A blue 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is shown driving off-road near water after visiting a Toyota dealer.

Welcome Back, Land Cruiser

2024 is a big year for Toyota SUV fans. After a three-year hiatus, the Toyota Land Cruiser is returning to your local Toyota dealership. Just a few years ago, the Land Cruiser quietly disappeared. Known for being the perfect blend of luxury and off-road capability in one very sharp-looking SUV, many hearts were broken by the removal of the Land Cruiser from Toyota’s lineup.

But it turns out Toyota had something very special in mind. After a few years of serious reflection and rediscovery, the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser emerges as something that is both brand new and true to the heritage of this very special SUV. Check out what we can expect from the return of the Land Cruiser.

What Happened to the Land Cruiser?

Many drivers tend to think of SUVs as a more recent phenomenon, but the Land Cruiser has been in the United States as long as Toyota itself. Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. was established in Hollywood, California, on October 31, 1957. In 1958, the lone American Toyota dealership sold 287 Toyopet Crown sedans and one Land Cruiser.

Originally, the Toyota Land Cruiser was developed as an all-terrain vehicle for the Japanese military. Dubbed the Toyota Jeep BJ, the earliest iteration of the Land Cruiser was the king of low-speed torque, becoming the first vehicle to reach the sixth trail checkpoint on Mt. Fuji in July 1951. Though the Japanese military eventually decided to go with a license-built version of the Willys Jeep from Mitsubishi, the Japanese National Police Agency and other agencies disagreed, ordering fleets of the Toyota model for their use.

While Land Cruiser sales were slow in the first year, a few cosmetic changes in the early 1960s gathered the attention of Americans. The tall, flat white roof and large wrap-around windows set this SUV apart from the competition. Furthermore, the Land Cruiser provided 125 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, carefully controlled with a two-speed transfer case. All of this was practically unheard of in the 1960s, establishing the Land Cruiser as a truly unique vehicle. Between 1960 and 1965, this newly styled and re-engineered vehicle was the top-selling Toyota model in the US. By 1968, Toyota had built over 100,000 Land Cruisers; by 1973, that number had reached 300,000.

The 1990s marked the beginning of the SUV boom, and Toyota knew that it would need to work harder than ever to differentiate the Land Cruiser from the competition. In a decision that was ground-breaking for the time, Toyota added coil spring front suspension, air conditioning, and leather seats as well as full-time four-wheel drive with a locking center differential, making the Land Cruiser a luxurious off-roading vehicle. The Land Cruiser continued pushing the envelope as both a luxury SUV and an off-roading vehicle for decades. Then, in 2022, it was quickly and quietly dropped from Toyota’s lineup.

A close-up of the front-end on a blue 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is shown.

The Return of the (All-New) Land Cruiser

Many of us get a little anxious when a movie or television show is rebooted. Is the new version going to be as good? Will it still have all the things we loved about the original? We get the same feeling when our favorite cars are returned to the market, too. However, in the case of the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, these fears are completely without cause.

There are some significant differences, however. First, the Land Cruiser is now a smaller vehicle and no longer offers a big V8 engine. Instead, power is supplied by a standard i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain. This powertrain combines a 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a battery pack and electric motor. Together, this system provides a hearty 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, which is actually more torque than the old 5.7L V8. It also gets an estimated 23 MPG combined compared to the 14 MPG combined of the 2021 Land Cruiser.

Toyota is offering the 2024 Land Cruiser in three trims. The Land Cruiser First Edition is a limited run of just 5,000 models and celebrates the past and present of the brand. This version is built for off-roading, from its roof rack to its rock rails. It also includes key luxury features, such as leather heated and ventilated power seats. The base Land Cruiser 1958 also pays homage to its history with round LED headlamps and a heritage grille. Despite being the base model, it also includes creature comforts like an eight-inch multimedia monitor, a tri-zone climate control system, and heated seats.

The middle “Land Cruiser” trim upgrades not only to the off-roading aspects of the model but also to the interior. The multimedia monitor in this grade grows to 12.3 inches, a 10-speaker sound system is added, and the SofTex seats are heated, ventilated, and power-adjustable. Standard on all three trims is Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, a suite of driver assistance technology including Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Road Sign Assist, and Proactive Driving Assist.

Does the Land Cruiser Still Have Off-Road Chops?

Off-roading technology and engineering have come leaps and bounds over the past decades. Though the Land Cruiser was only gone for three years, how does today’s version compare––especially with a hybrid powertrain? Toyota clearly knew what it was doing when it redesigned the 2024 Land Cruiser because the new model not only met the competition––it exceeded all driver expectations.

Both the Land Cruiser and First Edition trims include a front stabilizer bar disconnect system with a button that allows drivers to increase suspension articulation. Designed with an approach angle of up to 31 degrees and a maximum departure angle of 22 degrees, the Land Cruiser has a maximum ground clearance of 8.7 inches. Rugged features like a locking rear differential, underbody skid plates, and front recovery hooks are standard across the lineup.

Additionally, the 2024 Land Cruiser has been engineered for off-road savviness, with a Multi-Terrain Select system that is available in both 4WD-High and 4WD-Low modes. This system provides greater control on many different types of terrain, with modes for Mud, Dirt, and Sand. All trims are equipped with Crawl Control, which allows drivers to focus on obstacles while this function maintains speed and traction. A Multi-Terrain Monitor that displays the trail ahead on the infotainment touchscreen is also available for greater awareness while adventuring.

The black and brown interior and dash is shown in a 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Yesterday, Today, and Always…the Toyota Land Cruiser

After a short absence, Toyota’s longest-running model has returned to American roads and trails. However, the 2024 Land Cruiser is both a return and a rebirth of the iconic model. While some things haven’t changed, like the rugged body outline and utility-meets-luxury attitude of the Land Cruiser, some things are very different, including the hybrid engine and the smaller size of the new vehicle. Many of these adjustments have clearly improved the model, such as the new off-roading-focused design and technology that make the Land Cruiser such a mighty adventurer.

Whether you first drove a Land Cruiser in the early days or are brand new to the brand, the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is a very special model. Not only does it mark a highly-anticipated return of a classic vehicle, but it demonstrates the power of technology, design, and engineering in creating a vehicle that does everything very, very well.