spent some time behind the wheel of the new Land Cruiser going off-road through the Cuyamuca Mountains east of San Diego.


2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser gets a bit of a retro-futuristic design.

The fate of the Land Cruiser has been a matter of some debate since Toyota appeared to be ending its six-decade run in the U.S. at the close of the 2021 model-year. That was all the more of a surprise considering it was the automaker’s longest-running nameplate in North America. The full-size sport-utility vehicle many expected to replace the old Land Cruiser was, for the first time, marketed solely as the Lexus LX. But Toyota planners felt that off-roaders were simply overpriced – at least for Toyota buyers.

The Land Cruiser name didn’t vanish, however. It remains a staple in many other parts of the world, adopting a newer, slightly smaller – and less expensive — form as the Land Cruiser Prado. But it became increasingly obvious that the new platform would show up in the States underpinning a variety of new products, including both the Lexus GX, the newly redesigned Toyota Tacoma, the sixth-generation Toyota 4Runner and, it turns out, an all-new Land Cruiser.

Smaller but more rugged

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser - w Tacoma

The 2024 Land Cruiser shares its body-on-frame platform with several other new Toyota models such as this Tacoma, as well as the upcoming 4Runner redesign.

Compared to the outgoing 200 Series Land Cruiser, the next-generation ute goes with a boxy and decidedly retro look. It’s 4.4 inches narrower and ½ inches shorter than the model it replaces. For serious off-roaders, several other numbers are likely to matter even more. The 2024 Land Cruiser has an approach angle up to 31.0 degrees and a departure angle of 22.0 degrees. The breakover angle reaches 25.0 degrees, while ground clearance is increased to 8.7 inches.

Useful features include rock rails and multiple steel skid plates – optional on lower trims, standard on others. The various models all include front tow/recovery hooks as standard fare. Also depending upon trim you’ll find features like front and center locking differentials and a stabilizer bar disconnect that, when released, significantly increases wheel travel.

As has become the norm for most true off-road vehicles these days, the 2024 Land Cruiser adds a long list of tech features that can help make even novices feel like off-road pros, including Multi-Terrain Select and Downhill Assist Control.

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Out on the trail

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser - tire up on mogul

Locking differentials and a stabilizer bar release help the new Land Cruiser handle moguls and other off-road hazards.

Unfortunately, Toyota wouldn’t let journalists take the new Land Cruiser out on public roads. There simply weren’t enough of the pre-production SUVs to go around during our recent drive event. But I did spend a few hours putting a well-equipped First Edition package through its paces on a series of off-road trails at the 250-acre Vogt Ranch.

More and more Americans seem to be going off-road these days. Perhaps more accurately, more and more want their vehicles to have the capabilities to get off the pavement. And manufacturers have responded with an assortment of new products and even some new “sub-brands,” such as Subaru’s Wilderness line-up and Ford’s popular Bronco family.

Push industry planners and they’ll acknowledge that most buyers will never see anything rougher than gravel. But Land Cruiser traditionally has drawn more serious trail hunters and that was reflected in the course it let us go out on, with a series of challenging hill climbs, moguls, and rock crawls.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser - rear on mogul

New features, such as a multi-terrain function, help set up the vehicle for different conditions, such as mud and ruts, sand, or snow.

The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser handles them all with aplomb. That extended wheel travel made the moguls all but vanish, while the First Edition’s steel skid plates kept the SUV’s more delicate parts safe when clambering across a rock-strewn creek. And the truck’s 33-inch BFGoodrich tires rarely lost grip, even on loose patches of dirt.

The new tech features clearly helped. The Multi-Terrain Select system, for one thing, allowed me to dial in specific road conditions, such as mud and ruts, or rock crawling. That instantly reset a variety of vehicle functions, including the transmission, throttle response, and differentials, to yield the best possible traction. The Crawl function- and Downhill Assist Control – which act like a low-speed, off-road cruise control you can set at anywhere from one to 10 mph – allowed me to pick a safe and comfortable speed without having to jump back and forth from brake to throttle.

First-ever hybrid

Power for all versions of the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser comes from the 2.4-liter iForce Max four-cylinder engine. The first-time hybrid package uses a 48-volt motor drive built into the truck’s eight-speed automatic gearbox and draws power from a 1.87 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser - front on moguls

All versions of the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser features the same mild hybrid powertrain.

The engine makes 326 hp and 465 lb-ft and sends power through a 2-speed transfer case to all four wheels. As earlier noted, Land Cruiser can be purchased with useful features, including center and rear electronically locking differentials and a stabilizer bar release.

Fuel economy isn’t exactly Prius hybrid level, but it’s certainly better than the old Land Cruiser at 22 mpg City, 25 Highway and 23 Combined.

All versions of the new Land Cruiser can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

Exterior design

Like the 2024 Lexus GX, the 2024 Land Cruiser adopts a much more traditional truck stance and silhouette, with a much more boxy silhouette and rising beltline. It also gets a chunkier grille and unique bumpers that should enhance the Toyota SUV’s approach and departure angles.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser - IP

The new Land Cruiser gets two displays – but maintains many classic manual controls.

But there are modern touches, inside and out, starting with the multi-bulb LED headlamps on most trim packages. And there’s also a retro-futuristic 1958 package which gets a Toyota “heritage grille” and round LED headlamps.

Interior design and technology

The cabin is decidedly more modern than the old 200 Series, though Toyota deserves kudos for avoiding the touchscreen-only fad that so many manufacturers have succumbed to. While most vehicle functions can be handled digitally, the SUV retains a number of knobs and buttons for audio and climate controls, as well as functions like Multi-Terrain Select.

Base packages feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. The top-trim Land Cruiser package gets a 12.3-inch multimedia display, as well as an available 14-speaker JBL sound system. The infotainment system has useful functions, such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also offers some readouts that are particularly useful for serious off-roading.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser - touchscreen

The digital displays offer numerous camera views and other readouts useful for off-roading.

An AT&T 4G hotspot is also available and can connect up to five different devices. And a smart key system is standard on all trims. A digital key, which can be shared with others, is another option.

The 2024 Land Cruiser’s technology includes the latest version of the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 system, a collection of advanced driver assistance systems that include pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, dynamic cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane tracing assist, among other features.

Pricing and availability

The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser will begin rolling into U.S. dealer showrooms later this spring. It will be imported from Japan.

The new truck gets a simplified pricing structure with just three trim levels available. The base Land Cruiser 1958 edition starts at $55,950 before delivery fees. The mid-grade Land Cruiser jumps to $61,950, with the First Edition I drove starting at $74,950.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser - cargo bed

The new Land Cruiser comes only in a two-row configuration but offers plenty of cargo space.

Depending upon what trim you go for there are plenty of options, many of them dealer-installed. There are others available from the factory, such as the Premium Pack which offers niceties such as a 14-speaker JBL sound system, power moonroof, a chiller box in the center console, and more.

Last word

Anyone worried about whether the new Land Cruiser would deliver the same sort of off-road capabilities as the old truck can now relax. The 2024 model seems to be fully up to its long-standing reputation and appears to take things a step further thanks to all its new features. If anything, functions like Crawl Control can make even newbies feel like heroes.

But is it worth the money? At a starting price of around $32,000, the Jeep Wrangler also delivers plenty of off-road credibility, as does the Ford Bronco which starts at $39,630. When it comes to a more luxurious ride, you can get into a Land Rover Discovery for about $4,000 more than the mid-range Land Cruiser package – though you’ll also have to add a few features, such as larger tires, for a truly apples-to-apples comparison.

2025 Toyota 4Runner Trailhunter - side on rock

Among the most serious competitors to the Land Cruiser, Toyota is about to bring out an all-new version of the 4Runner.

What may pose tougher competition is something that Toyota itself is about to bring to market in the form of the all-new 4Runner. Pricing hasn’t been released but we expect a modest increase from the outgoing model, which ranges from $42,000 for a base SUV to $70,000 for a top-line package. It makes the comparison all the more challenging considering all the features the new 4Runner will come with. And that model is available in a three-row configuration, the new Land Cruiser only comes in a 2-row layout.

Styling is one factor that will play in Land Cruiser’s favor. And it does have a bit more luxurious feel to it, along with a few more high-line features.

Toyota officials don’t appear concerned. They foresee two distinctly different types of buyers, those going for the Land Cruiser described as “more serious.” Those who do opt for the reborn nameplate certainly will enjoy some serious off-road capabilities. I’m hoping to find out how it fares on-road in the near future.



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