As vehicle designs become more and more caught up with the latest trends and gimmicks, the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser stands alone more now than ever. A hulking, expensive and often-misunderstood SUV that was designed back in the mid-2000s, the now-13-year-old Land Cruiser is an automotive anomaly heading into the 2020 model year. While most vehicles rely on big ad campaigns and major redesigns every few years in order to stay relevant, the Land Cruiser hangs its hat on conservative design, unrivaled dependability and go-anywhere utility, leaving it with a small but viciously loyal customer base. Given that it’s relied on for some of the toughest transportation roles the world over, it’s also built to a higher mechanical standard than pretty much anything else on the road, and Cruisers are known to make it over 300,000 miles with only routine maintenance.
You probably wouldn’t know this though, as Toyota has devoted hardly any marketing dollars to the Land Cruiser over the last 15 years, as the company would rather sell you one of the more profitable SUVs in its portfolio like the Sequoia, 4Runner or Highlander. This shows in the Land Cruiser’s sales figures, which have hovered at around only 3,000 units per year here in the U.S. since the current 200 Series generation went on sale for the 2008 model year. Factor in that Toyota seems to see more upside in the Land Cruiser’s luxury-badged mechanical twin, the Lexus LX 570, and the Land Cruiser’s future here in the U.S. remains unknown. This is a shame, because in this era of planned obsolescence and rampant consumerism, the Land Cruiser is a member of a shrinking pool of products that is overbuilt, overengineered and meant to last a lifetime. There’s a reason Land Cruiser owners keep their vehicles longer than any other vehicle owner group.
So what’s this mean for you as a consumer? Well, while it’s an incredible piece of engineering, the Land Cruiser is probably overkill for most buyers in the market for a large SUV, and its nearly-$90,000 price tag is almost definitely outside the budget of most consumers. On top of that, when it comes to family-efficient features like interior storage cubbies, easy-folding seats and reasonable fuel economy, the Land Cruiser comes up pretty short, and other high-end SUVs like the Lincoln Navigator, Land Rover Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade and even Toyota’s own Sequoia, all offer more mainstream appeal.
What’s New for 2020?
The Land Cruiser gains a new Heritage Edition trim level for the 2020 model year. See the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser models for sale near you
What We Like
- It’ll last forever
- Unrivaled off-road capability
- Potent V8
- Strong 8,100-lb. towing capacity
- Good safety tech
- Luxuries and technology galore
- 8-passenger seating
What We Don’t
- Atrocious fuel economy
- Weak infotainment
- Cumbersome on-road handling
- Side-stowing third-row seat takes up considerable cargo space
Every 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser comes standard with full-time 4-wheel drive (4WD), an 8-speed automatic transmission and a 5.7-liter V8 putting out 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-rated fuel economy stands at an abysmal 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg in combined driving. That makes the Land Cruiser one of the least efficient vehicles on the market. There is some benefit to the big V8, though, as the Land Cruiser scampers from 0-to-60 mph in about 6.7 seconds and offers a towing capacity of up to 8,100 pounds.
Standard Features & Options
For 2020, the Land Cruiser is offered in two different versions. There’s the regular old Land Cruiser that goes unchanged from its 2019 version, and then there’s a new Heritage Edition which adds some aesthetic tweaks as a nod to both the off-road community and to vintage Land Cruisers that are now seeing a resurgence in popularity.
The basic Land Cruiser ($86,640) offers 18-in silver alloy wheels, skid plates, a surround-view parking camera, a sunroof, automatic LED headlights, power-folding and autodimming mirrors, automatic wipers, proximity entry and push-button start, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, 4-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated 8-way power front seats, driver memory functions, heated second-row seats, a 50/50-split third-row seat, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a 9-in touchscreen interface, a navigation system, Bluetooth, wireless smartphone charging and a 14-speaker JBL sound system with a CD player, HD Radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Land Cruiser’s only available option is a $2,200 rear-seat entertainment system with two 11.6-in displays, an HDMI input, wireless headphones and RCA jacks. Considering that this costs more than a pair of iPad Pros, we can’t see any reason to check this option box.
New for 2020 is the Heritage Edition ($88,970). While it isn’t a nod to any specific anniversary (Toyota’s press release just says that it "celebrates 60+ years as an SUV icon") the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition comes with a unique grille, bronze-colored versions of the same forged-aluminum BBS wheels found on the Tundra and Sequoia TRD Pro, bronze interior stitching, and ultra-cool vintage-inspired "Toyota Land Cruiser" badges on its D-pillars. The Heritage Edition also ditches the running boards that come standard on the regular Land Cruiser, which gives it a more athletic stance and better off-road clearance. Toyota also opted to do away with the Land Cruiser’s third-row seat when putting together this new trim, meaning that the Heritage Edition is strictly a five seater. Zero options and just two exterior color choices are offered: black or white.
The Land Cruiser comes with standard stability control and 10 airbags, including seat-mounted side airbags for the first two rows and full-length side-curtain airbags. Also standard are forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic detection. There’s also a surround-view camera system. The standard Safety Connect telematics system offers automatic collision notification to ensure help is on the way in the event of an accident.
The Land Cruiser has not been crash tested by the third-party Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) here in the United States, but it’s worth noting that in testing conducted by Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) — the Australian equivalent of IIHS — the Land Cruiser receives five out of five stars.
Behind the Wheel
On the pavement, the Land Cruiser is an endearing brute. The throaty 5.7-liter V8 certainly helps, as you’ll likely find yourself amazed at how quickly this hulking vehicle gets going from a dead stop (0-to-60 comes in about 6.7 seconds). The Cruiser’s enormous dimensions and hefty weight are readily apparent from behind the wheel though, and you’ll constantly be reminded that you’re driving a barge when taking a corner or trying to park, not to mention all the stops you’ll need to make at the gas station thanks to its abysmal fuel economy. But at least you’ll feel completely invincible behind the wheel.
Off-road, the Land Cruiser is nothing short of engineering excellence. No, there isn’t a TRD Pro version and it doesn’t offer any tacky Fox or Multimatic cobranding on its shock absorbers, but the Land Cruiser is arguably in a league of its own when it comes to capability and dependability. We’ve taken the Land Cruiser off-road in the desert of Southern Utah. On long, flat dirt roads, the vehicle eats up washboard as well as any other vehicle on the market. Once the going becomes more technical, the 200’s true low-range 4WD transfer case, solid rear axle and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which can automatically disconnect the vehicle’s front and rear sway bars for added articulation, allow it to tackle uneven obstacles with a sure-footedness found in few other vehicles on the market. Making matters easier is the inclusion of Toyota’s Crawl Control system which is akin to off-road cruise control, different terrain modes, a locking center differential, active traction control that can mimic the effects of locking front and rear differentials, and a clever off-road turn assist feature that can pulse the inside brake on the kind of tight maneuvers necessary when traversing a set of steep mountain switchbacks. There’s a reason these vehicles are trusted for everything from transporting foreign diplomats through war-torn nations to traversing the remote and unforgiving Australian outback: There’s really nothing else like the Land Cruiser.
The Land Cruiser’s front seats are plush and broad, and they’re mounted high to give the driver a commanding view of the road. Dashboard materials are mostly upscale, though they’re a little more utilitarian that what you’ll find on the more expensive Land Rover Range Rover or the Lexus LX 570. The second-row bench reclines to an almost hilarious degree, but only when the third row isn’t folded up (more on that below). The second row also sits rather low relative to the front seats, so back-seat passengers may find they have a less-than-ideal amount of under-leg support.
The third row is also a 3-person bench, making the Land Cruiser a rare 8-passenger vehicle. None of those in the back will have much in the way of space, however, and access is awkward. Plus, the seats themselves don’t fold away into the floor — they flip up sideways, and aren’t easily removable, meaning they take up considerable space when not in use and limit the second row’s recline. Worth noting: The new-for-2020 Heritage Edition goes without a third row.
Around back, the Land Cruiser employs a unique split rear lift gate design. The glass is hinged at the top and lifts upwards, while the lower section folds down like a tailgate, allowing it to serve as everything from a work surface to a countertop to a bench for sitting down to change your socks after a muddy hike.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Lexus LX 570 — The LX 570 is the Land Cruiser’s mechanical twin. Although you probably already know whether you’d prefer the Toyota or the Lexus based on their styling and image, the LX 570 is still worth mentioning, since it offers virtually the same features and packaging as the Land Cruiser.
Used 2008-2019 Toyota Land Cruiser or Lexus LX 570 — The Land Cruiser and LX 570 are so unique that prospective buyers might want to consider a used one before venturing over to a competing vehicle from a different marque. Since these twins have gone so long without a full redesign, a used one won’t be that much different from a new one, and Toyota/Lexus reliability means that mileage hardly matters.
2020 Lincoln Navigator — As far as big, road-going SUVs go, the new-for-2019 Navigator more or less sets the standard in the segment. It isn’t one for going off-road, but its unmatched cabin space, elegant styling, impressive feature array, and excellent 450-hp engine propel the Navigator to the forefront of the segment. Two different wheelbases are offered: huge and super huge.
2020 Land Rover Range Rover — Long a staple in the luxury SUV segment, the Range Rover costs more, but it features an available supercharged V8 and one of the finest cabins at any price point. There’s no third-row seat, however, and depreciation will be considerably steeper than with a comparable Land Cruiser or LX. Finally, Land Rovers are also known for reliability issues. There’s even an old Australian proverb that goes something like, "If you want to go into the Outback, take a Land Rover, but if you want to make it back home afterward, take a Land Cruiser." Enough said.
We understand that more modern, mainstream SUVs probably make more sense for most consumers, but we still can’t help but recommend the Land Cruiser, and if we were in the market for a 2020 model, we’d absolutely opt for the Heritage Edition. In addition to being cooler looking than any Land Cruiser sold in the U.S. since the 1990s thanks to its unique grille, bronze wheels and retro-inspired heritage emblems, the Heritage Edition’s exclusivity will almost certainly result in increased desirability down the road (which translates to even more rock-solid resale value). That said, if you need to seat more than five, you’ll have to look to the standard model, as the Heritage Edition eschews the Land Cruiser’s third-row seats. Either way, there’s a chance Toyota discontinues the Land Cruiser here in the United States some time in the next few years — a huge mistake in our opinion given its unbreakable, bank vault-esque design. Nevertheless, though, if you’ve dreamed of owning one of these automotive icons, act soon, as your time to pick up a brand new Land Cruiser may be running out. Find a Toyota Land Cruiser for sale