Land Cruiser returns to U.S. leaner, hybrid four-cylinder only
For lovers of stout off-road platforms with nameplates that have decades of brand equity behind them: Rejoice! The Toyota Land Cruiser will return to the United States for the 2024 model year. After weeks of anticipation, some timely teaser photos, and a full rundown of its more luxurious sibling, the new Lexus GX, we finally lay eyes on the 2024 Land Cruiser.
So, what exactly are we working with under that geometric sheet metal? Surprisingly, quite a lot of departures from conventional Land Cruiser thinking. Let’s dive into the details.
The new Land Cruiser will ride on the TNGA-F global truck architecture—bones it will share with everything from the Lexus LX 600, to the new Toyota Tundra, to the massive Sequoia SUV, to the hotly anticipated 2024 Tacoma midsize pickup. The ladder-style, body-on-frame design will offer more rigidity than the outgoing 200 Series Land Cruiser, thanks to the tactful use of high-strength steel.
Remarkably, the new Land Cruiser is actually smaller than the outgoing 200 Series model—4.4 inches narrower and 1.2 inches shorter tip to tail, to be exact. That’s in part because the new machine is based on a model called the Land Cruiser Prado, which is sold elsewhere in the world as a smaller, more budget-friendly version of the Land Cruiser. Put another way: The new Land Cruiser is the Toyota version of the Lexus GX; in the past, the Land Cruiser was always the toned-down twin to the larger Lexus LX. (To make things more confusing, there is still a full-size, Lexus LX-esque Land Cruiser sold in other countries as the 300 Series. Clear as mud?)
The shift in approach continues under the hood. Historically, Land Cruisers have always housed Toyota’s burliest and most workhorse-like engines—often the largest in the automaker’s arsenal. Were that continuing here, the U.S.-bound Land Cruiser would boast a version of Toyota’s 3.4-liter, twin-turbo V-6 engine and the accompanying hybridization components that we find on the new Tundra.
Instead, the new Cruiser will employ the 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found underneath the new Tacoma. All Land Cruisers will get the i-Force MAX hybrid system, which will pair said engine with a 1.87-kWh NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery and a 48-hp electric motor integrated into the 8-speed automatic transmission. Total system output is 326 hp and a hefty 465 lb-ft of torque, and all Land Cruisers will be able to tow up to 6000 lbs.
A full-time 4×4 system with a locking center differential and an electronically-controlled, two-speed transfer case with high/low range are standard across the lineup. Front suspension will be a newly-developed double-wishbone independent setup, while out back, you’ll find a multilink solid axle with coil springs. An electronically-locking rear differential is also standard. Underbody armor and rock rails will be offered as well.
Opt for the higher two of the three grades available (we’ll break those down in a moment) and you can also get a front stabilizer bar disconnect that increases the front end’s flexibility with the push of a button. Properly equipped, the new Land Cruiser boasts approach, departure, and breakover angles of 31 degrees, 22 degrees, and 25 degrees, respectively.
About those grades: Toyota will offer just three for the new model. The lowest grade will be named Land Cruiser 1958, then simply Land Cruiser, and finally Land Cruiser First Edition, in ascending levels of cost and content. On the Land Cruiser 1958 and the First Edition, you’ll get round LED headlamps, while on the mid-tier grade, those headlamps will be swapped out for rectangular LED units.
The decidedly boxy, retro styling might take some getting used to, but we’re open to being convinced. There’s a bit of Land Rover Defender in there, which is probably not by accident. Expect those two longstanding nameplates to battle for large swathes of the same buyers, the Landie trading on nameplate prestige while the ‘Yota points to its record of dead-nuts reliability—this particular nameplate even more than most.
Toyota shortened the front overhang to increase trail worthiness, and the pushed-back A-pillar not only looks cool, it also helps with outward visibility. The silhouette looks slender and tall like the 80 Series Land Cruisers of the 1990s. Dimensionally, this new unit is just 1.5 inches wider than those bygone (and deeply collectible) machines.
The cabin seems to strike a commendable balance between functionality and comfort. Land Cruiser 1958 models will suffice with an 8-inch center screen for infotainment and phone mirroring duties, while the upper two trims will score a 12.3-inch screen. Real switch gear (hallelujah) will adjust climate control functions and seat heating and ventilation.
How much will all this retro dirt-chasing goodness cost? Impressively, Toyota says that the 2024 Land Cruiser will start in the “mid-$50,000 range.” This was, according to Toyota, a big part of why the new Land Cruiser feels like a “downsized” offering. Expect those First Edition Cruisers (just 5000 are coming to the North American market) to command hefty premiums over that starting price, made worse by dealers who will inevitably slap “market adjustments” on them.
Ah well. A marked-up Land Cruiser is better than no Land Cruiser at all, or however that saying goes. We can’t wait to try one out.