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In-depth reviews

Toyota Land Cruiser review – an iconic go-anywhere offroader

“The Toyota Land Cruiser is a dependable as always, and a little more sophisticated and refined than before”

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Impressive off-roading ability
  • Very practical
  • Toyota reliability and warranty

Cons

  • Not as refined as a Land Rover Defender
  • Lacks power
  • Expensive running costs

Verdict – is the Toyota Land Cruiser a good car?

The Toyota Land Cruiser looks set to be an incredibly dependable and rugged car. There's lots of interior space and clever off-roading equipment, making it a great choice for intrepid explorers heading off the beaten track. While its big diesel engine may not be the cheapest to run, it makes the Land Cruiser incredibly capable, and Toyota has done a good job of making the Land Cruiser feel as good as it can be to drive on the road, too – just don’t expect it to be quite as refined or luxurious as a Land Rover Defender.

Toyota Land Cruiser models, specs and alternatives

The Toyota Land Cruiser is an iconic nameplate from the Japanese brand, having been used on its rugged and capable 4x4s for over 70 years. The last Land Cruiser was around for a staggering 14 years, and this new one aims to take the reins with just as much toughness and dependability as before, with an extra dose of modern tech and refinement for a whole new generation.

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It’s evident that Toyota hasn’t lost sight of its heritage with the new Land Cruiser, with the big 4x4 getting a reassuringly boxy, no nonsense design – the brand even released a First Edition with retro styling reminiscent of its iconic predecessor from the 80s, complete with circular LED headlights and a two-tone paint job, but models are limited to just 3,000 units across Europe. The latest standard Land Cruiser gets square LED headlights and simpler paint options but its angular, utilitarian design is still very retro.

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There’s just one engine option for UK buyers, and it’s a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel producing 200bhp which is shared with the similarly-utilitarian Toyota Hilux pick-up truck. That might sound old-fashioned, but it’s a dependable unit – which is an important factor for a Land Cruiser – and it’s been tweaked and improved by Toyota for better power delivery and refinement. With off-road prowess an important factor, all models come with permanent four-wheel drive, and the Land Cruiser is sold exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The brand says that a mild-hybrid version of the 2.8-litre diesel engine will be introduced later on, bringing even better levels of quietness and refinement on the road, and improved responsiveness. There’s also a full-hybrid version available in the USA, but this won’t be offered in the UK.

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Toyota has strived to create a little more balance when it comes to the Land Cruiser’s everyday usability, but if you’ve come to this review thinking of it as an SUV built primarily for the road, you’d be mistaken – it’s designed through-and-through to be a tough off-roader first and foremost, so it’s worth bearing this in mind.
 

Trim levels

Power options

  • TBC
  • 2.8-litre diesel engine (200bhp)
  • 2.8-litre mild-hybrid diesel engine (Arriving in 2025, details TBC)

Toyota Land Cruiser alternatives

The Toyota Land Cruiser’s most obvious direct rival is, of course, the Land Rover Defender with which it’s had a very long-standing rivalry. Other capable offroaders include another car from Land Rover’s lineup, the Discovery, the Ineos Grenadier, which takes heavy inspiration from the classic Land Rover Defender. Although nowadays considered a flashy SUV that doesn’t often go off the beaten track, the Mercedes G-Class is still off-road capable, while other indirect, but equally utilitarian rivals also include pickups like the Ford Ranger.

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Should you buy a Toyota Land Cruiser?

The latest Toyota Land Cruiser is more sophisticated than ever, yet the brand has clearly lent into its heritage with this model, both in design and ethos. Most importantly, though, it feels dependable and unstoppable where it counts: off the beaten track.

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While Toyota has improved the Land Cruiser’s refinement over the old model’s, it’s still not a match for the Land Rover Defender, which also offers near-luxury levels of comfort. There’s a chance the mild-hybrid version could improve the Land Cruiser’s levels of refinement, but we’ll have to wait until 2025 to find out. 

Off-road, the Toyota Land Cruiser offers incredible levels of traction even on the steepest inclines and through deep trenches – and that was without even having to engage the rest of the car’s equipment, such as locking differentials or anti-roll bar disconnect. The all-wheel drive system and hi-tech computer which responds to changes in terrain worked so well that it tended to keep the Land Cruiser out of trouble in the first place.

While it’s clearly more well-suited to off-road driving, the Land Cruiser is surprisingly easy to live with, although a Defender is better. The Land Cruiser is pretty quiet in terms of road noise at higher speeds, though, and driving on tighter roads isn’t as daunting as it might seem thanks to excellent visibility and a relatively tight turning circle. There’s even a Sport mode which isn’t as redundant as you might expect.

There are certainly more well-rounded cars out there, but if you’re looking for a workhorse that leans towards off-roading ability that’s still fairly usable in other contexts, then the Toyota Land Cruiser is a great choice.

How we tested the Toyota Land Cruiser

We’ve tested a late-stage prototype of the Toyota Land Cruiser on rough terrain in the Scottish highlands.

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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