America’s new Toyota Land Cruiser is a boxy-butch hybrid

By topgear, 05 August 2023

Ever see a new car and think, “Oh, yeah, they’re gonna sell a billion of these". Meet North America’s new Toyota Land Cruiser – a rugged midsize SUV with rough-and-tumble intentions and a significantly lower starting price than the big daddy Land Cruiser sold around the world.

This Land Cruiser rides on the same TNGA-F body-on-frame architecture as its larger, same-named sibling, and in fact, the two SUVs share a 112.2-inch wheelbase. However, the US-spec Land Cruiser is about 7.5 inches shorter in length, not to mention narrower and not as tall. It’s actually not that much larger than the current Toyota 4Runner, and is closer in size to the recently unveiled Lexus GX.

The Land Cruiser certainly looks the business, at any rate, appearing to have been designed only using right angles. The standard 18-inch wheels and knobby tires give this thing real presence, and the optional 20-inch alloys look great, too. The uptick in the body sides and contrasting white roof are clutch styling choices, and you know, this thing gives off major retro FJ Cruiser vibes. Nice work.

On that note: no, your eyes do not deceive you, there are two different front fascias. The one with the round headlights is reserved for the base model – called Land Cruiser 1985 – as well as a limited-run First Edition, of which 5,000 will be sold throughout North America.

The rectangular lights come on the mid-grade model, which is just called Land Cruiser – unimaginative, but easy enough – and while it’s a pretty good overall look, we’ve got to admit we’re partial to the round lamps. Historical accuracy and all.

With short overhangs and 8.3 inches of ground clearance, the Land Cruiser has approach, departure, and breakover angles of 31, 22, and 25 degrees, respectively. That makes it not quite as rock-ready as a 4Runner, but still pretty solid.

Lots of terrain-friendly driving modes will help the Land Cruiser negotiate rough stuff, and the mid-level and First Edition models come with an electronically disconnecting front stabilizer bar for better wheel articulation.

Rock rails, skid plates, and recovery hooks are all part of the package, so go on, beat the crap out of this thing.

But here’s where things get a little weird. The Land Cruiser doesn’t get the 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 that’s offered in its Lexus GX twin – it instead has a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 with a 1.9-kilowatt-hour battery pack. That’s right, this Land Cruiser’s a four-pot hybrid.

The gasoline-electric powertrain still seems pretty robust, however, offering 326hp and 630Nm of torque, matched with an 8spd automatic transmission and permanent 4-wheel drive with high and low ranges.

Toyota says the Land Cruiser can also tow 6,000 pounds, which is a 1,000-pound improvement over the 4Runner. The hybrid setup will improve efficiency, too – or counteract the aerodynamic penalty of that two-box shape, maybe.

Every Land Cruiser seats five passengers, and the base version comes with cloth seats. The fancier-pantsed among you will likely prefer the synthetic SofTex upholstery of the middle trim or the full-on leather that's reserved for the First Edition.

An 8-inch display comes standard, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but higher grades have a nice, big, 12.3-inch screen, for the maximum tech experience.

What’ll it all cost? Well, that’s the best part. Toyota says the new Land Cruiser will start in the mid-US$50,000 range, which is excellent, considering the larger, last-gen SUV cost US$30,000 more.

Sure, this new US-spec model is a much different vehicle, but it’s also more true to the Land Cruiser’s roots. That, along with cool styling and a great starting price, should make it one heck of a hit.

STORY Steven Ewing

Related Articles