2024 Toyota Land Cruiser First Drive: Nostalgia Overload In A Sophisticated Hybrid Package - SUV VEHICLE

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser First Drive: Nostalgia Overload In A Sophisticated Hybrid Package

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Summary

  • The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser offers a retro look with two headlight choices.
  • The highly capable 1958 base model can hold its own in the trails.
  • Spacious, functional cabin with utilitarian design for comfort and visibility.



In 2024, if you sell a truck or an SUV, you’ve got a lot of chances of making it big. If you can add to that off-road capability and a nameplate that has a reputation for being indestructible, then you just got yourself an instant hit. Does it evoke a sense of nostalgia as an added bonus? You, my friend, have just hit the jackpot.

The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser seems to have all the “take my money” boxes checked. It’s back after a brief two-year hiatus in the US and a 35-year pause in Canada. Except this time, it’s oozing with nostalgia and even more off-road capability with the expected Toyota-approved stamp of reliability. But underneath that boxy shape lies a refined and sophisticated hybrid off-roader.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser front quarter
2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

Expert Opinion: Dating to 1951, the Land Cruiser is completely reinvented for 2024. It rides on a modern global truck platform and has heritage-inspired styling inside and out. The biggest change is that V-8 engines are no longer available: North America will only get an inline-four 2.4-liter turbo hybrid. Offroad capability remains best in class.

Engine
2.4-liter turbo inline-four hybrid

Horsepower
326 Horsepower

Torque
465 LB-FT

MSRP
$55,000

Transmission
8-speed automatic

Driveline
Four-wheel drive

Model
Land Cruiser

MSRP (As Tested)
$61,950

Fuel Economy
23 MPG

Towing Capacity
6,000 pounds
Pros
  • Looks the way a modern Land Cruiser should, choose your headlights!
  • Even the base model is a highly capable off-roader.
  • Spacious, comfortable and highly functional cabin.
Cons
  • Not cheap.
  • Hybrid system won’t run in EV mode.
  • No third row option.

The Toyota Land Cruiser tested here was purely driven off the road during a Toyota-controlled event. We’ll need to drive it on the road for a longer period for a more detailed review. For detailed insight into testing procedures and data collection, please review our
methodology policy
.



2024 Toyota Land Cruiser First Impressions

When LED lighting became a thing in the automotive industry, I remember thinking that automakers would finally be able to make some truly unique headlight designs. It took a while, but car designers finally worked their magic into conceptualizing some truly unique creations. The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is a great example of this as it offers not one, but two headlight choices.

Opt for an entry level 1958 model, and round headlights you’ll get. But climb the trim hierarchy to the regular Land Cruiser model, and your rig will be fitted with a rectangular set mimicking those of the J80 series from the early 1990s.


2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Round Headlights

If I were to choose, I’d go with the square headlights simply because I find they work better with this truck’s squared-off appearance. What sucks is that you can’t independently choose which set you want as they’re dependent on the trim level. So if you want round headlights and a fully loaded truck, you’re out of luck, unless you opt for the top-spec First Edition, but that one won’t be available forever.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Front Three Quarter


Generally speaking, the Land Cruiser looks the way a modern Land Cruiser should. It no longer appears like a homogenous member of the Toyota SUV lineup like the last-generation model did, but rather like an ubercool, nostalgia-injected, playful off-road toy born out of truly creative design.

This thing looks like it would belong in the Lego Technic universe. My inner child screams I want one.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser: Differences Between The US And Canadian Market

US Market

Canadian Market

1958 ($55.950 USD)

1958 ($69,290 CAD)

Land Cruiser ($61,950 USD)

Land Cruiser ($77,290 CAD)

Land Cruiser Premium Package ($66,550 USD)

Land Cruiser Premium Package ($83,290)

Land Cruiser First Edition ($74,950 USD)

Land Cruiser First Edition ($90,370)


Exterior Dimensions

Length

193.8 in.

Width

77.9 in.

Height

76.1 in.

Wheelbase

112.2 in.

Front Track

NA

Rear Track

NA

Curb Weight

5,038 lb.

Driving Impressions And Performance

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Offroading 1-1


Because I was only allowed to drive the Land Cruiser on a closed off-road course controlled by Toyota, I wasn’t able to give it the same kind of analysis as I normally do. I’ll need to spend more time with a press unit on my own time to discover more.

That offroad parcours, however, was gnarly enough to truly evaluate this thing’s capability, and in all its forms. Toyota had base, classic 1958 models at our disposal, as well as more advanced and better equipped Land Cruiser trim levels.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Offroading 2

In both cases, the rigs delivered, even if they were fitted with rather humble
Yokohama Geolander X-CV
all-season tires. I can only imagine the kind of damage these badboys would do to a trail if they were equipped with genuine off-road rubber.


As a matter of fact, if I had to choose my adventure-ready rig, it would be a base, option-less 1958 model. The lack of side-steps and no electronic gimmicks like Toyota’s Crawl Control or forward-facing cameras, for me, represent the essence of off-roading.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Driving Front 1

All Land Cruisers come standard with full-time four-wheel drive with a high (1.00:1) and low gear (2.57:1), as well as front and rear locking differentials. Upper trim levels add sway bar disconnection for improved suspension flexing. All models sold on our market also come with the same drivetrain. In this case, it’s a hybrid version of Toyota’s now ubiquitous 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, called internally the i-Force Max.


Contrary to Toyota’s hybrid cars and crossovers that utilize two and, in some cases, even three electric motors, the i-Force Max runs a single motor generator squeezed between the engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission. This allows the Land Cruiser to remain a true body on frame 4×4 with a shift on the fly transfer case, a driveshaft and a lockable rear locker.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Offroading

The hybrid system therefore mostly acts as a way to boost power instead of truly reducing fuel economy (more on that later), but also to prevent increasing tailpipe emissions in the process. The total combined output is rated at 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. All versions of the Land Cruisers will tow up to 6,000 pounds.


About that drivetrain. Again, I wasn’t able to properly test it out in real-world situations, but out there on the beaten path, I was impressed by how smooth and linear it all felt. That’s because, contrary to a conventional hybrid system, the Land Cruiser’s layout never runs in electric mode. The electric motor operates rather like a mild hybrid system, but with considerably more assistance. This allows for improved throttle response, but also prevents having to deal with awkward transitions between electric and gasoline propulsion when slowly crawling up a trail in 4×4 Low.

Performance Specifications

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Engine


Battery Type

Nickel Metal Hydride

Usable Battery Capacity

1.87 KWH

Electric Motor Type

AC Permanent Magnet Synchronous

Internal Combustion Engine

Turbocharged 2.4L Four-Cylinder

Combined Horsepower

326 HP @ 6,000 RPM

Combined Torque

465 LB-FT @ 1,700 RPM

Transmission

8-Speed Automatic

Towing Rating

6,000 LB

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Fuel Consumption

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Grille


Fuel Consumption Data

The event didn’t allow me to really drive the Land Cruiser in real-world situations. I also spent way too little time with it to truly assess any forms of fuel consumption.

Now, I wrote earlier that the hybrid system wasn’t engineered to improve fuel efficiency, but rather to boost horsepower and torque. That’s not entirely true. While the EPA-rated numbers (see below) aren’t game-changing and appear to be similar to those of a traditional V6-powered midsize SUV, it’s worth mentioning that the Land Cruiser packs considerably more horsepower and torque than your average mall-crawler.

City

Highway

Combined

EPA/Natural Resources Canada Rated Energy Consumption

22 MPG

25 MPG

23 MPG

Energy Consumption As Tested

NA

NA

NA

Interior Design And Comfort


While the Land Cruiser’s higher trim levels add pleasant luxury touches such as leather seats and surfaces, Toyota did a good job of preserving the vehicle’s utilitarian approach. In other words, while it’s always well put together, with a sense of quality and longevity, it’s also all presented in a very simple and conservative way.

Functionality is key here as the Land Cruiser is loaded with grab handles, storage solutions, as well as easily located knobs and buttons to operate its go-anywhere equipment. Circular air vents and subtle LAND CRUISER lettering remind you’re sitting inside something rugged, but at the same time, this Toyota doesn’t attract too much attention to itself inside.

Fancy finishing touches like brushed aluminum and gloss black plastics are kept at a minimum in an attempt to preserve the Land Cruiser’s rugged and straight forward approach. I quite like that.


2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Full Dashboard

General comfort and passenger room in this SUV are more than ample, even if you’re tall. Front seats offer great support and comfort when offroading, and the tall roof yields a generous amount of headroom. The square body also allows for great visibility all around.

It’s the same story in the second row, where even the tallest of passengers can find comfort. The Land Cruiser is spacious inside, with generous head and legroom, no matter where you’re sitting. Sadly, North American examples will not get the third row of seats due to the hybrid system’s battery taking up much of the available floor space back there. I see this as a missed opportunity considering how this vehicle is marketed and what it’s competing against (more on that later).


Interior Dimensions

Front

Rear

Headroom

40.1 in.

39.4 in.

Shoulder Room

58.8 in.

59.2 in.

Hip Room

55.4 in.

57.0 in.

Legroom

43.0 in.

36.7 in.

Technology And Ease Of Use

Just like the cabin’s general layout, Toyota doesn’t overload your senses with technology, but rather gives you what you need and nothing more. The base 1958 model makes do with a 7-inch digital gauge display, while the rest of the Land Cruiser lineup gets a larger and more attractive 12.3-inch layout. The same applies for the infotainment system; 8-inches for the 1958, and 12.3 inches for everything else.


In both cases, wireless Android Auto (in my case) connected fast. What’s interesting about Toyota’s latest infotainment systems is that they’re mostly Android Auto and Apple CarPlay dependent, meaning that they’re considerably more interesting to operate and to look at when connected to those apps. The base layout is mostly there for general vehicle configuration. Heck, it doesn’t even have a home screen, but it does operate with fluidity and without lag.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Center Stack


More equipped Land Cruiser models get additional off-road technology like Toyota’s Crawl Control system and Multi-Terrain Monitor, essentially a series of cameras to see around the truck. It all operates by the single press of a button, or in Crawl Control’s case, by turning the Drive Select knob for increased speed. Generally speaking, everything is easy to grasp and to understand.

Cargo And Storage Space

The good news related to the fact our Land Cruiser doesn’t get the third row of seats is that it offers more out-of-the-box cargo space. And because this is a fairly sized midsize SUV, you do get quite a lot of that.

Now, while Toyota still hasn’t announced total cargo space (with the rear seat folded flat) figures, minimum cargo space outranks its main competitor, the Land Rover Devender 110 (27.1 cu-ft). As a matter of fact, the Land Cruiser offers even more cargo space than when you lower the third row in the longer Defender 130 (35.8 cu-ft). See details below.


Minimum Cargo Capacity (Rear Seat In Place)

37.5 cu-ft

How The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Compares To Its Competition

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Square Headlights

Since the Land Cruiser is first and foremost an off-road dedicated SUV, it faces a full plethora of competing models. In its crosshairs, we could include the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Bronco, its own corporate cousin, the upcoming 2025 Toyota 4Runner, the Land Rover Defender and, to some extent, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

But since it’s only available as a five-door and can’t remove its roof or doors, as well as being in a similar price bracket, I’d pit the Land Cruiser directly against a Land Rover Defender 110.


2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Versus 2024 Land Rover Defender 110

Land Rover Defender 110
Land Rover

Yes, it’s true that the Land Rover leans more towards the luxury side, but considering that the base MSRP for a 110 kicks off at $60,600, or about $2,000 less than an entry level Land Cruiser without options, it makes sense to put them face to face.

We’ve already established that the Defender 110 offers less cargo space than its main Japanese rival. It’s also not engineered the same way. While the Land Cruiser is a true body-on-frame SUV, the Defender makes do with a unibody setup. Both trucks come standard with two-speed four-wheel drive systems and lockable differentials.


Land Rover Defender Exterior Hero Shot -1
Lyndon Conrad Bell – Photo

In terms of the drivetrain, the Land Cruiser does come with a mild hybrid system, but it’s not a true hybrid setup like what you’ll get from a Land Cruiser. The Defender, however, offers more engine options. At the bottom of the lineup, there’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 296 horsepower. A 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline six-cylinder makes 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, 59 less than the Land Cruiser’s four-cylinder hybrid engine.

Grey Land Rover Defender 110
Land Rover


The Defender can also be fitted with a 518-horsepower supercharged V8, but it’s way above the Land Cruiser’s price bracket. The Defender, however, can tow more; 8,000 pounds versus 6,000 pounds for the Land Cruiser. It can also be fitted with a third row in its 130 configuration. That all being said, while a $61,950 Toyota Land Cruiser comes out of the box rather well-equipped, you’ll need to add several thousand dollars in options for similar equipment with a Defender. Just opting for the inline six-cylinder option will add $7,300 to the final price.

Related
Land Rover’s 2024 Defender X-Dynamic SE 110 P400 Is A Brute in a Savile Row Suit

The 2024 Land Rover Defender X-Dynamic SE 110 P400 deftly blends ruggedness and sophistication.

Already Selling Itself

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Rear Three Quarter


Rare are vehicles that generate so much aura and want, but the Land Cruiser is one such product. Toyota is basically capitalizing on the nameplate’s reputation, as well as the Land Cruiser’s well-known reliability and off-road capability. It’s one of those vehicles that you know you can’t go wrong with, which is why it’s guaranteed to be a sales success the moment it hits showrooms.

But we are talking about a whole new-generation Land Cruiser that dares to try something new through turbocharging and electrification. We still don’t know how reliable this will all be, but the Toyota badge alone could be enough to convince consumers to sign for one anyway.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Driving Front-2


As for me, I’ll need to spend more time on the road with a press unit to properly evaluate it during the hard daily grind. I want to know how this drivetrain performs in real-life situations, how its fuel economy fairs and how this off-road brute handles on pavement. Because let’s face it, although the Land Cruiser can hold its own on a rough piece of trail, it’ll mostly spend the rest of its life out there in the urban jungle.

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