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2024 Toyota Land Cruiser First Drive: Winning On and Off Road

On-road, off-road, it doesn't matter — this Land Cruiser rules

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser
  • We had the chance to drive one on all sorts of terrain, and it's clear ...
  • The new Land Cruiser is now better on-road than ever before.
  • But how is it off-road, and does it live up to its storied name?

The 2024 Land Cruiser is the latest in a long line of machines that were created to conquer rough terrain. The nameplate has been around for almost 70 years, and the newest iteration is here to do much the same thing as its older kin.

The new 2024 Land Cruiser is related to the similarly new Lexus GX. This midsize SUV seats five passengers and will take its place between the smaller 4Runner and bigger three-row Sequoia within Toyota's lineup of truck-based SUVs. Oh, and there's no longer a V8 under a hood. How big of a deal is that? Does it live up to its storied name? Toyota invited us to test drive its new LC to find out. 

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2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

Land Cruising on-road is easier than ever

All Land Cruisers are powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a hybrid system and combined the two make 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine, because of its somewhat peaky power delivery, isn't naturally a great fit for a big SUV like the Land Cruiser. However, the hybrid system's electric motor complements the engine by providing immediate torque right from a stop, making the entire powertrain feel responsive, even low down in the rev range.

That hybrid system also adds a whole heap of refinement. There’s no lurching or jumping when coming to a stop or moving away from one. It’s smooth the entire time. Despite now being down four cylinders, the new Land Cruiser feels much quicker than the SUV it replaces — we estimate it a 0-60 mph time of around 6.4 seconds, which is very good for something this size. It's also far more efficient than the old Land Cruiser's 5.7-liter V8. The old eight-cylinder returned a rather dismal 14 mpg in combined city/highway driving according to the EPA, but the new LC gets a substantially better 23 mpg. 

You won't be surprised to hear it drives like what it is: a truck-based SUV. Compared to a crossover SUV, it pitches and rolls and dives a lot more if you're driving with some enthusiasm. But among this class of SUVs, the Land Cruiser is actually one of the better-behaved models. The suspension dismisses bumps quickly and regains its composure as opposed to excessively jiggling once you hit bigger bumps or ruts in the road. The Land Cruiser steers more accurately than the Chevrolet Tahoe and other truck-based SUVs in this class, and it brakes smoothly and quickly when needed. 

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

How's the new Land Cruiser off-road?

While a Land Cruiser is a multi-purpose machine, hardcore fans of the brand might argue how it does off-road is more important than how it drives on road. We were given time to drive the Land Cruiser off-road, but it's worth noting from the outset that the off-road course Toyota let us play around on was little challenge for the Land Cruiser. 

We took it slow on two different off-road courses — the first was craggy and full of rocks and slow 20-degree ascents. We spent most of the time there in 4Lo with the center differential locked and the rear locked for certain obstacles. The other was a slightly faster dirt track where we didn't have to use any of the Land Cruiser's off-road hardware, though using the feature to disconnect the front stabilizer bar did add a little extra comfort over the lumps and bumps.

On both courses driving the Land Cruiser felt akin to taking Shohei Ohtani to a Little League game and asking 8-year-olds to try to strike him out. The LC handled everything with ease, composure, and the same level of comfort we experienced on the road. It's clear this SUV is capable of far more than Toyota was willing to let us get into, and we hope to get one soon to evaluate its true ability against some of its off-road competition. 

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

Nicer inside than it needs to be

Despite its blocky appearance, the Land Cruiser is quiet and comfortable inside, even at highway speeds. There's a sense of enveloping calm when you first hop in, and once you get on the road it only grows. There's a confidence and a serenity that only comes through when something has been so thoroughly gone over with engineering polish the way this SUV clearly has.

This is not some new tech-forward design where screens and electronics dominate the experience. All the controls in the Land Cruiser have a solid feel to them and are easy to reach and use without looking. In a world where touch-based controls are becoming the norm, having physical primary controls that you can manipulate on the fly without looking and with gloves on is something we cannot take for granted. 

The back seat of the Land Cruiser is spacious, and because of the body's upright proportions, there is plenty of head- and leg room for backseat riders. The Land Cruiser is a two-row-only SUV, though, so those seeking a third-row option will have to look elsewhere.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser interior

Toyota hasn't skimped on creature comforts. The Land Cruiser has all the trappings of a modern vehicle, including infotainment and driver aids. Wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is standard, and there are multiple USB-C ports and a wireless charging pad to help keep your gadgets topped up.

The interior is easy to use and thoughtfully laid out. If you jump over the base 1958 trim level and go for the midlevel Land Cruiser you are granted a bunch of interior niceties. A head-up display, heated and cooled seats, a camera that's been integrated into the rearview mirror, a 12.3-inch infotainment display, and an identically sized instrument panel that's fully customizable. Even though something with a history of being so rugged might not necessarily need all this tech, the Land Cruiser successfully integrates all of it in a way that isn't overwhelming. 

All Land Cruisers also come with Toyota's Safety Sense 3.0 system as standard. You get adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, road sign recognition, and automatic high beams as standard.

So, does it live up to the Land Cruiser name?

Both on- and off-road, our first impressions revealed few weaknesses and dismissed the notion that a Land Cruiser needs a V8 to live up to its legacy. It's more capable, comfortable, refined, and features a greater bandwidth than ever before. The new Land Cruiser might just be Toyota's most polished product in years, and we can't help but recommend this go-anywhere, do-anything machine.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser front three-quarter

Edmunds says

The Land Cruiser is now so well-rounded and competent on and off-road we'd be tempted to say it's the best one Americans have ever been able to buy. It's *that* good.