2024 Land Cruiser: It’s Back, As A Hybrid

Toyota is reintroducing Land Cruiser for ’24 as a hybrid-only premium SUV for on-road and off-road.

David Kiley, Senior Editor

April 16, 2024

6 Min Read
’24 Land Cruiser less costly than previous model, more fuel efficient.

SAN DIEGO – A decade ago, the Toyota Land Cruiser had become a pretty dumb idea for a new SUV. Sure, it would take you through a dry creek bed if that was your thing. And it would be pretty great navigating a fresh-snow-covered dirt road in Vermont. But it also was a wallet-buster at $80,000.

You could buy two truly loaded 4-door Wranglers then for the same price.

The Land Cruiser, Toyota’s longest-selling nameplate, left the U.S. market in 2021. But it’s back in showrooms now with a new look, offered only with a hybrid powertrain and at a price ladder that starts under $60,000. Toyota has truly hit the reset button on Land Cruiser.

Land Cruiser is built on the TNGA-F global truck platform that is shared with Tundra, Sequoia and Tacoma, and is now offered as just as a 2-row SUV, replacing the old model that was longer and offered three rows.

Off-road Chops

The first version we tested is the 1958 (the year Land Cruiser launched in the U.S.). And we are going up a steep off-road, rutted, rock-filled course before we even get to test its manners on-road.

The first thing to say is that the new Land Cruiser remains body-on-frame. At a time when even Land Rover has switched to unibody, Toyota sees an opportunity to not only capture the growing off-roading/overlanding audience, but to also reassert its credentials globally in the Middle East, Australia, Africa, South America and generally where paved roads can be elusive.

A body-on-frame vehicle generally is stiffer than unibody construction, allowing for more precise and steadier rock crawling, for instance. The center and rear-locking differentials are standard for all trims. The electronic locking rear differential splits the power 50/50 to the rear wheels for improved traction and reduced wheel spin on rough terrain. And as we ascend a pretty steep sandy-dirt hill, while hitting some ruts that catch the rear skid plate, we have no wheel spin – just a sure-footed climb.

This 1958, unaccountably, does not have the available front stabilizer bar disconnect mechanism, which increases suspension flex with the push of a button. Multi-Terrain Select, now functional in both 4WD High and 4WD Low, offers adjustable settings to help control wheel spin on a variety of terrains, such as Mud, Dirt and Sand. We try all three modes, though conditions only merit the dirt and sand choices. Okay, Toyota isn’t going to give us a trail this SUV can’t traverse, but it still seems impressive going over just about anything we’d encounter on our own.

We engage Land Cruiser’s updated Crawl Control function, a low-speed, off-road cruise control feature with five selectable speeds. Downhill Assist Control is another standard off-road feature that helps the driver navigate descents by limiting the speed of the vehicle. We use all of it. And considering the trail, while manicured a bit in advance to keep the sharp sides of rocks facing down, it’s no baby walk. And Land Cruiser’s front overhang has been decreased from the previous version for greater approach, providing up to a 31-degree approach, a 25-degree breakover and 22-degree departure angles.

The 1958 trim ($55,950) features cloth interior, round headlights and a heritage grille. Given the cult following of the Land Cruiser, Toyota missed an opportunity here to make more of the throwback thing. The dash and the rest of the black interior is pretty much the same. And it’s a snooze.

The core Land Cruiser ($61,950) is expected to account for about 75% of sales. There is also a Land Cruiser First Edition ($74,950), allocated to be just 5% of sales, and the ’24s are all spoken for.

The core Land Cruiser has rectangular LED headlamps, power heated and ventilated leatherette-trimmed front seats, power liftgate and a 10-speaker sound system. Additional trail features you don’t get to buy on the 1958 include color selectable LED fog lights, Stabilizer Disconnect Mechanism, Multi-Terrain Select and a Multi-Terrain Monitor system. That last one shows what’s in front of you and around you when ascending hills you can’t see over or beyond.


Modern Comforts

A new 8-in. (20.3-cm) or available 12.3-in. (31.2-cm) multimedia touchscreen is the interface for Toyota’s Audio Multimedia system, which supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and pairs with the available 14-speaker JBL audio system. Wireless charging is available. Dual USB-C charging ports are in the front row, as well as for second-row passengers. There are two more USB-Cs available and a standard 2,400-watt AC inverter house-type plug (120V) in the cargo area, as well. A 12.3-in. digital gauge cluster with four different styles and customizable widgets is also available.

The dashboard is appropriately chunky looking, with a meaty gear shifter in the center console. No rotary dials or fussy little stalks on the steering column. To go all-out, the Land Cruiser offers a Premium Package that includes leather-trimmed heated and ventilated power front seats with lumbar support and driver memory features, the JBL premium audio system, digital rearview mirror, head-up display, illuminated entry, power moonroof, center console cool box and two additional USB-C ports in the cargo area.

The First Edition includes all the features in the Premium Package and the retro round LED headlamps, unique 18-in. wheels and the “First Edition” logo embossed on the door panels as well as the roof rack, rock rails and front skid plate.

Hybrid Only

All Land Cruisers come with the turbocharged i-Force Max hybrid powertrain, an excellent and versatile system found across the lineup, mated to a full-time 4-wheel-drive system, producing 326 hp and 465 lb.-ft. of torque (630 Nm). There is an electric motor in the bell housing between the turbocharged 2.4L and the 8-speed automatic transmission. The ’24 gets an estimated 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km), which seems like small beer versus a non-hybrid powertrain, but Toyota notes that is a higher combined fuel-economy rating than any previous edition. Towing capacity is rated at 6,000 lbs. (2,722 kg).

On-Road Manners

On-road, where most drivers will be with this SUV, the ’24 Land Cruiser drives fine. The iForce Max is invisible and more than adequate. While zipping around hilly roads near the Mexican border there is no hesitation, laboring or gear wandering. The high roofline, though, does make for some head and shoulder sway, even when just going over some jouncy road surface and around corners. We tried changing drive modes to see if that helped but to no avail. It’s not excessive but seems correctable going forward.

Toyota should be commended for putting a hybrid stake in the ground. While other automakers, such as General Motors and Ford, are scrambling to develop hybrid versions of its vehicles while consumers dither over purchasing battery-electrics, Toyota has more than a dozen to offer.

And as hybrid demand spikes, Toyota stands to cash in while many of its biggest rivals are running around playing catch-up.

About the Author(s)

David Kiley

Senior Editor, WardsAuto

David Kiley is an award winning journalist. Prior to joining WardsAuto, Kiley held senior editorial posts at USA Today, Businessweek, AOL Autos/Autoblog and Adweek, as well as being a contributor to Forbes, Fortune, Popular Mechanics and more.

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like