The battle for off-road supremacy is a neverending one. But, at the end of the day, it always comes down to taste. Off-roading is almost always a hobby. It is less about what will get you through the rough tract of land; it’s more about how you want to get through. What makes it more complicated these days is that people want comfort and serious off-road chops. It is hard to pull off both, which is why the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser smashed the 2021 Land Rover Defender on Consumer Reports.
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser and 2021 Land Rover Defender are legends
These two trucks come from a long line of iconic 4x4s. Both are beloved and hated by many; such is the price of fame, I reckon. It can be hard to recreate a living legend, and because of that, people are grading the Land Cruiser and Defender either harshly based on their love of the old ones or too graciously for the same reason. But, Consumer Reports keeps it real no matter what they review. It gets the same treatment as anything else.
The Toyota Land Cruiser ran away with it on CR. Although CR had some critiques, the Land Cruiser scored a respectable 74/100. Even still, that score is a bit misleading.
The Land Rover Defender did not do as well. CR gave it an overall score of 45/100. There wasn’t much CR liked about it. It’s rough, clumsy, and has a poor predicted reliability rating. Although the Land Cruiser destroyed the Defender, its price is a major stumbling block, at $85,665. The Land Rover Defender ain’t cheap either, but it is somehow far cheaper than the Land Cruiser with a starting price of $46,100.
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser pros and cons
The LC is big, tough, and built well. CR loved nearly everything about the Land Cruiser driving experience. The ride is smooth and comfortable, which is nearly unheard of for anything that’s good off-road. However, the 2021 Land Cruiser does start at $85,665. It better be comfortable for that kind of money.
Price aside, the LC got glowing reviews. What held it back from a better score was the efficiency of the entire package. It has the same old dinosaur 5.3-liter V8 that Toyota has been using for nearly two decades. The result is something that is far from earth-friendly. It’s also hard on the owner’s wallet with an average of 14 mpg.
The other troublesome aspect of the Land Cruiser is its lack of agility. This is a large, heavy truck that behaves like a large, heavy truck. It did poorly on CR’s emergency handling and emergency braking tests.
The 2021 Land Rover Defender pros and cons
CR didn’t like it very much, but they also hate nearly every Jeep, so let’s see what’s going on. The new Defender is already a dream car for many. People are very excited about the idea of a Defender that is more SUV than tractor. CR is not so convinced that this is that Defender.
Consumer Reports predicts that the Defender will struggle with reliability problems based on previous Land Rovers. The Defender scored a 1 / 5 in this category. That is a killer. It also managed to score worse than the Toyota on the emergency braking and matched on braking handling. Scoring 2 / 5 on both. The Land Cruiser managed a 3 / 5 on braking and 2 / 5 on handling.
Even though the Defender has two smaller engine options, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder, its fuel economy still isn’t great. However, the Defender did score better than the Land Cruiser on this test with a combined 18 mpg. The ride is also decent, but it is stiff and not as quiet compared to the Land Cruiser. The interior is beautiful and far more imaginative than the Toyota’s.
How to pick?
Yes. The Land Cruiser is likely the better overall package, but the price cannot be overstated here again. You could nearly buy two base-model Defenders for one Land Cruiser. I don’t care how good the LC is; two 4x4s are always better than one – that’s just science.