2020 Toyota Land Cruiser white driving

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Road Test and Review

If rumors are to be believed, the Toyota Land Cruiser may soon be discontinued in the U.S. market. That will come as a blow to enthusiasts who have watched the iconic 4x4 blossom over its 60-year history in America — from the FJ40 to the current J200 generation. But heritage can only take a vehicle so far, and with just over 3,000 Cruisers sold in the States each year, it doesn’t make much sense for Toyota to develop a new generation to meet U.S. safety standards. For now, though, the Land Cruiser solders on. And despite existing in largely the same form since 2007, the truck remains uniquely suited to all-terrain adventurer needs. With a potent V8, a two-speed transfer case, a locking differential, robust towing capacity, and generous ground clearance, the 2020 Land Cruiser is one of the most — if not the most — capable full-size SUVs on sale.

  1. What’s New for 2020
  2. Exterior Styling
  3. Interior Comfort
  4. Convenience and Safety Technologies
  5. Powertrain
  6. Driving Dynamics
  7. Pricing and Packages
  8. Highs and Lows
  9. Competition
  10. Our Take
What’s New for 2020

What’s New for 2020

To spark some interest in its aging icon, Toyota released the 2020 Heritage Edition with some throwback styling cues and overland-ready hardware. Exterior giveaways for the Heritage model include 18-inch bronze BBS wheels wrapped in Dunlop AT23 Grandtrek tires, vintage Land Cruiser badges on the D-pillars, and a black Yakima Megawarrior roof basket. It’s not all add-ons, though — Toyota removed the running boards to improve ground clearance (as a bonus, it makes the Cruiser appear lifted) and nixed the chrome side moldings. Inside, the Heritage Edition features the same fully-loaded cabin as the standard model, but loses the third row of seats to make space for overland essentials like a fridge, storage boxes, and recovery gear.

Exterior Styling

Exterior Styling

Small design tweaks over the years have slowed the Land Cruiser’s physical maturation, but you’ll never hear anyone call it innovative. Instead, there’s something comforting about the truck’s boxy physique, chiseled edges, and smooth body panels. As Toyota’s most expensive model, the Land Cruiser could be considered a brand flagship, but it’s much better suited to covert commuting. That’s not to say the Land Cruiser is dull — LED taillights illuminate snazzy geometric shapes, a deeply indented hood flows into a letterbox grille, and chrome trim for the window surrounds and trunk lid spice up the exterior. And if you need more of a statement piece, the Heritage Edition’s bronze wheels and prodigious cargo basket should do the trick.

Interior Comfort

Interior Comfort

As its name implies, the Land Cruiser is built for long-haul comfort. Function leads form within the cabin — only satin plastics, contrast stitching, and walnut wood inserts break up the uniform aesthetic. Instead of panoramic glass sunroofs, ornate trims, and mood lighting, the Land Cruiser affords ample space for up to eight passengers, user-friendly features, and thick leather seats. Front occupants are treated to multi-way adjustable heated and ventilated chairs, a heated steering wheel, and generous storage cubbies. Rear riders have independent climate control settings and outboard heated seats. At highway speeds, it’s hard to believe the Land Cruiser is the aerodynamic equivalent of a moving wall; conversations can be conducted at normal volume while wind and road noise are kept in check. With every seat occupied, there’s only 16 cubic feet of trunk storage, but folding the second and third rows opens that up to a cavernous 81.7 cubic feet.

Convenience and Safety Technologies

Convenience and Safety Technologies

When it comes to technology, the 2020 Land Cruiser is a mixed bag. Like every new Toyota vehicle, the Cruiser comes standard with the brand’s Safety Sense P suite of driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, a lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and a rear cross-traffic alert. These features are valuable on a Corolla, but that much more so on a vehicle as large and long-legged as the Land Cruiser. Convenience tech is a different, sadder story. Though other Toyotas are now benefitting from upgrades like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Land Cruiser soldiers on with Bluetooth and an outdated infotainment system. Though shown on a generous 9-inch display, Toyota’s Entune software is slow, the screen resolution is poor, and the menu is confusing. No amount of additional coin will get you tech like a head-up display, fully digital instrument cluster, Wi-Fi, birds-eye camera views, or more than one USB port for the entire SUV. Thankfully, the 14-speaker JBL sound system puts out clear audio; wireless smartphone charging lets you worry less about USB ports; keyless entry and ignition won’t have you fumbling for a remote; and an available rear entertainment will keep the kids occupied.

Powertrain

Powertrain

The 2020 Land Cruiser is clearly a one-size-fits-all vehicle, and that includes its powertrain. Every model is equipped with a 5.7-liter V8 producing 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. That’s connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission and permanent four-wheel drive. As one might expect, this big engine lends itself to less-than-impressive fuel economy figures. Despite a 24.6-gallon gas tank, the Land Cruiser will make frequent trips to the gas station with its EPA ratings of 13 mpg in the city, 17 mpg on the highway, and 14 mpg combined. In our week of mixed driving, we saw just 12.9 mpg. On the bright side, those who anticipate using the truck for highway-heavy trips can expect 400 miles between fill-ups.

Driving Dynamics

Driving Dynamics

In exchange for efficiency, the Land Cruiser affords prodigious grunt and smooth performance. The eight-speed automatic intuitively finds the right gear at any speed while the engine pulls effortlessly. From a standstill, the Land Cruiser will hit 60 mph in less than 7 seconds (no doubt surprising other traffic), and it scrubs excess speed easily with strong brakes. And when the journey takes you off paved roads, the Land Cruiser’s impressive collection of all-terrain tech should keep you out of trouble. For technical trails, the truck’s two-speed transfer case makes the most of the SUV's V8 torque, and for low-traction situations, the center differential can be locked to send power to just the front or rear axle. Inexperienced off-roaders will also appreciate standard downhill assist and crawl control that automatically adjusts throttle and braking to maneuver over or down tricky terrain. Perhaps the coolest bit of trail tech for such a large vehicle is Toyota’s off-road turn assist. By braking the inner wheel when turning, the Land Cruiser can effectively pivot to reduce its turning circle. This should come in handy on tight switchbacks that would otherwise require a multi-point maneuver.

Pricing and Packages

Pricing and Packages

Unlike most luxury vehicles, personalizing a 2020 Land Cruiser takes less than five minutes and doesn’t require an accounting degree. There are two basic trim levels: basic ($86,640) and Heritage ($88,970). Once you've picked one of those two models, the choices are simple: exterior paint (black, white, blue, silver, or gray), leather color (brown or black), and whether you want the rear entertainment system for $2,220. That’s it!

Highs and Lows

Highs and Lows

Highs:
- Rugged design with retro Heritage Edition touches
- Straightforward, user-friendly cabin
- Incredible off-road capability without a single modification
- Comfortable, well-insulated passenger experience for any road trip Lows:
- Dated convenience technologies are hard to excuse at almost $90,000
- Keeping the Land Cruiser fueled up will cost a fortune

Competition

Competition

Stiff competition can be credited for the Land Cruiser’s waning sales in recent years. Though Toyota’s kingpin remains comfortable and spacious, its near-$90K price tag puts it in the crosshairs of vehicles like the Lexus LX 570 ($86,380) and the Lincoln Navigator ($75,825). In terms of off-road capability, the LX is effectively a mirror image of the Land Cruiser, sharing its platform and drivetrain with its Japanese sibling. The material difference between the two is the Lexus’s Active Height Control, an air suspension system that can raise the vehicle’s ride height by 3.0 inches. The additional ground clearance helps the LX 570 avoid scraping fenders, but if you regularly seek highly technical trails, you’re better off with a shorter-wheelbase rig with more articulation. If, on the other hand, you don't plan anything more challenging than the occasional dirt path, the Navigator bundles cutting-edge conveniences in a posh package. Using a twin-turbo V6 in lieu of a V8, the Navigator produces 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, plus 18 mpg in mixed driving. Cargo capacity exceeds the LX and Land Cruiser as well, at 20 cubic feet behind the third row and 103 cubic feet with all seats folded.

Our Take

Our Take

Six decades since its U.S. debut, the Toyota Land Cruiser fights the same fight it always has (with mostly the same weapons). Adventure enthusiasts who need bountiful cargo and passenger volume, comfortable accommodations, and unquestionable reliability will find a perfect mate in the 2020 Land Cruiser. Those with a more suburban agenda, however, should apply their resources to a more luxurious and technologically advanced competitor.