Toyota Land Cruiser review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Toyota has reimagined what its go-anywhere Land Cruiser large SUV can be. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Review

Retro looks clothe cutting-edge technology in Toyota's new-era J250-series Land Cruiser. This go-almost-anywhere contender now has looks as capable as the mechanicals beneath, all as part of a complete redesign that sees it better ready to snare potential Land Rover Defender customers.


The Toyota Land Cruiser is arguably the world's most iconic off-road driving model line. Switches between generations have happened rarely since the original version, the Toyota BJ, was first launched in 1961. Since then, 11.3 million Land Cruisers have been sold across 170 countries, with the most recent J150 version launched back in 2009. Back then, there were two sizes of Land Cruiser but Toyota no longer imports the larger one - the current J300 model - in Western Europe. Still, to compensate, this latest J250 design, announced in Autumn 2023, is a fraction larger than its predecessor - and quite a lot more sophisticated.

There are plenty of headlines here, retro looks clothing an all-new body-on-frame GA-F platform. Plus new to the line are advances like electric power steering and a clever disconnecting anti-roll bar system for even more capable off road prowess. There's also stronger standards of safety and even the introduction of 48V mild hybrid electrification. Sounds promising.

Driving Experience

This J250 Land Cruiser is just about the only new-era model we can think of that could be excused a switch to full scale electrification. You don't want to be worrying about Hybrid electronics when you're crossing the Zambezi. And you certainly don't want to be looking for a charging station. You might have hoped though, that Toyota would have redesigned the trusty 2.8-litre diesel that the previous J150 model campaigned with for most of its production life. As it is, the Japanese engineers have contented themselves with merely embellishing it with a 48V mild hybrid system (which won't arrive until some time after launch). This unit is at least paired to a new 8-speed auto gearbox and the 4WD 201bhp powertrain will tow up to 3,500kg.

If ever a Land Cruiser switched to the kind of monocoque construction used by more tarmac- orientated large SUVs, it wouldn't really be a Land Cruiser. This one sticks with a traditional body-on-frame architecture, but mates it to the brand's latest GA-F platform. The idea of course is to preserve this model's legendary off road prowess, further enhanced here with greater wheel articulation. Another key improvement in this regard is the disconnecting front anti-roll bar, which can be disengaged via a button on the dash to give maximum wheel articulation on really testing trails. The Multi-Terrain Select drive mode system's been enhanced too, the set-up adapting vehicle performance to suit various kinds of off-road conditions. And there's a new Multi-Terrain Monitor, which uses a high resolution camera and display to give the driver a clear view of the area immediately around and beneath the vehicle.

Where this J250-generation Land Cruiser really had to improve though, is away from the rough stuff. Toyota somehow had to make it a better tarmac tool without compromising this model line's renowned off-road ability. And the developments in that regard sound promising. Combined body and frame rigidity is up by 30% aided by that new platform, which should reduce body roll and contribute greatly to handling responsiveness. Toyota claims the new electric power steering system is more feelsome too.

Design and Build

A few decades ago, Land Cruiser design went through a compromised 'urban jungle'-style phase which thankfully has been dispensed with here as part of a chunky, tough 'back to origins' theme. SUVs as varied as Suzuki's Jimny, Jeep's Wrangler and Land Rover's Defender have proved the merit of this approach and this boxy J250 Land Cruiser model embraces it thoroughly. Measuring 4,920mm long and 1,870mm tall, it's slightly larger than its predecessor, with strong horizontal lines and headlights that are retro round in the initial 'First Edition' variant but which will be rectangular in models produced thereafter.

Off-road performance is aided by short overhangs, sculpted corners and a narrowed lower body. Body parts have been designed for easy replacement in the event of damage. Just as important of course is what you can't see - a bit of old (traditional body-on-frame SUV architecture) and a lot of new (the brand's latest GA-F platform).

At the wheel, there are big screens for both instrumentation and infotainment, but there's plenty of chunky switchgear too, designed so it can be easily used in rough terrain. There's a horizontally arranged instrument panel and the usual lofty Land Cruiser seating position. There's a choice of 5 or 7-seat configurations and both deliver a spacious second row, aided by lengthy 2,850mm wheelbase length. If you're delivering vital supplies to insurgents in Fallujah, you'll be glad of the enormous boot too.

Market and Model

This J250 generation Land Cruiser will be launched in stages. First up will be a five-door 'First Edition' model (visually distinguished by its round headlights) which will be limited to just 3,000 examples across Europe. It'll get some exclusive paint finishes (in two-tone 'Sand' and 'Smoky Blue') and be based around the long wheelbase body shape. It's not yet known whether Toyota will import either the short wheelbase body style or the previous commercial vehicle variants. Once Land Cruiser sales get into full swing, you can expect a baseline trim level starting from not too far above the £50,000 mark, but the 'First Edition' derivative will cost considerably more than that.

Early versions of this design will be sold with a straightforward version of the usual 2.8-litre diesel, but after the first year and a half of production, a 48V mild hybrid version of this powerplant will be offered. Because of the switch to electric power steering, Toyota can now offer this car with more of its 'Safety Sense' active safety and driver assistance features; specifically, the brand's 'Lane Tracing Assist' system. As for luxury equipment, well to better target the Land Rover Defender, there's a clear shift up-market, with top spec trim levels offering features like a full-length glass roof, plush leather upholstery, multi-zone climate control and a wrap-around digital display hosting a new generation infotainment system.

Cost of Ownership

Exemplary engine efficiency might not be of paramount significance to likely Land Cruiser owners, but it's pretty important for Toyota to achieve it here if this J250 model isn't to unacceptably drag down the brand's overall fleet CO2 average in Europe. To start with, don't expect the returns to be that much different from those of the previous generation model (29.4mpg on the combined cycle and up to 250g/km of CO2). But things should improve in that regard when the 2.8-litre diesel becomes available with the company's 48V mild hybrid tech later on in production. That's still a way off what you'd get from cheaper but less rugged rivals like Kia's Sorrento and Hyundai's Santa Fe, but it's about the same as you'd get from comparably tough competitors like Land Rover's Defender.

As before, exemplary depreciation should offset some of the big diesel's thirst. If the residuals from the previous model are carried forward, you can expect around 52% of your original purchase price back after the usual three year standard ownership period. That's thanks to the relatively low numbers sold, this car's bullet-proof quality and its loyal following. As before, maintenance costs can be kept down thanks to a fixed price servicing plan. And if you regularly service the car at a franchised Toyota dealer, your warranty can be extended for as long as 10 years. But if the previous reliability of this model line is carried forward, you'll almost certainly never need it.


If you're the kind of customer who'd really like a Jeep Wrangler or a Land Rover Defender, we think you'll also really like this J250-series Land Cruiser. Like its predecessors, there's a proven bullet-proof go-anywhere feel to this Toyota that these two rivals can't quite emulate. But what's new here is that this new-era version combines that with modern standards of luxury, safety and infotainment. Of course, it still won't handle like a more compromised large luxury SUV would on tarmac, but as long as you're not throwing the thing about, that should hardly matter.

It might seem a bit anachronistic to continue to engineer the range around diesel power and basically the same engine the Land Cruiser's used since the Noughties, but that remains the most suitable engine for the kind of car this is. And if you ever need to cross the Gobi desert, it'll keep going long after comparable powerplants in a Wrangler or a Defender have waved the white flag. That's the kind of capability you're buying here. For loyal Toyota Land Cruiser folk, there really is no substitute.

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