For more than six decades, the Toyota Land Cruiser has been synonymous with all-conquering, all-terrain prowess and rugged dependability. Early models from the 1950s, known as the BJ-type Land Cruisers, were similar in appearance to U.S. Army Jeeps. They were powered by a small four-cylinder engine and were strictly utilitarian. Slightly less spartan were the six-cylinder-powered FJ20s. But it was the 1960 introduction of the now-iconic FJ40 that secured the Land Cruiser name in history.
Since then, the Toyota Land Cruiser has grown in size, adopted a four-door body style and become much more focused on broad consumer appeal with an increasing number of luxury-oriented features. As such, it is a fairly expensive SUV at this point, new or used. But whatever recent model you look at, you'll find the Land Cruiser thankfully maintains its core off-road principles and unassailable reputation for dependability.
Current Toyota Land Cruiser
As ever, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a large SUV on a traditional body-on-frame design, though it's admirably difficult to discern this from the luxurious cabin. Motivation is provided by a 5.7-liter V8 that churns out 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic sends power to all four wheels via the Land Cruiser's full-time 4WD system with selectable low-range gearing.
Off-road capabilities are bolstered by a long list of specific equipment. "Crawl Control" enhances the drivetrain's capability by maintaining a fixed ultra-slow velocity for hard-core trail-busting. A Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) enables the front and rear antiroll bars to stiffen or relax automatically as conditions change; the theoretical payoff is both flatter cornering and superior wheel articulation for off-road applications. The only sour note here is that ground clearance and approach, departure and break-over angles have been reduced slightly from the last Land Cruiser.
You'd never guess the Land Cruiser had such superb off-road capabilities from within the stately cabin. Feature highlights for the all-inclusive no-options Land Cruiser include leather upholstery, wood trim, a four-zone climate control system, a navigation system, a 14-speaker audio system, three rows of seating for up to eight people and parking sensors all around. Even a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, center-console cooler box and Toyota's Entune smartphone integration system are included.
In our reviews, we've expressed admiration for the Land Cruiser's on-road performance and composure, as well as its sumptuous accommodations. Buyers should take note that the third-row seats are really only suitable for kids, though. The rare individuals who will explore the Land Cruiser's full off-road potential may also find themselves running out of ground clearance on more demanding expeditions. Even with these drawbacks in mind, however, the Toyota Land Cruiser is in a very special class of its own.
Used Toyota Land Cruiser Models
The current Toyota Land Cruiser represents the fifth generation, which was introduced for 2008. Compared to its predecessors, the wheelbase dimensions didn't change, but the big Toyota added 2.4 inches of length and an extra inch of width and height. More power, more luxury features and more space were all welcome for the new model. Changes along the way included the addition of Toyota's Safety Connect advanced telematics system and expanded audio connectivity in 2010. Note that Toyota did not sell a 2012 Land Cruiser, going straight to the 2013 model year, which brought about the current model's slightly updated styling and all-inclusive features list.
The fourth-generation Toyota Land Cruiser was produced from 1998-2007. Though underpowered compared with the current model, the previous Cruiser is still a desirable used vehicle for a shopper interested in a luxurious and dependable midsize or full-size SUV. With a traditional ladder frame structure and seating for eight passengers, this Land Cruiser was an excellent choice for off-road enthusiasts with growing families. It came in just one well-equipped trim level, though upscale options such as rear-seat DVD entertainment and a navigation system were available.
The fourth-generation Cruiser relied on a 4.7-liter V8 that was capable of up to 275 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque (235 hp and 320 lb-ft for pre-2006 versions). A five-speed automatic transmission was standard, as was 4WD with low-range gearing for enhanced off-road performance. As an option, Toyota offered an adjustable suspension system. This system was capable of adjusting the shock valving for better ride comfort and handling, and altering the vehicle's ride height for increased ground clearance when driving on rough terrain.
We liked this version of the Land Cruiser -- a lot. It earned high marks in reviews and was a repeated Edmunds.com Editors' Most Wanted<sup>SM</sup> award winner. Noted positive attributes included its go-anywhere capability, comfortable ride quality, smooth if not scintillating V8 and luxurious interior. Those shopping for a used Toyota Land Cruiser of this generation should feel relatively free to look at all of its years, as Toyota hasn't made any major changes. Generally, the newer the Land Cruiser is, the more features it will have. Stability control came out in 2000, for instance, and a navigation system came in 2001. As noted, one downside to models previous to 2006 is that their V8s produced 40 fewer hp.
Used Land Cruisers from the '90s also provide an impressive mix of capabilities at more affordable prices. Most buyers shopping for a used four-door Land Cruiser are going to be interested in the third-generation model that was available for the 1990-'97 model years. Though this SUV wasn't as large, luxurious or powerful as the current model, it still represents a top pick for a shopper interested in a used SUV that's comfortable and off-road worthy. At its debut, the vehicle could seat five passengers in its two rows of seating. Under its hood was a 155-hp, 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine. It had 4WD but the driver had to manually lock the front hubs to activate it. The following year, Toyota replaced that setup with a full-time 4WD system. Other major upgrades for this model included a larger 212-hp engine in 1993 and enhanced safety equipment in 1995.
In Edmunds.com reviews of the third-generation Toyota Land Cruiser, praise was given for its impressive off-road ability, strong engine and durable nature. The main noted downsides were the SUV's uninspiring acceleration and its lofty price. Depreciation, of course, has mitigated this latter issue, although resale values remain impressively high.
Read the most recent 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Toyota Land Cruiser page.