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2024 Toyota Land Cruiser First Look Review: Return To Its Glory Days

Jun 19, 2023Jun 19, 2023

Evolving an automotive icon is never easy. Their lofty heritage often makes it tough on designers to modernize their styling without losing the key elements that made them iconic in the first place. Then there's the added pressure of navigating the constant shifts in corporate direction and consumer preferences, which can lead to declining sales if the wrong direction is taken. That's sort of what happened with the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser.

Long known for its boxy shape, durability, and off-road capability, it was gradually transformed into a high priced, luxurious seven-passenger SUV, losing much of its iconic style and some of its ruggedness along the way. Simply put, the last Land Cruiser to set a tire in America—the 200 Series—was far from the same vehicle everyone fell in love with back in its glory days, and it was eventually dropped from Toyota's lineup.

Now, after being absent from U.S. soil for the past three years, Toyota's standard-bearing SUV and its longest-running nameplate is making a big-time comeback in the form of the all-new 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, a vehicle that's been redesigned to appeal to longtime fans of the vehicle, all while attempting to reach a new audience through its latest features, technology, and lower price.

The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, which will launch in the spring of 2024, will be available in three trims to start: First Edition, 1958, and Land Cruiser. In an uncommon move for the industry, Toyota is offering two distinct front-end looks for the latest version of its iconic off-roader. First Edition and 1958 models get a grille treatment headlined by a rounded headlight setup, while the top trim Land Cruiser model is fitted with horizontal headlights and different trim pieces. We prefer the rounded lights, which are a clear throwback to old-school Land Cruisers.

First Edition will be limited to 5,000 units and will get a unique front skidplate, roof rack, and rock rails as part of the package. The 1958 base model is a simplified version of the First Edition, swapping leather for cloth surfaces and ditching several of the First Edition's standard accessories. The Land Cruiser trim will be easy to spot thanks to its rectangular headlights and body-colored front fascia. It also comes with more standard equipment and technology than the other two trims.

Unlike the 200 Series Land Cruiser, which was the last model available in America (it's still here, sort of, in the U.S. in the form of the Lexus LX), the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is now a two-row, five-passenger vehicle. It has no chrome or Toyota logos (except on the rim's center cap), the Toyota name is spelled out on the front grille and rear tailgate, and steel bumpers were added with off-road durability in mind. Designers pushed back the A-pillars to aid with visibility, and the wheels were pushed outward to make it appear bolder in its overall appearance. The square mirrors fitted to the door remind us of the old-school 70 Series, and its blocky taillights are reminiscent of other previous-generation Land Cruisers. One of its cooler features is the manually opening rear glass panel that allows for an enhanced open-air experience or if you want the flexibility to have longer items stick out past the tailgate.

While the Land Cruiser is a global model, Toyota's North American-based CALTY design studio, located in Orange County, California, worked closely with the team in Japan to establish the 2024 Land Cruiser's overall styling direction.

Under the skin, the 2024 Land Cruiser is a modern interpretation of what we've seen lately from Toyota. The Land Cruiser is the latest global model to move to the automaker's truck-themed, body-on-frame-based TNGA-F platform, which underpins the new-generation Tundra pickup, Sequoia SUV, and Tacoma pickup. As for the Land Cruiser's motivation, it's the latest Toyota model to go hybrid-only, joining the likes of the Venza, Sequoia, and Sienna. It utilizes Toyota's new i-Force Max 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 48-hp electric motor combo that total to make 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque all in, backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. Also available for the new Tacoma, it will be the only Land Cruiser powertrain in the States for now.

All 2024 Land Cruisers will be equipped with an electronically controlled, full-time four-wheel-drive transfer case and an automatic limited-slip differential. A rear locking differential is also standard on all models that splits power 50/50 front/rear when the need arises on the trail.

A control-arm front suspension with twin-tube shocks and a live rear axle with multilink suspension with coil springs should keep things calm in the cabin, while an electric power steering setup should make things more comfortable when you're manning the helm. Toyota says all models get a trailer hitch with a towing capacity of 6,000 pounds, as well as 17-inch disc brakes front and rear.

Although the transfer case and other hardware is standard across all models, the main differences between the 1958 and the Land Cruiser trims lie in the cabin and with the availability of some equipment. Toyota's Multi-Terrain Select, which offers different drive modes including Mud, Dirt, and Sand that help control wheelspin depending on terrain, is standard on the top trim only.

Approach, breakover, and departure angles stand at 31/25/22 degrees for all models except the 1958, which has an approach angle of 30 degrees. Toyota's crawl and downhill assist control features are standard in the Land Cruiser trim, while the Multi-Terrain Monitor can help spot potential obstacles on the trail thanks to the cameras located around the vehicle.

If you want to customize your Land Cruiser to the max, Toyota's Genuine Accessories division will offer more than 100 factory accessories, including off-road recovery gear, rack attachment brackets for storage gear, and more. Speaking of off-road recovery, every Land Cruiser comes with front recovery hooks, but we wish there was one available at the rear, as well.

With its black-fabric-shod, manually adjustable seats, the 1958 model reminds us of the Land Cruisers of yore, but thanks in part to its 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and six-speaker sound system, there's plenty of modern in the cabin, as well. The top-trim Land Cruiser takes things a couple of steps further, adding vegan leather and powered seats with heated and ventilated functions, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, and a 10-speaker sound system. All models benefit from Toyota's new infotainment system, which allows owners to get over-the-air updates without having to visit a dealer.

Thanks in part to its 112.2-inch wheelbase, every Land Cruiser model feels roomy inside, and its cargo area has ample space for weekend getaways or camping adventures. All models come with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard equipment, but higher-end Land Cruiser models are available with a 20-inch option. First Edition and Land Cruiser trims are fitted with a 265/70R18 tire, while the 1958 base trim gets a slightly smaller 245/70R18 size.

After spending time sitting in both models, we preferred the throwback 1958 trim and its old-school, FJ40 vibes. Starting at around $56,000, it's a great value play, and the materials felt quite good despite it being the base trim.

We've been waiting patiently for a new Land Cruiser ever since the 200 Series left our shores, though while it satisfied some customers, the 200 had lost much of the charisma and appeal of its 40 and 70 Series generation predecessors. The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is bringing that charm back in a big way as an effective throwback to a model that captivated customers around the world, but in a fresh, modern package.

However, given the Land Cruiser's new two-row, five-passenger arrangement, it begs the question: "What will happen with the 4Runner?" Toyota says not to worry. The 4Runner is a U.S.-based model that attracts a younger customer base, while the Land Cruiser is a global model that was designed for a more mature audience. Sounds to us like a new body-on-frame version of the 4Runner is in the offing in the not too distant future.

With the right styling, capability, and pricing, the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is poised for a return to its good old days, but there's a difference between on-paper and real-world performance. Thankfully, we'll only have to wait a few months to drive one on U.S. shores to find out.

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