Whenever a vehicle becomes legendary in off-road circles, you can be sure that this title is hard-earned.
In the case of the Toyota Land Cruiser, its reputation has been proven on every continent on the planet, every market in the world, and a few dozen civil wars in Africa and Asia. Although it is almost 70 years old, the Land Cruiser is still on the top of Toyota’s SUV food chain and is still a remarkable model in its own right.
Early Toyota Land Cruisers
Even though it started life as a direct copy of Jeep, very soon, Toyota Land Cruiser has developed its own identity as an extremely capable, affordable, tough, and modular vehicle for any purpose.
American buyers fondly remember the FJ40s of the 60s and 70s. Still, after that, Toyota decided to move Land Cruiser into a more grown-up SUV market, smoothening its rough edges, making it bigger, more powerful, and better equipped.
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser
Fast forward a couple of decades, and we have the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser as one of the rare, if not the only, luxury SUV which can hold its own on rough terrain. Even though the latest generation of Toyota’s most prominent SUV has grown in size, bulk and price, it is still true off-roader deep down, hidden under the soft leather seats, comfy ride, and all the creature comforts.
Some of folks already recognized that the 2021 Land Cruiser and 2021 Lexus LX 570 are very similar. They are pretty much identical mechanically, but the Lexus is far uglier and aimed at people who will never take it off-road. That is why we are concentrating on Land Cruiser and why this model is still relevant in the off-road community.
For several years, the sales number of Toyota Land Cruisers on the American market were pretty low, and official Toyota sources hinted that this model could be discontinued, even though the Lexus counterpart is a solid seller.
However, there are still a few thousand wealthy off-road enthusiast buyers who are ready to pay $85k for a base Land Cruiser every year. Yes, the high price was the biggest reason for the slow-selling of this generation. However, the 2021 Land Cruiser is worth the money since it offers a unique combination of luxury, power, and off-road capabilities.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Engine & Mechanicals
Under the hood is the mighty 5.7-liter V8 engine with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic with electronic systems and up/downhill assistance.
The rest of the drivetrain is pretty straightforward and consists of a full-time four-wheel-drive with a locking Torsen central differential for good measure. The layout is capable and proven, but the exciting thing is that Land Cruiser is built on high-tensile steel ladder chassis, which completes the picture.
In fact, it is one of only a few vehicles still produced with this feature, which gives the Land Cruiser exceptional off-road performance. The front suspension is independent and in the rear is a four-link suspension set up with a floating axle and stabilized bar.
What About the Design of This Truck?
Design-wise, the 2021 Land Cruiser shows its age since this generation is currently in its 13th production year. The significant refresh has been performed in 2018 and gave the old boxy look another lease on life.
To be frank, the Land Cruiser looks precisely as a dedicated full-size off-road vehicle should look – big, bulky, and a bit boxy but smooth. The curb weight is pretty respectable 2.6 tons, and tow capacity is 8,100 pounds, which is less than a full-size truck but far beyond the rest of the soft pseudo-off-road models.
The design shows its age mostly in the interior, and although Land Cruiser comes fully equipped from the start with big screens, premium sound system, leather, and wood, the dashboard design is screaming 2008.
One of the advantages of the standard Land Cruiser is its enormous interior space. The standard model comes with eight seats and a usable trunk, but you can remove the third row and get more room for the luggage if you want.
This Truck Really Shines on the Trail
However, even though it looks like a well-mannered road-going SUV, Land Cruiser really shines on the trail, and there where its construction, powerful engine, capable suspension, and KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) really shows its potential.
It is amazing how this big and heavy vehicle can move and climb when there is little traction, and it is even more astonishing how it transfers very little of the drama to the occupants. Thanks to the comfortable interior settings, driver and passengers are unaware of how hard Land Cruiser is working. This combination of comfort and off-road dominance is very rarely seen in the car world.
The 2021 Land Cruiser is offered in two variants – Standard and Heritage Edition. Although mechanically identical, Heritage Edition is $2000 more, and if you are in the market for a new Land Cruiser, we suggest you spend that couple of grand extra. This model comes with gold-plated 18-inch BBS rims, blackout trim, a cool-looking roof rack, and a five-seat configuration. This version is perfect for exploring the great outdoors since it is slightly better equipped for this task, and with a bigger boot and usable roof rack, it makes it a perfect overlanding vehicle.