Laurie – I owned an early production Toyota Land Cruiser back in 1974—goodness! 45 years ago! And it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the all-steel, manual transmission, no-frills 4WD vehicle I owned. Whether I barreled down the side street to the New York Public Library at a noisy, raging 12 mph, sending jaywalking pedestrians scattering, or went deep into the Back of Beyond, that car was utterly dependable, and I wish I still had it.
The 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser HE 4WD SUV-V8 has grown up, like me. The older we get, the ‘easier’ handling and luxury we crave, or something. This descendant of my beloved Landcruiser is just that. As I said, it looks nothing like its forebearer; in fact, one 2020 is probably equal in square foot space as two 1974’s. The 2020 gives a smooth ride, easy handling, and is engaged in low 4 and high 4 4WD at the twist of a knob. My old car? You had to get out, manually turn the wheel hubs, get in, and engage with a gearshift that stuck so hard you had to throw your entire weight behind it. The 2020 has a smooth suspension. My 1974 had no suspension, I mean it. Let’s compare the safety features of the 1974 vs the 2020. Easy. The 1974 had none. How about the sound system of the vintage Land Cruiser as compared to the 2020’s symphonic acoustics? No comparison, because there wasn’t one in my 1974—just an AM/FM radio that got one channel between them. If you were lucky.
Johnny’s going to tell you all about the 2020, but here’s what I want to say. Given that clunky, all-steel 1974 Toyota Landcruiser that I drove for 20 years and the opportunity to have one of these “gets you anywhere”, purely comfortable, beautifully designed 2020 models, which would I choose?
The 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser.
Because you only have one “first car” and that was mine.
Thank you, Sweetheart! What a great lead in to my own review of the 2020 Land Cruiser.
Yes, this is the iconic Toyota Land Cruiser, the 2020 4-wheel drive, SUV, with a V8 engine, and it’s in our driveway. I would like to tell you that it’s in our garage, but truth is, it didn’t fit in our garage. With that wonderful, all-purpose, storage rack on top of the Land Cruiser, it was just too tall to pull into our garage. Now that, my friend, is a big vehicle.
I have owned two Toyota trucks, both Tacoma’s. I really enjoyed them and have nothing but high praise for them. But there was a time when the three words, Toyota Land Cruiser, were spoken as if it were one long word. They were just all used together. I did some research and thought you might find the Road and Track paragraph on the Toyota Land Cruiser a good overview – “The Toyota Land Cruiser is an off-road legend, with a cult-like following that is nearly second-to-none. It’ll get you where you want to go, but more importantly, it’ll get you home at the end of the day. As the longest-produced vehicle every made by Toyota, the Land Cruiser has more than earned its place in automotive history and in the hearts and minds of many an off-road enthusiast.” The “longest produced vehicle by Toyota” they say. “How long?” you ask. Toyota says it this way, “The 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser has earned a loyal following from around the world. The product of over 60 years of global adventures, it’s a sophisticated blend of off-road prowess, on-road comfort and unparalleled refinement. It also offers seating for up to eight passengers; after all, adventures are best shared. And paying homage to the legends that came before is Land Cruiser Heritage Edition.” Heritage Edition, thus the HE in the description of our Land Cruiser. Over ’60 years’ of production is the answer to the longevity question. That’s a lot of proof of what a durable and acceptable mode of transportation the Land Cruiser really is.
Given where it came from, the 2020 with all the current bells and whistles, safety equipment, off road capability, extreme comfort and quiet, and refined, good looks is not a cheap vehicle. You are not just ‘buying something’, you are buying ‘into’ something – history, quality, and a vehicle built with a purpose. See this short clip I call the ‘Beast of the Serengeti’:
Compared to that clip, driving the 2020 Land Cruiser in AWD around a local farm was a stroll down the open road. The biggest impediment I had was the occasional stump to drive around and deep sand, which can be tricky, but was no match for the Land Cruiser. You can’t really see it in the picture, but the Land Cruiser has quite a bit of ground clearance, right at 2’ from ground to the driver’s floor board. On the Heritage Edition, Toyota has removed the running boards and lower chrome body moldings found on the standard Land Cruiser to give the HE a clean look and to help avoid damage when crawling over obstacles. That 2’ height or overcome to enter the vehicle is no small feat when one is vertically challenged to some extent like one half of the ‘Driving Me Crazy’ set, who wound up with a slightly strained knee. Toyota has conveniently provided a study hand hold just inside the door to help passenger or driver pull themselves into the cab.
Once in, you find comfort in the seating and convenience at your fingertips.
There were lots of pictures to choose from but I chose this one as a good example of the quality and functionality of the interior of the Land Cruiser.
Leather, seating for five, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, heated leather steering wheel, a premium Audio system with integrated Navigation and a 9” touch screen. Easy phone hookup and good quality communications using the speaker button on the steering wheel were there, too.
Because this Land Cruiser is a very specialized, well thought out and proven vehicle, it has very specific capabilities not found on other vehicles designed for off road conditions. Think of this, it has an 8-Speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i); sequential shift mode and uphill/downhill shift logic. This is not your granddad’s Land Cruiser. It also has a full-time 4WD system with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and Torsen limited-slip center differential with locking feature. For suspension, you have an independent double-wishbone front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar; 4-link rear suspension with coil springs, stabilizer bar and semi-floating axle, all of which means it rides smoother and better than its predecessors. My limited off-road experience would certainly support the smoothness of the ride. Land Cruisers since 2008 have also had Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) technology. This adjusts front and rear stabilizers based on a set of interconnected hydraulic cylinders. And here’s the cool part, this system will not engage during normal driving conditions, when hydraulic pressure is equal. In off-road conditions, KDSS activates when it senses that a wheel has dropped.
How about engine power? Our Land Cruiser was powered by a 5.7L V8 Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC)32 valve engine with Dual VVT-I, Variable Valve Timing with intelligence, which is an automobile variable valve timing technology developed by Toyota. The V8 gets 381 HP and 401 lbs. of foot torque. We are not looking for mpg here, we are going over mountains, so the 13 city and 17 highway mpg’s, with an average of 14 mpg, doesn’t make this a commuter vehicle. It’s made to go where the Lord and the animals can appreciate it.
And with new technology comes Safety. We have the Multi-Terrain Monitor – The Multi-terrain Monitor displays the vehicle surroundings when driving at low speeds, thus assisting off-road driving and helping the driver to check the vehicle surroundings.
• By pressing the VIEW switch, the display can be shown, or the display image can be changed between the front screen, wide view front & side monitor screen, side-front simultaneous display monitor screen, side-rear simultaneous display monitor screen or rear screen. (The screens that can be selected differ depending on the shift position and the transfer mode.)
• By referring to the guidelines shown on the front monitor screen, you can decide a driving line while assessing the distance to obstacles ahead of the vehicle and confirm the projected path, and by using the wide view front & side monitors, the side-front simultaneous display monitor and the side-rear simultaneous display monitor to identify objects in the vicinity or course of the tires, you can drive while preventing the vehicle from becoming stuck unexpectedly.
Is the cool or what? And then we have the safety features we have all come to expect in today vehicles – Toyota Safety Sense P: the Pre Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Land Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, Trailer Sway Control (TSC), 10 Air Bags, Front and Rear Parking Assist, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
I have to tell you that unless you are a pre-trained Land Cruiser user, you may need some time and effort to really figure out what many features are and how/when to use them. See some pictures below of features you would definitely want to know more about –
ECT – The ECT PWR button is not a turbo boost button. In fact, it doesn’t actually increase the power of your vehicle at all. It’s nothing more than a tow-haul mode button that can be used when pulling a trailer, carrying a heavy load, or when traveling over hilly areas of land like in the mountains. What that actually means is that it raises slightly the shift points of the transmission so that the engine will rev to a slightly higher RPM before shifting to the next gear. This ensures that when under stress the truck will not lug as the next gear engages.
Even though our Land Cruiser is an All Wheel Drive Vehicle, you can choose High and Low Four Wheel Drive using the dial just to the right of the gear shift.
With the Multi Terrain Select feature when you activate the Multi-Terrain Select feature, the system will regulate wheel spin, brake pressure and throttle response to increase traction. Simply select the driving mode that matches the terrain around you and the system will provide unrivaled traction. Selectable terrain modes include — Mud and Sand, Loose Rock, Rock and Dirt, Mogul and Rock modes.
In loose terrain such as Mud and Sand Mode, the system will allow for more wheel slip to help you navigate obstacles and gain unprecedented traction. When faced with rocky, uneven terrain, the system will apply more brake pressure to minimize wheel slip and function like a limited-slip differential. Regardless of what terrain you are faced with, the Toyota Multi-Terrain Select system will deliver exceptional performance.