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Buying a Used Toyota Land Cruiser: Everything You Need to Know

Among off-road enthusiasts, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a legendary machine. But, to the newcomers who don’t know its history, it’s just another big SUV with a sterling reputation for longevity, reliability and capability. Regardless into which camp you fall, buying a used Land Cruiser isn’t going to bring many unpleasant surprises, so long as you accept the fact that even with high miles they don’t come cheap and fuel economy figures in the low teens are to be expected. We’ve broken down the Land Cruiser’s long history and numerous changes, as well as each generation’s pluses and minus, which will hopefully help you decide which version is the best fit.

Which Toyota Land Cruiser Should I Buy?

The Land Cruiser first appeared in Japan in the mid-1950s as a military vehicle very similar to the Jeep Willys. Throughout the ’50s and most of the ’60s, the Land Cruiser remained a very basic, very small SUV that quickly gained a reputation for durability, ease of repair and a tenacious desire to conquer all things off-road. But in 1967, a four-door wagon version appeared giving Toyota a vehicle that was comparable to the big American Chevy Suburban, as well as the Land Rover Range Rover. The Land Cruiser 50 Series was a more capable off-road vehicle than the Suburban, although it was nowhere near as powerful. More importantly, the Land Cruiser was far more reliable than either the Suburban or Range Rover, and that gave it street cred with a small but loyal fan base.

60 Series

For the purpose of this review, we’re going to focus on the four-door, full-size Toyota Land Cruiser 60 Series that began life around 1980. It included more luxury touches that made it less rudimentary and more of what Americans were used to driving. These Land Cruisers have a solid front axle and an inline 6-cylinder engine. While popular with collectors and off-roaders, this version is still pretty old, and finding one in good condition is going to be tough.

A quick look at pricing shows these models in good condition can run anywhere from $5,000 to about $10,000, depending on condition and modifications. It’s also important to note the book value prices and real-world prices varied wildly. People are willing to pay good money for a well-maintained used Land Cruiser, which may explain why the private party asking prices are so much higher than wholesale or trade-in values.

80 Series

The 80 Series (1991–1997) retained the solid front axles, large expanses of glass, thin A-pillars and 6-cylinder engine but got a bit more civilized. The sharp edges were rounded off and the interior upgraded. Full-time 4-wheel drive with locking center differential and a set of third-row seats that could fold flat or swing up to create a level load floor marked some of the more important upgrades.

Safety features included front airbags and anti-lock brakes. Reliability for this generation is excellent with owners reporting 300,000 miles and more with only minimal costs for replacement parts. This is also the generation that spawned a Lexus spin-off model, the LX 470. Pricing for these models is tough to lock down as they seem harder to find than the later generations. We spotted a few with 250,000 miles selling in a range between $3,500–$8,000, but most were heavily modified.

100 Series

The more desirable Land Cruiser is the 100 Series model that debuted in 1998 and ran through 2007. These models have a more sophisticated independent front suspension that makes them much more comfortable on long drives. The 100 Series is also powered by a 4.7-liter V8 making 230 horsepower and a robust 320 lb-ft of torque. If you do any kind of towing, this is the engine you’ll want under your Land Cruiser’s hood. Toyota also added more structural integrity to the design, with more bracing, stronger welds and better construction methods.

Finally, in an attempt to directly challenge the Range Rover, the 100 Series Land Cruiser gained more luxury with such desirable features as power-operated heated front seats and a power moonroof. This was also the last generation of Land Cruiser to offer an electronic locking rear differential. A quick search around the net revealed a number of 2002–2005 models with roughly 200,000 miles selling in the $11–15K range.

200 Series

The current Toyota Land Cruiser is part of the 200 Series that debuted in 2008. It is far more luxurious than the 100 Series, but it also lost some of the more die-hard off-road features like the locking rear differential. This generation was clearly designed to lock horns with the Land Rover Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, hence its heavy influence and shared componentry with the Lexus LX. The 200 Series Land Cruiser is bigger, heavier and much more technically sophisticated, offering such complex systems as electronic 4-wheel crawl, downhill assist control, a multi-terrain monitor and Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that allows for better wheel articulation when off-roading.

The 200 Series was refreshed for the 2016 model year. It had a revised exterior, an 8-speed automatic transmission replacing the old 6-speed, new standard safety and tech features, and an updated infotainment system. These updates made the Land Cruiser a decidedly more modern SUV, but they’re awfully expensive on the used market.

That all sounds great, but 10 or 15 years down the road, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to find replacement parts for these advanced systems. As early models listed for between $50–$75,000 when new, used models are still pulling big numbers well above the $30,000 mark, even with high mileage. Seeking out a late model (2016 or newer) will bring more features including advanced driver-assist technologies like forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control and auto high beams. These models will also qualify for Toyota’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program that brings a full inspection plus an extended powertrain 7-year/100,000-mile warranty from the vehicle’s original date in service. A used 200 Series is easy to shop for since it only comes in one trim.

How much can a Toyota Land Cruiser tow?

The answer to this question depends on which model year you’re looking to buy. The 80 Series can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The 100 Series with its V8 engine and more robust frame can tow up to 6,500 pounds, while the 200 Series can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

What is the best year for the Toyota Land Cruiser?

Again, this all depends on what you plan to do with your Land Cruiser. If you’re good with a wrench and just plan to take your Land Cruiser on off-road adventures like rock crawling and mudding, an 80 Series or older will be just fine. However, if you’re looking for a vehicle that will also be your daily driver, we think the 100 Series is the best overall choice.

It offers plenty of creature comforts, has a fantastic reliability record and offers some modern safety features, but its price is still within what many used SUV buyers consider reasonable. The 200 Series will likely be much more expensive and may not be as easy or inexpensive to repair down the road. However, a newer model will offer many more safety features and driver-assist technologies, as well as lower mileage and possibly even a CPO warranty.

Is it safe to buy a Land Cruiser with high mileage?

While no used car purchase can be a guaranteed sure thing, the Land Cruiser’s reputation for durability, longevity and low maintenance costs make it one of the safer high-mileage vehicles one can buy. However, before buying any used car, we highly recommend taking it to an authorized Toyota dealer or mechanic for a thorough inspection.

Is it hard to find parts for older Toyota Land Cruiser models?

Parts for most year Land Cruisers are fairly easy to come by. However, finding original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts may become more difficult as the years go by. This matters because part of the Land Cruiser’s near bulletproof reputation has to do with the quality and high design standards set by Toyota for the original parts. Some aftermarket parts or remanufactured parts may not hold up as long or as well, which is another reason you want a mechanic to check out your ride before you buy.

What Are the Issues to Watch Out for With a Land Cruiser?

Other than normal wear-and-tear issues, there really is nothing that stands out as a major failing on these vehicles. Even 20-year-old models are still running strong. The Land Cruiser’s engine, transmission, transfer case and 4WD systems are all tough as nails. The 2008–2013 Land Cruiser was included in the massive Toyota Recall dealing with unintended acceleration issues linked to a faulty accelerator pedal, but that’s about it.

How Does the Toyota Land Cruiser Stack Up to the Competition?

Used Land Cruiser vs. Used Range Rover — While certainly as capable as the Land Cruiser, and probably more luxurious, the Range Rover isn’t known for its reliability or low cost of ownership, especially the older models.

Used Land Cruiser vs. Used Toyota 4Runner — The 4Runner isn’t as large or powerful as the Land Cruiser, but it is just as rugged, has an equally good reputation for durability and off-road readiness and won’t cost as much to own or fill up with gas.

Used Land Cruiser vs. Used Jeep Wrangler Unlimited — The Wrangler Unlimited has four doors, a removable top and an impressive off-road resume, especially the Rubicon model. The Wrangler is very basic, and older models are fairly easy to work on with an abundance of aftermarket parts available. However, don’t look for the Wrangler to post the kind of high-mileage reliability bragging rights attributed to the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Used Land Cruiser vs. Used Toyota FJ Cruiser — Based on a stretched Land Cruiser/Prado platform, the FJ Cruiser is smaller than the Land Cruiser, but it too has a good reputation for durability and off-road ability. Large blind spots and poor fuel economy are the trade-offs.

Is the Toyota Land Cruiser a Good Vehicle?

In the areas of engineering, build quality, reliability and capability, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a top dog. However, the Land Cruiser has a specific type of buyer, one who understands this big SUV’s limitations.

Fuel economy is poor, the ride stiff and the handling far from sporty. Depending on which year you buy, some advanced safety features we’ve come to expect on newer cars won’t be there, and the newer versions that do have more modern features cost far more than the average used SUV or crossover. Find a Toyota Land Cruiser for sale

Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo is a longtime contributor who started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2002 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He’s well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to translate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations. Joe has worked for a number of outlets as... Read More about Joe Tralongo

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