Trucks & SUVs

The Toyota Land Cruiser’s Longevity Is the Only Good Thing About It

As a full-size SUV, the Toyota Land Cruiser has a reputation for striking a nice balance between off-road adventure and comfortable luxury. The latest Land Cruiser is heavy and solid. It comes with a wealth of standard features and conveniences. 

The Land Cruiser has been around a while. How did it get its start? What are the latest cruisers like? What’s the limited Heritage Edition?

The history of the Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land Cruiser’s story goes all the way back to 1951. In June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The U.S. backed pro-Western South Korea against its Soviet-supported invaders. There was a clear need for military vehicles. Since the U.S. still happened to occupy Japan, they encouraged the nation to develop a vehicle to meet this need for a locally-sourced truck.

At the top of 1951, Toyota presented a prototype military truck. The styling of the Toyota Jeep BJ drew inspiration from the military-grade Jeeps used by U.S. Forces in Japan. It also took inspiration from Toyota’s B-type 3.4-liter V6 engine. The prototype wasn’t picked up by Japan’s National Police Reserve Forces, but it was commissioned by Japan’s National Police Agency and used for a patrol car.

Because of copyright issues with the name “Jeep,” Toyota renamed the vehicle the Land Cruiser, and it went on sale in mid-1954. It wouldn’t be sold to the U.S. market until 1958.

Since that time, the Land Cruiser has been produced in cab chassis, convertible, hardtop, and station wagon body styles. The vehicle’s longevity and reliability have been big draws for it, and Toyota tests it rigorously each generation. 

The 2020 models

The Toyota Land Cruiser has been around more than half a century. Over those decades, the Land Cruiser has grown and adapted. It’s always been a capable off-roading vehicle. Over the years, it became more upscale and convenient. 

The latest Land Cruiser models, however, leave a lot to be desired. According to the folks at Motor1.com, there are other full-size SUVs you may want to consider first. Why?

There are other SUVs on the market that can go where Land Cruiser can go but do it better. They aren’t judging anyone for getting a new Land Cruiser because they admire the exclusivity. They understand some like the impression that if you own a Land Cruiser, you’re a connoisseur. 

But the fuel economy is terrible. The interior doesn’t have the signature branding and flair of its competition. There’s also not as much cargo space in the three-row models as some of its peers offer.

You don’t see a lot of Toyota Land Cruisers these days. Mercedes-Benz sold 43,000 GLS-Class SUVs from 2018 to 2019 while Toyota sold 46,000 Land Cruisers since 2005 according to the tracker at Good Car Bad Car.

The Heritage Edition

For 2020, Toyota released the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, and only 1,200 units were produced for the U.S.

The team at Motor1.com like the limited-edition Land Cruiser for its size and power. The V8 engine is robust without being showy, and that seems to be the theme of the edition. The exterior is boxy and solid. The interior offers a wide range of controls to manage its off-road systems. It’s a reminder that the Land Cruiser can get the kids to ballet class and basketball practice. It can also handle just about any terrain you throw at it.

The styling cues for the Heritage Edition manage to boost its appearance while still being conservative. The badging at the D-pillar is visually appealing as are the BBS gold wheels. The Yakima roof rack is a nod to models from the past. While it creates a lot of noise, it does pretty much announce that the vehicle is ready for any outdoor adventure. Smaller touches like black grille accents and darker chrome make the limited-edition vehicles feel even more exclusive.

The interior is upscale with leather on the dash and center stack. There is nice contrast stitching too for a more high-end feel. The cabin reminds you that the Land Cruiser’s sibling is the ritzy Lexus LX 570.

What did the team not like? They didn’t like the Dunlop Grandtrek AT23 tires, saying they looked out of place on a vehicle with such off-roading prowess. The team didn’t understand why the tires weren’t more aggressive and appropriate for such a vehicle. 

Outside of that, the only other styling complaint they had was the grille. They would prefer the grille be replaced with Toyota lettering on a blacked-out mesh like the brand’s other off-road vehicles have. They pointed out the original Land Cruiser FJ40s had that styling element, and it is a heritage edition.

The Motor1.com team also took issue with the price. The price tag is over $85,000 for the regular Land Cruiser and the Heritage Edition adds $2,330 on top of that. And that’s for some celebratory styling touches. Some who are Land Cruiser enthusiasts might not mind the hefty price. Others may want to check out the Mercedes GLS-Class or the Range Rover in the same segment.