Exclusive Toyota Land Cruiser going strong after seven decades Featured

Posted On Saturday, 19 December 2020 23:57 Written by
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The Toyota Land Cruiser remains an off-road capable 70 years after being created for that very purpose. The Toyota Land Cruiser remains an off-road capable 70 years after being created for that very purpose. Photo courtesy of Toyota.

In today’s automotive world, a vehicle like the Toyota Land Cruiser truly stands out, as it’s among the last of a dying breed, and that breed is high-priced, extra large body-on-frame SUVs.

The Land Cruiser has been around for seven full decades, starting in 1951 as Toyota’s version of a Jeep-style, off-road vehicle. Over the years it has retained that off-road ability while evolving into perhaps the classiest vehicle offered by Toyota.

What’s unique about the Land Cruiser is Toyota finds itself competing against both non-luxury vehicles (Ford Expedition, Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Nissan Armada, and Toyota’s own Sequoia), as well as luxury vehicles such as the Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX, Infiniti QX80 and Cadillac Escalade.

After some time spent behind the wheel of a 2020 Land Cruiser (which is essentially identical to the 2021 version), I’m back with a full report.


At 194.9 inches long and over 5,700 pounds, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a massive beast of a vehicle, still surviving in a time most drivers opt for smaller SUVs and CUVS. This presents an interesting dichotomy: On one hand, it’s truly enjoyable to be riding up so high, towering about the world and seeing everything you need to see so clearly. But at the same time, it’s difficult to maneuver at times, and often a pain to park due to its size.

The exterior design is big and bold, and imposing while still looking classy. You get quality LED headlights, and a luggage carrier on top of the vehicle for your traveling time. But honestly, there’s so much room inside the vehicle, you probably won’t have to use it unless you’re transporting a very large family.

Inside, the Land Cruiser offers plush, high-end materials such as leather-trimmed seats, even though it’s not truly a luxury vehicle (it’s pretty close, though). With a nearly $90K price tag on the Land Cruiser, the similarly-priced Lexus LX offering from Toyota’s luxury-level big brother will certainly present a strong competitor.

Interior highlights include automatic 4-zone climate control with air filter, power 10-way seat with memory for driver, 8-way power seat for passenger, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row outer seats, and heated leather steering wheel.

The vehicle comes in 2-row and 3-row versions, seating 5 and 8 people respectively. You get a ton of storage space in the Land Cruiser, regardless of which one you choose. In the 3-row version, you get 16.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 41.1 cubic feet behind the second row, and 82.8 cubic feet behind the first row. In the two-row version, you get 53.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 82.8 behind the first row.

You can fit just about anything you want to transport with those kinds of numbers, and I also had a very easy time loading in groceries and other materials through the split opening in the rear. Whatever doesn’t fit, consider the roof-mounted cargo rack for additional space.


Just as the Land Cruiser looks like a beast, it drives like one too, in good and bad ways.

On the plus side, you get a 5.7-liter V8 engine offering 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. With that kind of power, you’re eventually going to get moving quite swiftly despite the size of the Land Cruiser.

But it’s also very heavy so it takes time to get moving. Yes, it runs powerfully and very smoothly once you’re going, and even handles well for its size, but don’t expect it to be instantly fast.

Overall, I would say the Land Cruiser offers a comfortable ride for such a big, truck-like vehicle. If you like driving a truck, you’ll like driving the Land Cruiser. You feel like you’re on top of the world and have a great view of the traffic around you.

It also tows up to 8,100 pounds — good if you have a boat or trailer you need to pull.

The Land Cruiser comes with full-time All-Wheel Drive, a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, Multi-Terrain Select, Hill Start Assist Control, and CRAWL control with off-road turn assist. It also sits up very high, with 8.9 inches of ground clearance.

This all leads to a very strong ability in the off-roading department, something it has had since it debuted seven decades ago.


In my time driving the Land Cruiser, I found that voice commands worked very well for radio, phone and navigation, including its ability to find places of interest such as restaurants and direct you where you needed to go.

The infotainment system has a physical design which looks a bit outdated compared to rival full-size SUVs, but it functions very well so I had no major complaints about it. Buttons are clearly labelled and easy to use and understand.

Interior technology highlights include the 9-inch touchscreen and integrated navigation, and a 14-speaker JBL audio system (which sounds crisp even at higher volumes).

Hands-free Bluetooth connection is offered for phone and music, and you get 3 free months of SiriusXM satellite radio. Four-zone automatic front and rear climate control are included.

Safetywise, you are also well-covered by Toyota in the Land Cruiser.

There are 10 airbags (necessary in a vehicle this large), and coming standard is the Toyota Safety Sense P system, including: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert; Automatic High Beams and Trailer Sway Control.

You also get Front and Rear Parking Assist and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. In addition, a Glass Breakage Sensor is offered to protect the vehicle from theft (In the event glass breakage is detected, the security system will be activated immediately and disable the starter).


With a vehicle this large, fuel mileage is not going to be a strong point. Official numbers on the Land Cruiser are 13 city/17 highway/14 combined, and my experience reflected those to be accurate. Rivals are also similarly challenged, but many of them beat the Land Cruiser by several miles per hour.

Though I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone opting for a vehicle pushing $90K is not going to make a final decision based purely on fuel mileage, these numbers do not help the case for the Land Cruiser. 


The 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser I tested was priced just over $89,000; and the base price starts about $85K. With a price like that, huge sales numbers are not expected in the U.S. About 3,500 Land Cruisers were sold in 2019, and 2020 numbers were trending just shy of the 3,000 mark. (Interestingly, about 40,000 Land Cruisers are sold each year in Australia — many to those in construction, mining and farming businesses).

But for those in the U.S. who love the Land Cruiser enough to take the plunge, it’s well worth it. Though I would say that unless you’re a dedicated Toyota loyalist, I also recommend cross-shopping with luxury competition such as the Lexus LX, Lincoln Navigator and Infiniti QX80 before making a decision on the Land Cruiser.


The Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the biggest, boldest and most upscale Toyota vehicles available. While its high price will be a turnoff for most, those who take the plunge will have a roomy, versatile and powerful vehicle they can truly enjoy in all scenarios — whether traveling with a large family on road, doing some off-road adventures, or driving in inclement weather.


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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser  
  • Price as tested: $89,239 (starts at $85,415)  
  • Best feature: Off-road prowess, high-end and spacious interior  
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those seeking an exclusive off-road ready SUV and are willing to pay a premium  
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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