The Toyota Land Cruiser has been notably absent in the automaker’s US lineup since the 2021 model year. By then, the model that started life as a rough-and-tumble Jeep CJ5 rival had grown in both size and status to become an eight-seat premium SUV with an $87,000 price tag – as well as some formidable off-road talent.
Despite the model’s three-year absence in American showrooms, a new off-road SUV is headed our way. The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is hearkening back to its roots with a few retro styling cues, more maneuverable size, and most importantly, a lower price. Although not the roofless FJ40 redux many hoped for, the new Land Cruiser should be more attainable than the last one, with a starting price in the mid-$50,000 range. Codenamed the J250, the new model rides on the same TNGA-F platform as the Lexus GX and overseas-only 300-Series Land Cruiser, but with a more affordable price tag than the former and smaller dimensions than the latter.
|2024 Toyota Land Cruiser
|Turbocharged 2.4-Liter I4 Hybrid
|326 Horsepower / 465 Pound-Feet
|Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive, Two-Speed Transfer Case
|Approach / Departure / Breakover Angle
|31 Degrees / 22 Degrees / 25 Degrees
Like the GX, the 2024 Land Cruiser gets an upkicked window beltline, but the design similarities between the two aren’t hugely obvious. Both get the same nearly flat windshield and upright side windows, but the Land Cruiser’s details make it look more purposeful and less flashy than the Lexus.
That starts up front, where the Toyota gets a blockier front bumper and rectangular grille opening. Curiously, the base 1958 trim level and the flagship First Edition get round LED headlights, while the middle-tier (and simply named) Land Cruiser trim gets rectangular units á la FJ62. The 1958 gets a plastic-heavy front fascia that should be cheaper to replace than the Land Cruiser and First Edition’s painted bits.
Around the back, the Land Cruiser ditches a full-width light bar in favor of simple, squared-off taillights on the corners. The design is delightfully free of frippery, and the full-size spare tire is tucked up nice and clean underneath the rear bumper. The simple design, although not overtly retro, calls back to an era when SUVs like the Land Cruiser were tools to do a job. In that purposeful mission, the 250-Series LC gets hatch glass that can open on its own, although the old Land Cruiser’s downward-folding tailgate is gone in favor of a more conventional liftgate.
Curiously, the Land Cruiser comes standard with all-season tires no matter which trim level you choose, so serious off-roaders should prioritize getting more capable rubber on their vehicles as soon as possible. Wheel designs are likewise unremarkable – we wish the 1958 edition at least offered old-school steelies as an option for both aesthetics and rough-road robustness.
While the Lexus GX and 300-Series Land Cruiser get twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 engines under the hood, the US-market 250-Series will make use of an advanced I-Force Max turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four. Don’t underestimate this mill, though, as it produces an impressive 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. What’s more, there will likely be an abundance of grunt even at low speeds thanks to the 48-hp electric motor mounted within the eight-speed automatic gearbox. The instant torque of the motor should help the Land Cruiser step off the line smartly or get over tough rocks with relative ease.
Like all Land Cruisers before it, the new 250-Series will come standard with four-wheel drive. In this instance, it’s a full-time setup with a selectable two-speed transfer case, as well as an automatic limited-slip center differential and locking rear diff.
Above all, the 2024 model has an impressive set of statistics to back up its legendary name. The new LC will boast 8.7 inches of ground clearance, with approach, departure, and breakover angles of 31, 22, and 25 degrees respectively. Most importantly, many of the SUV’s crucial underbody components are tucked up within the frame rails, which will help it scramble over rocks and obstacles without dragging too much. The lowest-hanging parts of the Land Cruiser are the rear trailing links, which do seem a little vulnerable but should nonetheless be robust enough to avoid serious trail damage.
In addition to thoroughly acceptable off-road geometry, the Land Cruiser will also come with some additional software to help it tackle the rough. All Land Cruiser models will come standard with low-speed crawl control, which handles throttle and brake application to allow the driver to focus on steering through obstacles, while Downhill Assist Control helps manage speed when descending steep grades. We’ve sampled these features on the Tacoma TRD Pro and found them to be neat little party tricks to help ease the burden on the driver.
Step up from the base Land Cruiser 1958 into the mid-tier model and you’ll get a front sway bar disconnect to improve flex over large rocks. Also standard on the Land Cruiser and the flagship First Edition is Multi-Terrain Select, which will offer a few different settings for a variety of terrains, including mud, rocks, and sand. Finally, the top two trims also get a Multi-Terrain Monitor, which projects images of the trail in front of, beneath, and along the sides of the vehicle to help you place your wheels appropriately.
In a return to form, the Land Cruiser will only be sold as a five-seater – just like its predecessors from the 1970s and 1980s. Although not as overtly luxurious as the 100- and 200-Series that came before it, the new 250-Series’ cabin still feels well built, with soft-touch plastics appearing on the upper dash and door panels. But even the harder stuff gets an unusual, premium-feeling rubberized coating that helps blunt out the cheapness.
What’s more, even the base Land Cruiser 1958 gets heated front seats and a heated steering wheel for its cloth-upholstered interior. Go for the mid-tier Land Cruiser and you’ll get Softex imitation leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, while the flagship First Edition gets genuine leather.
The Land Cruiser also has a decent tech suite, with the base model receiving a smallish 8.0-inch touchscreen display that runs the latest Toyota infotainment that we’ve liked every time we interact with it. Opt for either of the two upper trims and there’s a 12.3-inch display running the same software. Every LC gets adaptive cruise control, lane centering, automatic emergency braking, lane departure prevention, and blind spot monitoring. The abundance of standard active safety and driver assist features is a nice bonus, especially for a segment that often leaves folks to fend for themselves.
In For A Penny
A more official pricing breakdown, as well as fuel economy and interior specs, will come at a later date. For now, Toyota has committed to a mid-$50,000 starting price for the base Land Cruiser 1958 trim level, with the Land Cruiser and Land Cruiser First Edition to undoubtedly cost more than that. And it won’t be alone in that price bracket.
In comparison, a base Land Rover Defender 110 – the 250-Series’ most natural competitor – starts at $62,075 including destination. Meanwhile, 55 large could get someone into a four-door Ford Bronco Badlands with the EcoBoost 2.7-liter V6, a vehicle that offers less power than the Land Cruiser but the added fun of a removable roof and doors. And if a hybrid powertrain is a must, there’s always the plug-in 2024 Jeep Wrangler 4xe, which starts at $51,790 in base form.
Those rivals will give the Land Cruiser a hard time in the showroom sales race, but don’t count the 250-Series out just yet. Its robust suspension layout, torque-rich powertrain, and sterling reputation for reliability and off-road talent should give it more than a few fans right off the bat. Although we won’t get our hands on one until later this year – and three years after the old 200-Series left us – the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser appears to have been worth the wait.