We Drove the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser. This is What You Need to Know

The Toyota Land Cruiser was brought back in 2024 as a more sophisticated off-roader, with more capability, more luxuries and better MPG. What is it missing? A 3rd row.

Credit: Kymri Wilt

Our Favorite Old Gal Is Back, Fresh and More Energetic Than Ever

Back in the day, when Millennials were hauled around in SUVs from one activity to another, it was often in the rear seat of a Toyota Land Cruiser. Whether in the center row or 3rd row—or for the lucky few, the front seat—the Land Cruiser provided wide windows to watch the landscape fly by, room for backpacks, a Gameboy or a book, and for the driver, lots of capability when the weather turned challenging. 

The Toyota Land Cruiser was a staple in suburban driveways, a go-to for the space, reliability and muscularity of a beefy SUV. So, we all cried a little (or a lot) when Toyota took the Land Cruiser off the North American market a few years ago. Luckily, it was a short wait before the 2024 Land Cruiser made its return. 

Related: 2025 Toyota 4Runner First Look: It’s Back and It’s Awesome 

A Ront View Of The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser
A front view of the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser. Photo: Scotty Reiss Credit: Kymri Wilt

Not Your Mom’s Land Cruiser

There’s good and bad news here: On the good side, the Land Cruiser is more stylish and capable than ever. Toyota gave it a lovely makeover with a new look on the front and rear, a whole new look inside, new technology and a new hybrid-powered engine that generates more power from less fuel. The new 4-cylinder hybrid generates 326 HP and gets 22 MPG. That’s a bit less power, down from 381 HP, that the last model generated from a V8 engine, but it got 14 MPG. 

In not-so-good news, the Land Cruiser now has 2 rows instead of 3; and while there are cup holders, air vents and hand grips in the cargo area that insinuate there may be a 3rd row option, for now there’s not. It’s strictly a 5-seater. 

Toyota dialed back some things in the 2024 Land Cruiser—that 3rd row, mostly—so that it can do what it does even better. It has a very large cargo area, though it’s impeded somewhat by the hybrid battery that sits atop the rear wheels and 4WD system, so the cargo area has a raised floor. It has more off-road capability and a comfortable cabin for 5. 

And it’s surprising on the trail. Sort of. It’s not a surprise that the Land Cruiser is incredibly capable, but it was a surprise just how far Toyota went to make it so. 

Related: My Whirlwind Romance With the 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

The Rear Of The Toyota Land Cruiser
The rear of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s New For 2024?

The new model has been completely redesigned with a nod toward the heritage look and shape of Land Cruiser. It’s tall, boxy and muscular. Each of the 3 model options, 1958, Land Cruiser and First Edition, has the same hybrid motor, 4WD system and up to 6,000 lbs of tow capacity. 

The 1958 model, which starts at $55,950, model is more off-road focused than luxury; it has cloth upholstery, a smaller 8” multimedia screen and no sunroof option. 

The Land Cruiser model (no specific model designation here…) starts at $61,950 and includes leatherette upholstery, a larger 12” multimedia screen, enhanced exterior camera views, and several upgrade package options. 

The First Edition, which has a limited run of 5,000 and is priced from $74,950, adds more luxury, including leather seats, cool box, head-up display, and a sunroof. 

Related: 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander First Drive: A Roomy, Luxe 3-row SUV That’s Easy on Gas

Off Road Modes In The Land Cruiser
Off road modes in the Land Cruiser. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Taking the 2024 Land Cruiser Off-Road

For our test drive, we only took it on dirt trails—up hills, through mud and water, and over blind hills. We used all the 4WD settings: 4 high (4H) for driving at a reasonable speed on low, flat trails; 4 low (4L) for muddy hills and rocky riverbeds; and crawl control—essentially low-speed cruise control for off-roading—to climb up and down steep hills

We also relied heavily on the Land Cruiser’s camera system, which let us see just what was under each wheel and around the car. With an SUV this big, it’s really helpful to see if there are rocks or any ground at all under your wheels when you can’t see anything in front of you but the sky. 

The Land Cruiser was really fun on the flat trails. We drove at decent speeds, about 30 MPH, and it handled perfectly. I had complete control, and with the nice high ground clearance, every rut and rock was taken in stride. 

But it was impressive on nature’s version of a roller coaster: rocky, hilly trails like you might find in mountainous recreation areas or places like Tahoe or Moab: ambitious trails that until now were only for Jeeps and Broncos. With our cameras and some brave trail spotters, we were able to climb very steep hills and slowly crawl down the other side. 

And then we did it again. And again. And again. Each time, we engaged 4H for longer, flatter stretches, 4L for challenging terrain that needed the system’s precision, and used the locking differentials and crawl control when they helped us. Though honestly, we probably could have made it through most of the trail simply in 4H.

Drive Modes In The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser
Drive modes in the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Drive Mode System For Just What You Need

Back in the day, 4WD systems were sort of simple: You put the transmission in neutral, moved the 4WD shifter to 4L, put it back in drive, and that was it. Things like locking differentials and sway bars were added by a modifier after purchase if you really needed that capability (mostly by off-roading enthusiasts). But now, carmakers like Toyota realize the need and opportunity and add these features as part of the package. But designing the control systems — the buttons and dials— can be a challenge. There’s a lot to encompass. 

Toyota’s answer is to put all functions under one panel. At the top is the Mode Select dial; from there, buttons allow you to select a drive mode: On-road, off-road, and crawl. Tap the Drive Mode button, then dial the mode select for your on-road driving setting—normal, sport, or eco. Tap the MTS or the multi-terrain select button, and use the dial to select the 4WD mode you want, such as sand, mud, or snow. Tap the DAC Crawl, or downhill assist control/crawl control, and use the mode dial to select a lower or higher engine speed. For each mode, you’ll see the selector pop up on the driver display. 

The Front Seat In The Toyota Land Cruiser
The front seat in the Toyota Land Cruiser. Photo: Scotty Reiss Credit: Scotty Reiss

What It Feels Like Behind the Wheel of the Land Cruiser 

I have to admit, at first, I was a little nervous (I always am). Just walking from the shuttle drop-off point to the Land Cruiser’s parking area to take it off-road was a hike, a 60-foot rise that had me breathing just a bit harder. 

Then, we hopped in and were told to follow the signs. What?!? No human arrows or guides to take us along the trail? I had to figure that Toyota had confidence in us, even if the craggy, dusty land around us looked more challenging than I was used to. 

We headed out in 4H and followed the trail for a bit; staying on trail is the key to off-roading, and it’s pretty clear (usually…) where you need to keep your wheels. Soon, we met up with our first spotter, who coached me to put the transmission in neutral and shift into 4L, lock the front and rear differentials to keep the wheels moving in tandem, and disconnect the sway bar, or stability bar, as Toyota calls it; this allows the car’s suspension to have a bit more flexibility as it climbs the trail. 

From there, I put it back into drive, and we were off: climbing down a rise and up the next to a blind turn at the top of the hill. Over and over, we thanked our spotters and the cameras on the multimedia screen.

My Drive Partner Kymri And I In The Toyota Land Cruiser
My drive partner Kymri and I in the Toyota Land Cruiser. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is For

This fan-favorite SUV has grown from a family-focused SUV to one for big kids and adults with a sense of adventure. With full-time 4WD and all the functions of a true 4WD off-roader, this is more for campers, trail riders, and hill climbers than for suburban families who want capability in snow and mud season. 

Though, the Land Cruiser’s heritage looks and sharp modern features may sway some to pay for features they will never use because it just looks so good. 

Here’s who this car best suits: 

  • Off-road enthusiasts who live for the trail 
  • Buyers who want all that capability, just in case
  • Drivers who need 4WD most of the time
  • 4WD drive fans who will appreciate improved MPG 
  • Small families 
  • Parents who distinctly DON’T want carpool duties 
  • Families who camp or overland
  • Pet parents who need a sizable rear seat for their fur babies
The Rear Seat Is Wide But Not Overly So
The rear seat is wide but not overly so. Photo: Scotty Reiss

How Will Kids Car Seats Fit?

While the Land Cruiser is not the family car it once was, it will still work for families who need 2 or perhaps even 3 child car seats. The Land Cruiser should easily fit a rear-facing child car seat behind the passenger’s seat; when set for me, and I’m 5’8”, we had 32” seat back to seat back, enough for a rear facing car seat. 

Forward-facing seats, booster seats, and even three across should easily fit, though the space is tight for maneuvering seats and kids. 

The Rear Cargo Area In The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser
The rear cargo area in the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser. Photo: Scotty Reiss

She’s Back, and We’re Glad, Even If She’s Not the Same Old Gal

We were excited to hear of the return of the Land Cruiser for 2024. And then, disappointed; we’d always thought of this as a family-focused 3-row SUV. 

But it’s been reborn as a more capable off-roader, with more luxuries in the more expensive trims. It still has room for (most) everyone and everything in an evolved, more grown-up way. And it delivers the fun and capability we have come to hope for or expect in our more evolved, more grown-up SUVs.  

Disclosure: I was a guest of Toyota for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss