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CA – Barrett Junction The brand-new Toyota  2024 Land Cruiser may be our first drive of it, but we’ll be attempting to get one for a more thorough examination as soon as we can. Our drive was limited to a few laps on a specially designed off-road course, and not a very long one at that, plus thirty minutes of driving on a meandering rural highway that featured long sweepers and steep grades. To put it briefly, even within the generally constrained parameters of a first drive event, this was not the location for an exhaustive or equitable assessment.

And the night before our drive, the equally all-new 4Runner was unveiled, which further complicated the story of the Toyota Land Cruiser 2024. The current generation suggests that the 2025’s hardcore off-roading trim levels should be around the Land Cruiser’s starting price of $57,345, even though 4Runner pricing won’t be revealed until the fall. Given that those trim levels have the same robust hybrid powertrain, new body-on-frame platform, comparable dimensions, and a lot more creature comfort and mechanical equipment than the Land Cruiser, it begs the question: why buy the Land Cruiser?

According to Toyota, the entry-level “Land Cruiser 1958” is a “blank canvas” for more committed off-roaders who wish to customise their vehicle. There are few options, minimal frills, rock-hard plastic door and dash surfaces, and strong fabric coverings for the seats. The new manually detachable stabiliser bar, skid plates, and roof rails—including the latter as an accessory—are not available. When the new Land Cruiser was introduced, this do-it-yourself idea looked appealing, and some people might be content to spend $6,000 less than the base price of the top “Land Cruiser” trim level. They would receive that, along with a tonne of other hardware in the new 4Runner TRD Pro or Trailhunter—hardware they wouldn’t have to spend money adding to a stripper Land Cruiser—in my opinion, even though the disconnecting stabiliser bar is hardly a frill.

I repeatedly posed the question, “What are the reasons someone might choose a 1958 instead of a 4Runner TRD Pro or Trailhunter?” to different Toyota representatives. Nobody could name a feature, specification, target audience, use case, or overarching objective explanation. But eventually, one distinctly individualised response emerged: those who desire a land cruiser will ultimately desire one. The objective arguments in favour of the 4Runner won’t really matter, just as they didn’t when someone selected the unquestionably adorable but flawed FJ Cruiser (or selected one on the used market). It everything boils down to style and personality. People who are interested in 4Runners will want to own one because a 4Runner is a 4Runner. People who want Land Cruisers will want Land Cruisers, but hey, even if all that objective stuff convinces them to get a 4Runner instead, they still ended up buying a Toyota. One dollar this, one dollar that. Alright, that makes sense.

But that isn’t the final dilemma from 1958. Regarding design, you may have observed that the updated “Land Cruiser” features a variety of rectangular LED components and a combination of body-color and alloy-look trim, whereas the 1958 has round LED headlights and plain black trim all over the fascia. The round headlights are part of the upgraded Land Cruiser fascia, and they are only available for a year on the First Edition (shown below in beige). Based on feedback from the internet and people I met at the press launch, it seems that people really like the retro round headlights. Don’t be shocked if demand leads to a headlight option of some kind once the First Edition is sunset, based on some whispers, nudges, and winks during the first drive event.

The 2.4-liter turbo inline-four, eight-speed automatic transmission, and electric motor that generate 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque are the same components of the “i-Force Max” hybrid powertrain that powers all Land Cruisers. It wasn’t helped by my brief, bumpy ride, but this performance-focused hybrid looks more than capable of towing slightly more than 5,000 pounds of Land Cruiser. That is roughly 800 fewer than the previous model, which had a 5.7-liter V8 with 2,100 more pounds of towing capacity and a few more horsepower but a lot less torque. It also received a combined mileage of 14 mpg. The new model receives 23 mpg overall, which is significantly better than the 17 mpg combined for the turbo V6 in the Lexus GX, which is essentially the Land Cruiser’s upscale twin. Since the Land Cruiser’s four-cylinder engine generates a lot of loud noise, I would argue that the Land Cruiser’s fuel efficiency benefit exceeds the GX’s performance advantage.

After a brief drive, I noticed that the 1958 car had excellent road holding, which I attributed to its off-road suspension, body-on-frame construction, and high-profile all-season tyres. The body roll isn’t too much, the steering is accurate with the right amount of weighting (I didn’t really notice if it was added in Sport mode), and the well-adjusted damping prevented the body from bouncing around during mid-corner bumps. Nevertheless, the fact that the truck is body-on-frame cannot be ignored. Like the mechanically related Sequoia, there are the unmistakable jiggles and wiggles over bumps, and I have a suspicion that the available 20-inch wheels might intensify that feeling.

Off road, the new manually disconnectable stabiliser bar that enhances wheel articulation is the primary feature that sets the Land Cruiser variants apart. While the Lexus GX Overtrail’s e-KDSS system is a more advanced automated disconnect system that has advantages both on and off road, it’s also more complex and expensive for those wishing to adjust their suspension. For that, the manual disconnect is preferable, and it continues to work incredibly well when navigating the different uneven off-road obstacles Toyota designed specifically for the course. similar to this

To be clear, there was more body movement and lateral rocking in the 1958, but it still managed to survive. The standard Crawl Control low-speed off-road cruise control and hill-descent control are complemented with Multi-Terrain Select off-road drive modes on the “Land Cruiser” trim level.

Full-time four-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive with a low range that can be selected by sliding a thick toggle on the centre console down and back towards 4WD Low, is standard equipment on all 2024 Land Cruisers. The stabiliser bar and electronically locked centre and rear differential buttons are located next to that. The Multi-Terrain Select options and on-road drive modes, if available, are controlled by a multifunctional knob.

With approach, breakover, and departure angles of 31 degrees, 25 degrees, and 22 degrees, respectively, the ground clearance is 8.7 inches. Because of its unique wheel/tire package, the 1958 has a slightly worse approach of 30 degrees, but I suppose those do-it-yourselfers will discard it anyhow. All of the aforementioned are inferior to the current 4Runner, but all of them—aside from the approach angle—are superior to the previous, outdated Land Cruiser (32/24/21 degrees). It should be mentioned that off-roading on narrower trails is much easier with the new Land Cruiser’s significantly smaller dimensions (4.4 inches narrower and 2.1 shorter in length). It’s almost like trading in an elephant for a horse. With its tall, upright windscreen and flat, squared-off hood, which make the view out of the new 2025 4Runner seem like a pillbox by comparison, visibility is also very good. If that’s not enough, every model except the 1958 has multiple camera views (though it would be nice if they continued to operate at a speed slightly faster than 9 mph).

The interior quality of the 1958 and upper “Land Cruiser” trims (the First Edition is the same as the latter) varies greatly, as was previously mentioned. Although the 1958’s fabric has a charming vintage feel to it, all of the hard plastic is coarse, both literally and figuratively. The door armrests are made of plastic that is not padded. Hurt. In addition, the instrument display is significantly smaller at 8 inches compared to the 12.3 inches of colourful, multi-view screens on the other trims. They also come with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, but the software is essentially the same. The upper trims also include armrests and padded door and dash surfaces covered in SofTex simulated leather, creating a cabin that feels and looks like something that would cost over $60,000. Additionally, compared to the new 4Runner, the design is less harsh and, well, Tacoma-like, which offers a compelling argument for choosing the Land Cruiser over the 4Runner. You must, of course, pay extra as well.

I’m six feet three, so I had no trouble finding a good spot up front on the manual seats in the 1958 or the power ones in the other trims. I thought the old Land Cruiser had very little front legroom. The new Land Cruiser allowed me to comfortably sit behind myself, with a finger’s width between my knees and the back of the front seat. Compared to the 4Runner, there is more headroom, and the seatback reclines quite far. The battery pack of the hybrid system raises the floor by about a hand’s width, which reduces cargo space and leaves a small, full-width bin at the trailing edge of the cargo area. Although Toyota did not specify cargo capacity, I would guess that the Land Cruiser has about 40 cubic feet, given that the third-row seat on the Lexus GX raises the cargo floor by a comparable amount. That is very large, and loading cargo should be easy because of its boxy shape.

However, the Land Cruiser does not come with a third-row seat—at least not in this particular market. However, because it shares so much with the GX and is used in other locations, the cargo area still has grab handles to help lift you out of an imaginary third row in addition to air vents, armrests, USB ports, and cupholders. Is this relevant? Not at all, and your cargo will hopefully be kept cool. There is also a 2,400-watt inverter back there that can power it.

There’s a lot more to discover about the new 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, as was mentioned at the outset. Although it demonstrated its worth on a trail that appeared to be quite similar to regular off-road usage (no crazy boulder fields were crossed), we still need to make the kind of on-road drive required to access the trail in the first place. Not to mention more daily driving, but that’s not always found during a first-time driver experience. We won’t be able to know for years or even decades how this newer, lighter, hybrid-powered, and ostensibly less sturdy Land Cruiser will hold up over time against earlier models that are still navigating the Andes, the Sahara, and other regions with the impeccable build quality and unwavering dependability that made the Land Cruiser brand legendary. Though only the Lexus LX is available in the United States, you can actually purchase a next-generation model of those. And that most definitely won’t be for you if you’re not sure about frills. There is no dilemma there.

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