by Karl Furlong
Nobody complained when Toyota announced that the legendary Land Cruiser would return to America, especially after the new J300 model began arriving in other markets. The Land Cruiser is back on local soil after three years, but it differs from the previous J200 and the foreign J300. Now positioned as a smaller rugged off-roader with a far lower starting price, America's new Land Cruiser is a much closer match for the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco. It's exclusively available with a 326-horsepower four-cylinder hybrid engine, features retro styling cues, and rides on a new suspension with a multi-link setup and coil springs at the back. The body-on-frame TNGA-F platform is the same one that underpins the J300 Land Cruiser sold elsewhere, the new Sequoia, and the new Lexus GX. It's a recipe that also has much in common with the older FJ Cruiser, so is the downscaled Land Cruiser the adventurers' SUV Toyota fans have been waiting for?
See trim levels and configurations:
2.4L Turbo Inline-4 Hybrid
The release date for the Toyota Land Cruiser in the USA is set for the spring of next year. It will be coming out three years after the last model was sold here.
Although a specific starting price for the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser wasn't shared, the manufacturer did confirm that it will start in the mid-$50,000 range. This fact alone underlines how far removed the new Land Cruiser is from the previous J200 model sold here, as that began at around $85,000 when it was last on sale.
The mid-$50,000 MSRP will apply to the base Land Cruiser 1958 trim which is followed by the mid-range Land Cruiser and the top Land Cruiser First Edition. The First Edition will be limited to 5,000 units for North America, and its many extra features and exclusivity will probably push the price to over $70,000.
At a cost of around $55,000, rivals will include fairly high-spec versions of the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler: the Bronco Wildtrak and Wrangler Willys 4xe. Both are serious off-roaders, with the Wildtrack having a more powerful V6 and 35-inch tires, while the Willys 4xe is also a hybrid. Unlike the Toyota, the Wrangler can also be had with a V6.
Narrower and shorter than the previous 200 Series to allow for even better off-roading, the exterior design of the new Toyota Land Cruiser SUV was based on four philosophies, namely authentic, reliable, timeless, and professional. The blocky and retro design recalls past models, including the 1958 trim's rounded LED headlights and TOYOTA heritage grille. By contrast, the mid-range Land Cruiser trim has rectangular headlights that recall the FJ62.
Toyota has pushed the A-pillar back for superior outward visibility, while the decreased front overhang improves the approach angle. All models ride on 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires, but it's unclear whether Toyota will offer the chunky rubber of the Wrangler and Bronco for heavy-duty off-road work. On the mid-range trim, 20-inch wheels are available optionally.
LED fog lamps on the base model give way to RIGID color-selectable LED fog lamps on the mid-range trim, while the limited First Edition comes with a roof rack, roof rails, a front skid plate, a back door guard, and mudflaps. Front tow/recovery hooks are standard to aid off-road recovery, and rock rails will be available.
The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser has seven main colors: Ice Cap, Wind Chill Pearl, Underground, Black, Meteor Shower, Trail Dust, and Heritage Blue. Two-tone colors will further differentiate the First Edition, and here customers can opt for a main body in Trail Dust or Heritage Blue with a Grayscape roof.
The outgoing 200 Series Land Cruiser was a full-size beast of an SUV, so it's refreshing that the dimensions of the new Toyota Land Cruiser have decreased. Compared to the 200, the new one is 4.4 inches narrower and 1.2 inches shorter.
The length is now 193.7 inches, set over a 112.2-inch wheelbase. With the mirrors included, the width is 84.2 inches, while the height is 73.2 inches. Running ground clearance is 8.3 inches, ground clearance is up to 8.7 inches, and the base model has approach/breakover/departure angles of 30/25/22 degrees, respectively. The top two trims are the same in all metrics besides a slightly better approach angle of 31 degrees. While these figures are good, the most capable Broncos and Wranglers can deal with larger, more challenging obstacles; they have significantly better ground clearance.
Although no curb weight figure was provided, we don't expect the 2024 Land Cruiser to be as heavy as the previous model's portly 5,815 pounds since it is a smaller vehicle and has ditched the V8. It will probably be in the lower 5,000-lbs range.
There have been big changes under the hood of the latest Land Cruiser. In place of the old-school V8, the new Toyota Land Cruiser engine is a far more efficient 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid known as the i-Force Max. In this application, the engine delivers 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque - even more torque than the older 5.7L V8 could manage. A 48-hp electric motor is integrated into the new Land Cruiser's transmission.
Every Land Cruiser has a standard full-time four-wheel-drive system, including a center locking differential plus an electronic two-speed transfer case with high and low range. An eight-speed automatic transmission is common to all trims, too. Although 0-60 times aren't critical in a vehicle such as this, we expect the benchmark sprint to be accomplished in around 6.5 seconds or so.
Far more important is how the Land Cruiser has been set up to boost its off-road credentials, not to mention the weight of expectation that comes with the nameplate. Every model has an automatic limited-slip differential and an electronic locking rear differential, the latter being able to split power 50/50 between the rear wheels to help with traction across rougher terrain.
To boost flex, there is a new front stabilizer bar disconnect equipped to the top two trims. The mid-range trim gets Multi-Terrain Select as standard, which is functional in both 4WD-High and 4WD-Low. It has settings for mud, dirt, and sand to control wheel spin. Much like the Bronco's Trail Control feature, the Land Cruiser comes with standard CRAWL Control. This is essentially an off-road cruise control that maintains one of five selectable speeds in off-road environments so that the driver can focus purely on obstacles and not speed management.
Downhill Assist Control is standard, while a Multi-Terrain Monitor is available to show upcoming obstacles on the center screen - it'll be equipped as standard on the top two trims.
Although it doesn't have some of the off-road toys of the Wrangler and Bronco, the new Land Cruiser sounds like a formidable dirt-road SUV, and we look forward to pushing its limits when it arrives. However, the Toyota does have a better towing capacity of 6,000 pounds relative to these rivals.
Gas mileage figures for the Toyota Land Cruiser haven't been revealed yet, but it will easily improve on the previous V8 model's dire 13/17/14 mpg city/highway/combined. Considering that a detuned version of the Hybrid Max powertrain in the latest Grand Highlander returns up to 27 mpg combined, we expect the new Land Cruiser to get around 23 mpg combined.
Unlike the Wrangler 4xe, the new Land Cruiser isn't a plug-in hybrid as it only has a small 1.87-kWh battery. While it won't be able to drive on electric power alone, Land Cruiser owners won't have to worry about charging the battery.
The interior of the Toyota Land Cruiser includes the brand's latest connectivity features and a fresh design. Still, it's not as luxurious or generously specified inside as the outgoing, much more expensive J200 model. That is intentional, as the new Land Cruiser is more of a rugged off-roader, so a plush cabin environment has taken a back seat to ease of use and practicality.
On the base 1958 trim, there is an eight-inch touchscreen interface with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and over-the-air updates, while an available Digital Key makes multiple tasks simpler, such as accessing the tailgate or starting the car. A six-speaker sound system and a heated steering wheel are standard, but the seats in the base Toyota Land Cruiser are no-frills manually-adjustable items with fabric upholstery. Seat heating is standard in front, however.
The mid-range Land Cruiser adds a 12.3-inch touchscreen interface, the Multi-Terrain Monitor, ten speakers for the sound system, and SofTex upholstery with ventilated seats with power adjustment. We assume that the ventilation and power adjustment only applies to the front seats. For the First Edition, genuine leather upholstery replaces the SofTex. A palm rest for using the touchscreen and side knee pads help with driving on rough trails while being jostled about. Black or Java color schemes are available, while the First Edition has special logos embossed on the door panels.
Via the options list, customers can equip a 14-speaker JBL sound system, a head-up display, a digital rearview mirror, and a moonroof. Wireless charging and USB-C ports are equipped in front, with more of these ports available for the second row. All models have a Smart Key System with push-button start.
Every Land Cruiser trim enjoys the comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite. It includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, road sign assist, lane tracing assist, and automatic high beams. Many of these functions have been enhanced; for example, the radar cruise control can detect more than one preceding vehicle and has four distance settings instead of three. Outside this suite, the Land Cruiser also comes with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
As a dedicated five-seater vehicle with two rows, the cargo space in the Toyota Land Cruiser should be spacious, but we don't have solid specs to go on just yet.
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