Is an Imported Toyota Land Cruiser a Better Buy?

It’s hard to find an SUV that has a reputation like the Toyota Land Cruiser. It can off-road like the 4Runner, with luxury like a Range Rover—only it’s way more reliable. And it comes with 3 rows of seats, so the whole family can get in on the experience. Unfortunately, new Land Cruisers start at about $85k, and many used models have a lot of miles. However, that’s only if you limit the search to US-market ones. We never got all the versions of the Land Cruiser—but many are now old enough to finally import. But is an imported Toyota Land Cruiser better than one sold in the US?

What imported Toyota Land Cruisers have over US versions

1987 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60
1987 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 | Bring a Trailer

After the 40-Series (aka FJ40) and 50-Series Land Cruisers, the US received the 60-Series. To be sure, it still offered the durability of the 40-Series, only in a more modern and livable package. Gear Patrol reports the 60-Series offered A/C, heating in the rear, power windows, and comfier seats. The face-lifted FJ62 even offered an automatic transmission, though it’s in some ways worse than the previous 5-speed, Four Wheeler reports, especially on the highway.

1990 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 70-Series
1990 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 70-Series | Toyota

Elsewhere, though, Toyota still offered a Land Cruiser that was more about rugged off-roading than creature comforts. This was the 70-Series, an SUV so loved it’s still made in Australia today. To be fair, it wasn’t quite an exercise in Spartan restraint: Japanese Classics reports the 70-Series did eventually offer power windows and A/C.

But the 70-Series was available in more body styles, ranging from a 5-row ‘troop carrier’ to a chassis cab pickup. In addition, the 70-Series offered several diesel engines. And long after the US Land Cruiser went to independent suspension, the 70-Series retained its more hard-core solid axles.

1990 Toyota Land Cruiser 80-Series diesel
1990 Toyota Land Cruiser 80-Series diesel | TopRank Importers

The US did get the 80-Series like the rest of the world, with full-time 4WD, coil springs, and locking differentials. But again, we didn’t get every version.  In the US, we got the final evolution of Toyota’s cast-iron inline-6, according to The FJ Company. But overseas, customers could get diesels, which offered better fuel efficiency and more torque.

But it’s not just in features that imported Land Cruisers have something to offer.

Pricing and mileage

1996 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80
1996 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 | Bring a Trailer

At the time of writing, the lowest mileage 80-Series Land Cruiser on Autotrader had 146,000 miles on the clock. And while it cost $30k, it wasn’t the most expensive Land Cruiser available. Bring a Trailer has also sold quite a few 80-Series Land Cruisers. Although cheaper—the most expensive was just over $20,000—the 1995-1997 recommended models all have at least 150,000 miles on them.

1993 Toyota Land Cruiser VX Limited
1993 Toyota Land Cruiser VX Limited | Duncan Imports

In contrast, at the time of writing, Duncan Imports is offering a 1993 Land Cruiser with 9,524 miles on the odometer for $17,999. That’s not only a substantial savings, it’s a vehicle that’s seen less wear and tear

1994 Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series interior
1994 Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series interior | Japanese Classics

Japanese Classics recently sold a diesel 70-Series with extensive modifications and 135,000 driven miles for $18,995. While not as luxurious as the 80- or 100-Series, the interior also appears to have held up well. Proof that sometimes, the more utilitarian, the better.

Except, not always.

Where do imported Land Cruisers fall short?

1994 Toyota Land Cruiser 80-Series interior
1994 Toyota Land Cruiser 80-Series interior | Japanese Classics

The strengths of the 70-Series imported Land Cruisers is also their weakness. Their solid axles make them more uncomfortable on the road, and they don’t handle as well at highway speeds. And while their diesel engines are desirable to some, they’re also even slower than their gasoline counterparts. In addition, because they were never sold in the US, they weren’t built with the same crash-standards in mind. That means little-to-no airbags.

1995 Toyota Land Cruiser US-market 80-Series interior
1995 Toyota Land Cruiser US-market 80-Series interior | Bring a Trailer

Imported 80-Series Land Cruisers also share the diesel and safety issues. Looking at the center consoles of an overseas 80-Series vs. a US-market one, it’s clear the overseas one lacks a driver’s airbag. And while imported 80-Series may be cheaper, with fewer miles, they’re also right-hand drive.

But, if you can look past and accept these shortcomings, an imported Toyota Land Cruiser offers renowned reliability with some significant savings.

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