2024 Toyota Land Cruiser SUV Is a Shrewd, Risky Move Down Market

2024 toyota land cruiser in front of rock formation
‘24 Toyota Land Cruiser Is Risky Move Down Market Toyota
  • The 2024 Land Cruiser is in the spotlight after a three-year hiatus and having been fully redesigned for the US market for the first time since 2008.

  • The new Land Cruiser arrives in showrooms this spring, and it’s possible the look and feel of the ho-hum interior are less important than this SUV’s off-road chops, which certainly are impressive.

  • Starting at $57,345 in 1958 trim with destination charges, the new Land Cruiser uses a standard 326-hp i-Force Max hybrid powertrain driven by a capable 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

There was a time in the 1960s when the term “SUV” was new and fresh, applied to rugged body-on-frame off-roaders like Jeeps, the Ford Bronco, and the original Land Rover and Chevy K5 Blazer—adventure vehicles for climbing rocks and crossing streams.


Today the “sport/utility vehicle” name has been diluted to encompass all manner of high-riding car-based family haulers that fill suburban parking lots and certainly lean toward the utility side of the equation, with few ambitions for dusty, sweaty, trail adventuring.

It's good to see certain brands still making and marketing actual SUVs with chassis rigid enough to creep through treacherous terrain with one wheel well off the ground, maybe two. And it’s not just Detroit brands—particularly Jeep—delivering the necessary sheetmetal, rock rails and skidplates for enthusiasts.

Toyota’s been selling the Land Cruiser in North America since 1958, and there’s an all-new 4Runner on the way. Can a re-engineered FJ Cruiser be far behind? For now, it’s the 2024 Land Cruiser in the spotlight after a three-year hiatus and having been fully redesigned for the US market for the first time since 2008.

The previous-generation J-200 Land Cruiser was a low-volume offering, never cracking 4000 units annually in the US, partly due to the restrictive pricetag starting above $85,000.

But Toyota bosses have hatched a strategy that could crank up Land Cruiser sales: They cut the base price $30,000. Is there an easier way to move the metal?

2024 toyota land cruiser
2024 Land Cruiser identified by its rectangular headlamps.Toyota

This approach carries a certain level of risk. That cost has to come from somewhere, and it appears the interior was a prime target. The previous Land Cruiser was luxurious on the inside, offering natural wood accents, brushed aluminum, and supple leather.

A few days in 2024 Land Cruisers driven on an undulating off-road trail at Vogt Ranch near San Diego reveals the base model in 1958 trim with a sea of hard, black plastic, industrial-grade dark gray fabric seats, few stylistic flourishes, and brushed metallic accents so rare they can be counted on one hand.

The product planners must believe there are a lot of people who would buy a Land Cruiser if only it were less expensive and won’t mind being tossed about on the trail with elbows hitting hard plastic door trim.

Should Land Cruiser Interior Lean toward Luxury?

If off-roaders like their Jeep Wranglers and Broncos to be bare-bones (each base priced below $40,000), perhaps the Land Cruiser can tempt some of those shoppers at the upper end, starting at $57,345 in 1958 trim with destination charges.

So you might be thinking, if the 1958 version is decidedly down market, the uplevel must be pretty nice, right? But no, the upscale Land Cruiser grade (mystifyingly sold as “Land Cruiser” or “core Land Cruiser”) barely shows any design imagination on the inside, except for the perforated leather, more padding on the door trim, and a few available brushed bronze accents on the steering wheel, center console, and instrument panel.

Pricing for this core Land Cruiser starts at $63,345 with destination, and there is a handsome java brown leather package that adds some visual spice.

But if that $30,000 price cut is a lower priority for you than a more luxurious experience, then consider the Land Cruiser First Edition, starting at $76,345 and available only to the first 5000 hand raisers.

Once those First Edition models sell out, Toyota expects the sales volume to be skewed 80% to core Land Cruiser and the remaining 20% picking the 1958 model. The quickest way to tell the difference between the two main trims is the rectangular headlamps on the core Land Cruiser and the circular front lights on the 1958 and First Edition models.

Here’s another oddity about the new Land Cruiser: The marketing team sees the spartan 1958 model as the one for serious off-roaders, and yet that model does not offer the Multi-Terrain Monitor. This front-facing camera (available on core Land Cruiser) would have come in handy during our ascent on several steep trails at the off-road park, able to see only sky over the hoodline.

The new Land Cruiser arrives in showrooms this spring, and it’s possible the look and feel of the interior are less important than this SUV’s off-road chops, which certainly are impressive, with standard full-time four-wheel drive and both center- and rear locking differentials that prove more than capable in the untamed wilderness.

The electronic locking rear differential can split the power 50/50 to the rear wheels for better traction, and also new is the available (on core Land Cruiser) front stabilizer bar disconnect mechanism, which, at the touch of a button, allows a lot more articulation off-road to keep the wheels on the ground.

The Land Cruiser uses an independent double wishbone front suspension with a stabilizer bar and twin-tube shock absorbers, while the multi-link rear uses coil springs and outboard-mounted twin-tube dampers.

Four-Cylinder Hybrid Is More than Capable

The suspension gives the Land Cruiser driver plenty of confidence out on the trail, and this SUV with 8.7 inches of ground clearance makes for an amenable highway drive—especially with all-season tires—although head sway is quite noticeable from the high center of gravity and tall, flat roof.

While V8 power has been a Land Cruiser staple since 1998, Toyota downsizes, skipping past a six-cylinder and committing entirely to what Toyota knows really well: a four-cylinder hybrid.

One might think a two-row 4WD off-roader weighing 5038 pounds would struggle with a cylinder count cut in half.

But this i-Force Max powertrain (standard across the entire Land Cruiser lineup) relying on a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder does it all well—on road, on challenging trails, or creeping through the neighborhood—and the exhaust note has been skillfully tuned to convince passengers that a stout V6 is underhood.

The hybrid plays an important supporting roll, with an electric motor packaged in the bell housing of the eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver a combined 326 hp (at 6000 rpm) and 465 lb-ft of torque at (1700 rpm). Those numbers are competitive with V8 truck engines from not long ago.

The EPA rated fuel economy is pretty good, too, at 22/25 mpg in city/highway driving. Standard 18-inch rims appear on all three Land Cruiser trims, but 20-inch gray alloy rims (with 265/60R20 tires) is optional on the core Land Cruiser.

2024 toyota land cruiser
2024 Land Cruiser with Java leather.Toyota

Despite our grievances about the interior aesthetics, Toyota got the functionality right, with a series of mission-critical hard buttons in the center console, easily reached by the driver to toggle between four-wheel high or four-wheel low drivetrain settings and locking or unlocking both differentials. Drive modes are easily dialed up with a chunky knob in front of the shifter, right near a button to activate the downhill creep without feet on the pedals.

And hard buttons for climate controls are ergonomically placed just below the 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen that includes a three-month Sirius XM satellite radio trial.

Toyota kept it pretty simple in offering the Land Cruiser with one drivetrain configuration and lots of standard equipment across all three trims, including the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 driver-assistance suite (lane-departure alert, full-range dynamic cruise control, lane-tracing assist, and pre-collision with pedestrian detection).

Options are plentiful, too with power heated and ventilated front seats, 14-speaker JBL premium audio system, head-up display, center console cool box, and more. Some of those options are included in the $4600 Land Cruiser Premium Package, including the perforated leather.

The Land Cruiser, assembled at Toyota’s Tahara and Hino plants in Japan, springs from the automaker’s TNGA-F global truck platform that is shared with the Tundra, Sequoia, Tacoma, and upcoming 4Runner.

Toyota plans to sell 30,000 Land Cruisers in its first full year in the market. That’s a boost in sales by a factor of 10 over the previous model.

Surely there’s pent-up demand for the Land Cruiser, after a few years away from the US market, so we’re about to find out how much.

Do you agree with Toyota’s strategy to cut the Land Cruiser price significantly and emphasize off-road capability instead of interior style? Please comment below.