2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Review: Readjust Your Expectations

toyota land cruiser 2024 01 exterior front angle scaled jpg 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry
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Conner Golden joined Cars.com in 2023 as an experienced writer and editor with almost a decade of content creation and management in the automotive and tech industries. He lives in the Los Angeles area. Email Conner Golden

The verdict: Though it doesn’t possess the same hewn-from-granite character as its predecessor, the all-new 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser will still appeal to a wide range of brand enthusiasts, especially with its significantly lower price point.

Versus the competition: Surprisingly, the new Land Cruiser’s biggest competition is itself, with similar pricing to the very similar 2024 Lexus GX 550 and forthcoming 2025 4Runner. Elsewhere, the Land Cruiser offers a distinct alternative to the popular Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUVs.

Have an overlanding enthusiast in your life? Expect their first interaction with the all-new 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser to trigger a crisis of faith.

To understand this new Land Cruiser and why folks are either over the moon or nearly inconsolable, you’ll need to scarf down some historical context. Not since the U.S. market’s initial separation of the “heavy-duty” and “station-wagon” Land Cruiser bloodlines in 1967 with the introduction of the FJ55 have we seen such a shift in ethos for Toyota’s most premium SUV. With the U.S. market’s loss of the venerable FJ40 in 1983, the Japanese automaker decided yank buyers primarily had a taste for the upmarket station-wagon versions and left us to enjoy this line of Cruisers.

Related: 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Returns With Retro Styling, Lower Price Tag

Ye Olde Land Cruisers

We loved ‘em, even if the more die-hard fans pined for the agrarian heavy-duty 70 Series and holistically scaled-down Land Cruiser Prado offered in most markets outside of the States.

But, as the leather-lined, wood-trimmed Land Cruisers of the late ‘90s endured well into the 21st century, so did the hefty price tag that, in its pre-pandemic twilight years, nearly saw price parity with the Lexus LX 570. “Just” $6,000 separated the Land Cruiser from the better-equipped, better-positioned Lexus that was, in no uncertain terms, an upfitted Land Cruiser with some primo Lexus bodywork, and if you could do without a third-row seat, the LX was only around $1,000 more. For product planners, that was no good, and Toyota sunset the previous-generation Land Cruiser following the 2021 model year.

All was not lost. In 2023, Toyota revealed the next-gen Land Cruiser at a substantially lower price point, but it also marked a cosmic shift in what Land Cruiser enthusiasts could expect from their factory-fresh SUV.

Now, That New-New

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Whew! Thanks for sticking with me there. So, let’s talk about the 2024 Land Cruiser from a longtime Land Cruiser super fan’s hands-on perspective. It is shorter, but my eyes either underestimated the size of the new SUV or overestimated the old feller. Either way, the new Land Cruiser only cuts 1.1 inches from the length and not a scrap from the 77.9-inch width or 112.2-inch wheelbase. It’s also 2.1-inches taller than its predecessor.

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Perhaps it’s the 2024 LC’s new visual language that tripped me up. The soft, curvy and slightly amorphous lines of the prior Land Cruiser have been replaced with a blocky, retro-inspired aesthetic, with more than a hint of FJ40 and FJ60 in its profile. We’re not here to dictate if you like the looks or not, but to my eyes, all configurations “work” save the base 1958 trim and First Edition, whose classic round eyes do it a stylistic disservice. The blocky proportions and vintage color palette are a welcome throwback to the O.G. LCs, and I believe it’s going to be quite popular with the same crowd who hoards Defenders, Grenadiers, Broncos and G-Wagens. My pick? The standard mid-grade Land Cruiser trim in Trail Dust (tan) with a gray roof.

Again, carryover LC buyers won’t take umbrage with the new exterior dimensions, as deceptive as they may be, nor will they moan about the continued use of body-on-frame construction, full-time four-wheel drive, locking center and rear differentials, crawl control, terrain modes and the available front stabilizer bar disconnect.

Half the Cylinders, More the Torque

The loudest gripes at its debut centered around the powertrain, with Toyota’s new i-Force Max hybrid system with a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder supplanting the tried-and-true naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V-8. The under-stressed, giga-reliable eight-cylinder engine was a hallmark of the modern Land Cruiser and all its Americanized derivatives, and it earned a legion of devotees thanks to its stunning longevity and smooth character. It also gulped gas like a sinkhole, but that was always accepted as an inevitability rather than something that should be addressed.

The new turbo-four hybrid is part of Toyota’s range-wide powertrain downsizing for its body-on-frame offerings; where once was a V-8 is now a twin-turbo V-6 (Tundra, Sequoia), and the naturally aspirated V-6s previously in the Tacoma and 4Runner are now a selection of i-Force turbo-fours. Keen readers likely noticed the new Land Cruiser is an exception to this formula, a product-planning decision likely made to further differentiate the LC from the more expensive 2024 Lexus GX. Keep that Lexus at the forefront of your mind — we’re going to talk about it later.

With an electric motor integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission that draws power from a 1.87-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the new LC fords streams and slings mud with 326 horsepower and a thick 465 pounds-feet of torque. This is down 55 hp from the prior V-8 but up an impressive 64 pounds-feet, all of which is available nearly 2,000-rpm earlier in the rev range. Crucially, this extra torqueage has 778 fewer pounds to trug around with the new LC’s 5,037-pound curb weight. Might as well call this the GR Land Cruiser!

Hardly. In practice, the new turbocharged heart feels more truckish and industrial than the old V-8’s leisurely, buttery roil, but the sensation of power, acceleration and response is noticeably improved. The trade-off is a grumble rather than a rumble, and one that intrudes into the cabin a smidge more than expected of a “premium” product. More on that signifier in a bit.

Better Bones

Dynamically, the 2024 Land Cruiser feels closer to its unibody-based crossover cousins than it does to its truck siblings. Most of the tarmac surrounding our testing base camp were typical California canyon roads, allowing me to push the LC in a way that most buyers won’t. The body-on-frame sway and jutter only reveals itself during sharper cornering, with body control well composed in the majority of day-to-day maneuvers.

Ride quality is poised, as well, and though it’s been a few years since my last stint in the bigger, beefier, prior-gen Land Cruiser, I want to say the new SUV is modestly flintier over broken pavement. However, following a back-to-back drive on the same rutted dirt road in a 2024 Tacoma Limited and 2024 Land Cruiser, I can say you’re getting some significant chassis refinement with your extra investment.

All of this seemingly agrarian character is a result of the 2024 Land Cruiser’s wholesale shift in philosophy when compared with the prior SUV. Coming in at around $30,000 less than the last-gen, Toyota cut this margin with a new toolish, less frills package it claims evokes the older, heavy-duty Land Cruiser lineup of yore. The interior wears more plastic, harder surfaces, a strangely stiff headliner, less leather and less of, well, everything that we’re used to enjoying in a Land Cruiser.

Pricing Pain

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This is especially true in the base 1958 edition. Starting at just over $57,000 (all prices include destination), the cheapest 2024 Land Cruiser carries manually adjustable cloth seats and a small 8-inch touchscreen shared with the base RAV4 compact SUV. Mind you, both the front seats and the steering wheel are heated, but every other nicety that would be expected in a $40,000 SUV is locked behind the $63,345 mid-grade Land Cruiser. That trim level adds a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen and synthetic SofTex upholstery and unlocks the option to incorporate the $4,600 Premium Package with a console cool box, JBL sound system, moonroof with a power shade, head-up display, leather-trimmed seats and traffic jam assist.

Aside from the cool box and leather upholstery, I find it off-putting you must spend $67,945 for an options list that doesn’t befit the price and certainly doesn’t match the interior appointments, even if your goal is elevated utilitarianism. This is especially confusing when you start to look at Toyota’s other off-road SUVs. While we’re not privy to the redesigned 2025 4Runner’s pricing quite yet, we know it’s going to undercut the Sequoia, meaning you can likely get a better equipped 4Runner for either the same or less than the upfitted Land Cruiser, considering the much larger $75,000 Sequoia Platinum has a modestly better featureset than the maxed-out LC.

It gets even more confusing when you add the 2024 Lexus GX 550 into the mix. For $69,250, the off-road Overtrail trim provides the same — if not more — raw features as the loaded LC, along with larger 33-inch all-terrain tires, the more powerful twin-turbo 3.4-liter V-6 and better materials across the board. Honestly, having driven both at this point, if you pick up a maxed-out 2024 Land Cruiser, I’m going to assume you skipped the GX Overtrail because you absolutely, positively had to have that “Land Cruiser” badge. Otherwise, what are you doing?

I know this is likely more spreadsheet stuff than you might have expected from a drive, but I just couldn’t shake that wacky pricing. That’s not to say the new SUV doesn’t have its many merits; while I think even overlanders should skip the 1958 grade and stick with their favorite flavor of 4Runner, a mid-grade 2024 Land Cruiser is a compelling, if over-capable, daily SUV for someone who likes the badge, retro style and general ‘tude without some of the admittedly brotastic vibe of the 4Runner.

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Real Off-Road Revelation

It is also ferociously capable off-road. Toyota prepared two distinct courses on which to push the Cruiser and gave us the run of the entire range to sample. All LCs cut through the dirt trails and rocky crawls on non-all-terrain road tires, and you would be genuinely surprised how little traction was an issue. On the low-speed technical course, crawl control was both useful and supremely cool, though some hardcore mud warriors might find this — along with the LC’s impressive available trail cameras — gamifies the experience a bit too much.

Not me. As a city slicker who enjoys semi-annual outings into the badlands, I welcomed any and all electronic assistance, though I did find great satisfaction in ignoring the cameras and sticking my head out the window to see wheel placement on the faster course. This was a curated environment and couldn’t match the madness of Moab, but it was still some genuine wheelin’ on the level of what you’re likely to experience in your average off-highway vehicle park. Overlanders are sure to have a field day upfitting their new LC with all manner of hardware — methinks those plastic-fantastic bumpers will be the first to fall when ARB gets involved.

Hype or Hero?

Still, questions remain. Despite the capability and neat styling, it feels Land Cruiser Lite. Or, it feels like a Prado — which, by golly, it is! The rest of the world has enjoyed decades of the half-caff Cruiser, but both most of the stateside Land Cruiser community and myself must adjust our expectations for what the 2024 Land Cruiser is — and isn’t. For the better part of the SUV’s existence, Toyota has engineered LCs with a 25-year service life; that is, crucial components are designed to last far beyond what can be expected of a standard production vehicle.

Both driving on- and off-road, I’m not sure the new Land Cruiser feels in-line with this ethos. Truthfully, it feels more like an elevated, premium take on Toyota’s old FJ Cruiser, with the new GX 550 Overtrail picking up where the old Land Cruiser left off. And the Lexus LX 600? Without competition from the old Land Cruiser, it nearly doubled its sales in 2023.

Funny how that works.

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