2021 Toyota Land Cruiser

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
August 13, 2020

Buying tip

Without any options, the Land Cruiser’s a no-brainer. We’d pick a Heritage Edition for its wheels and a roof rack.

features & specs

Heritage Edition 4WD
13 city / 17 hwy
13 city / 17 hwy

The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser is a full-time four-wheel-drive icon with a handful of luxury touches.

The Toyota Land Cruiser SUV is an icon. Its go-anywhere, haul-anything attitude is a direct link between utility vehicles from the past and modern luxury SUVs of today. It’s nostalgic and useful in all the right ways, but it’s not as comfortable as models that have embraced luxury more than utility. 

Our 5.0 TCC Rating is completely average for anything but; the 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser is capable, rugged, and enviable. It’s just too thirsty and too expensive. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This Land Cruiser’s basic design dates back more than a decade by now, and the Land Cruiser’s name has been around for more than 60 years. This year, like last year, there’s a Land Cruiser Heritage Edition available with special wheels and badges—even though every Land Cruiser is a “heritage” model by now. 

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That’s because the Land Cruiser still uses a big 5.7-liter V-8 that’s slow and deliberate, but also powerful. All 381 horsepower comes on with the subtlety of a grenade, and its full-time four-wheel-drive system feels just as powerful. An 8-speed automatic handles shifting duties well, although it’s not at all capable of making the Bruiser efficient. 

Up to eight can fit within the Land Cruiser, but five is really a better idea. Regular Land Cruisers have a standard third row that’s cramped and not useful; Heritage Editions make that third row optional (and we think it’s better for it). 

Leather upholstery is standard. The same goes for active safety features and some luxury fittings. The Land Cruiser predates smartphones so don’t expect its infotainment system to understand those either. 

Toyota charges at least $86,910 for a well-equipped Land Cruiser—no trim levels, no powertrain choices, one option. Pick your paint and find the nearest dirt road to explore. 

Not many SUVs can go the same places a Land Cruiser can, but many SUVs can go just about every other place more comfortably. That’s the tradeoff.


2021 Toyota Land Cruiser


The Land Cruiser hasn’t changed since practically the Bush era. Burning Bush, perhaps.

Toyota isn’t keen to mess with success, and the longest-running nameplate in Toyota’s history in America won’t change much this year. It’s good looking but big, and we like its short overhangs. It’s a 5 for style. 

The Land Cruiser’s calling is off-road capability, and its tall ride height and short bumpers speak to that. It’s aerodynamically lousy but perfectly rugged. 

It has some modern touches: chrome and cameras, LED headlights and active safety gear, too. It has some heritage cues: a rear tailgate, and on Heritage Edition models, cool badges. 

Inside, the dash gets a giant 9.0-inch touchscreen but the rest of the interior can feel more cramped in darker colors. We suggest warmer brown leather. 

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2021 Toyota Land Cruiser


Few SUVs dream of capability like the Land Cruiser’s.

Despite our score, the Land Cruiser’s performance is impressive—off-road, we mean. 

Its 5.7-liter V-8 is mighty (and mighty thirsty) when the road ends, and the Land Cruiser’s even keel on the highway is a boon, too. It steers with all the eagerness of an old, lazy beagle and with even less engagement. It’s a 6 and no, we don’t feel good about that number either, until we recall what it’s like to drive on pavement.  

The 8-speed automatic teamed to the V-8 is well-behaved, but eager to upshift in the name of fuel economy. (It won’t win that battle, however.) 

The Land Cruiser is a full-time four-wheel-drive vehicle and it has every trick in the book. A solid rear axle, ladder frame, locking center differential, hill descent control, two-speed transfer case, tighter trail turning access—all of them. A trick suspension that pushes down on the wheels helps articulation and traction and makes the Land Cruiser more comfortable on the road too. 

Few machines are as capable as the Land Cruiser off-road—that’s what people pay for. The only problem: Some similarly priced SUVs are more comfortable on the road with nearly as much off-road capability. 

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2021 Toyota Land Cruiser

Comfort & Quality

Comfortable and spacious, but the Land Cruiser is eclipsed in luxury accommodations.

Comfort isn’t the Land Cruiser’s first mission, but it mostly succeeds anyway. It’s big inside, with up to three rows of seats that can seat up to eight, although not everyone will be comfortable. 

Starting from an average score of 5, the Land Cruiser gets points for the first- and second-row accommodations and a spacious cargo hold. It’s an 8. 

Every Land Cruiser leaves the factory with leather upholstery, but it lacks the finesse of similarly priced rivals. The front row is heated and cooled, all-day comfortable for long trips or trail riding. The second row is heated, too (but not cooled) and easily accessible. Two adults will comfortably fit, and three abreast is fine for normal to smaller adults. 

The third row is cramped and not easily accessible. It’s standard on Land Cruiser and available on the Heritage Edition models, but we don’t advise them for anything other than occasional use for children. If they’re not in use, they store in an awkward way that eats into available cargo space. 

With the third row upright, the Land Cruiser carries 16 cubic feet of cargo. With it packed away, that space grows to about 43 cubic feet, and with rows two and three stowed, the big Cruiser carries about 82 cubic feet. 

The Land Cruiser’s materials are good, but not for a truck that costs nearly $90,000. Every rival has better interior materials by now, it’s a consequence of the Land Cruiser’s relative age. 

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2021 Toyota Land Cruiser


There may not be a wall big enough to tangle with a Land Cruiser.

The Toyota Land Cruiser hasn’t been crashed in the name of safety ratings and that’s unlikely to change. We’ll withhold our rating here, too. 

It is equipped with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high beams. 

Outward vision in the hulking SUV is bearable, but a challenge. 

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2021 Toyota Land Cruiser


Toyota does the thinking for us: There are practically no options for the Land Cruiser.

There isn’t much we’d change on a 2021 Land Cruiser straight from the box. There isn’t much we can change either. 

The Land Cruiser touches all the right bases for a new car: automatic emergency braking, big 9.0-inch touchscreen, USB ports, and a moonroof, but skips smartphone compatibility software. It throws in luxury gear, too: heated and cooled front seats, leather upholstery, navigation, wireless smartphone charger, heated second-row seats, premium audio, and a cooler. We’d expect all of the above for the Cruiser’s $86,910 starting price, including destination. We’d also expect more. 

The Land Cruiser gets points above average for its touchscreen but loses two for its high price, relative to its competitors, and another for a dearth of options. It’s a 4. 

Shoppers considering a Land Cruiser have three options: regular or Heritage Edition ($2,330), a rear-seat entertainment package ($2,200), and paint color. Land Cruiser Heritage Editions can ditch the puny third row for more cargo capacity, which we endorse. 

The best Land Cruiser? It’s the one that gets used most often. 

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2021 Toyota Land Cruiser

Fuel Economy

Keep your expectations low because the Land Cruiser’s gas mileage is even lower.

Gas mileage is not a good reason to buy a Land Cruiser because it’s mostly, to completely, lousy. 

The EPA rates it at 13 mpg city, 17 highway, 14 combined. It’s one of the thirstiest new cars on sale today. 

And so what. 

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Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 4
Fuel Economy 2
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