The Toyota Land Cruiser is a series of all-terrain four-wheel drive vehicles built by Toyota from 1951 and still in production.
Popular for its reliability, longevity, and all-terrain prowess and available in various body styles such as hardtops, soft-tops, open-top, cab chassis, pickup, and station wagon.
With over 10 million units sold worldwide as of 2019, the LC is unstoppable.
Let’s briefly look at some of the Land Cruiser Series models, to learn what makes them such great cars, and how they have kept improving over the years.
1967 – 1979 (50 Series)
The Land Cruiser FJ55 was Toyota’s maiden 5-door station wagon, introduced in 1967. Its structure was robust and built for off-road durability and reliability.
Its modest and functional interior was durable and practical with features such as a glovebox, an AM radio, a cigarette lighter, fan and heater controls, and an instrument cluster.
The FJ was a six-seater as standard with a ten-seat configuration optional.
A 3.9-liter inline-6 petrol engine (Type F) was standard. A 4.2-liter (Type 2F) inline-6 engine was available from 1975. The engines were mated with a 3- or 4-speed manual transmission. 4WD was the standard drivetrain.
Competition came in the form of the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wagoneer, and Land Rover 109 series 2.
The 109 was a more serious competitor as they had many similarities and vied for the same markets.
Like the FJ55 the Series II 109 was also available in a five-door six-seat configuration as standard with optional extra seats at the rear. Its modest design and light aluminum body were a hit, but its off-roading capabilities could go toe-to-toe with the FJ55. The race was so tight that the buyer’s decision focused on availability and after-sales service.
1980 – 1988 (60 Series)
In 1980 the 60 Series Land Cruiser was introduced. It was a completely new design, it was a vehicle built with space efficiency and comfort in mind.
Its flexible interior enabled the car to be configured as a 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10-seater. Other new features included a well-organized dashboard, power steering, air conditioning, improved noise insulation, and an optional high roof.
Available powertrains were the 4.2-liter inline-6 (2F), the 3.4-liter inline-4 (3B) diesel, and the 4.0-liter inline-6 (2H) diesel.
The 60 Series biggest competitors were the Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Cherokee, and Land Rover Defender.
The Land Rover Defender was more formidable with more styling options that included a SWB or LWB model in a station wagon or pickup truck body style, something the Land Cruiser didn’t offer. Other notable features included air conditioning, front and rear coil springs that improved ride quality and axle articulation, a single-piece windscreen, wider wheel arches, and powerful petrol and diesel engines that improved their towing and off-roading capabilities.
The Prado is a light-duty full-size SUV model within the Toyota Land Cruiser lineup.
The Prado (LC150/LC250) was designed to cater to a market segment just below its larger sibling the LC200/LC300 Series.
The 200/300 series is the largest model in the range which is marketed as a ‘luxury’ brand as opposed to the 150 series Prado built for the wider market.
The LC 200/300 has always been superior in interior and exterior features, but recent Prado models have moved closer and closer to offering the best there is to offer depending on trim.
The Prado comes fitted with 4-liter petrol or diesel engines, unlike the 200/300 Series that comes with bigger V8 or V6 engines.
The 200/300 Series being the top-spec model in the lineup is much more expensive than the Prado.
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1989 – 1997 (80 Series)
In 1989, Toyota unveiled the Land Cruiser 80 Series—a completely new car, with new styling, improved comfort, and safety technologies.
New features included ABS, Airbags, front and rear coil springs, and full-time 4WD.
It was available in a five-door configuration. Its facial features dual squared-off headlights and a grille with a “TOYOTA” script.
Its state-of-the-art interior is quiet with seven comfortable seats in a 2+3+2 configuration.
A 4.0-liter inline-6 (3F) petrol engine was standard. A 4.5-liter (1FZ) petrol and a 4.2-liter (1HZ, 1HD-T turbocharged, and 1HD-FT turbocharged) diesel inline-6 engines were available. These engines were mated with either a 4-speed manual/automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission.
The 80-Series competitors were the Mitsubishi Pajero, Ford Explorer, and Range Rover Classic.
The Mitsubishi Pajero was more competitive as it offered most of the features available on the Land Cruiser, but it was also cheaper than the rest of the competitors.
The Pajero like the 80-Series had a state-of-the-art interior with seven seats in a 2+3+2 configuration.
The Pajero was available in either a SWB (Hard Top or Canvas Top), or LWB (Semi High Roof or High Roof) Wagon unlike the 80-Series only available in LWB.
With its ground-breaking Super Select 4WD, electronic shock absorbers, and Multi-Mode ABS the Pajero ws good at off-roading with comfort.
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1998 – 2006 (100 Series)
In 1998 Toyota unveiled the 100-Series Land Cruiser.
Its interior was more spacious and luxurious. Standard features include cloth upholstery, air-conditioning, and high-end audio. Available features include leather upholstery, climate control, a sunroof, a DVD player, and a navigation system.
Underneath, it’s fitted with a front-independent double-wishbone and torsion bar spring system. The top-spec VX Limited was fitted with an Active Height Control (AHC) with the Skyhook TEMS which improved its ride quality and its off-road capability.
The standard powerplant was a 4.7-liter V8 DOHC 32-valve (2UZ-FE) petrol, with a turbocharged 4.2-liter inline-6 24-valve (1HD-FTE) direct-injection EFI diesel available. These engines were mated with either a 4- or 5-speed automatic, or 5-speed manual transmission. The standard drivetrain was a full-time 4WD with a sub-transmission.
The 100-Series competitors were the Range Rover P38A, the Mercedes G-Class, and the BMW X5.
At the time, BMW owned Land Rover, and with the P38A and X5, the 100-Series had serious competition.
The P38A came with a larger, more powerful, but less efficient 4.0/4.6-liter petrol engine. Its seats were comfortable, and its luxurious cabin felt more airy due to its large windows, but with less sitting capacity.
Underneath, it was fitted with coilovers or air suspensions. Models with air suspensions were unreliable.
Price-wise, the Range Rover, BMW, and G-Class were much more expensive than the 100-Series which is more robust and reliable.
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2007 – 2020 (200 Series)
In 2007 the Land Cruiser 200 Series was unveiled. Its redesigned frame structure improved its durability, rigidity, interior comfort, and collision safety.
Available features and technologies included a heated steering wheel and seats, USB ports, leather upholstery, a high-end audio system, a quiet and comfortable cabin, smart entry/start, four-zone climate control, and 10 airbags.
A 4.7-liter V8 (2UZ-FE) petrol engine was standard. A turbocharged 4.5-liter V8 (1VD-FTV) diesel engine or a 5.7-liter V8 (3UR-FE) petrol engine were available. These engines were mated with a 5-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission.
The “crawl control” feature automatically maintains a very low speed (crawl) when driving on challenging terrains such as sand, rocks, or steep hills.
The biggest competitors of the 200-Series were the Range Rover L30, Audi Q7, and Mercedes GL Class.
The Range Rover is a pioneer and a mainstay in the luxury SUV class, and for years has been the Land Cruiser’s arch-rival.
It has a soft, smooth, quiet, and luxurious interior, and is built with an all-aluminum monocoque and four-wheel independent air suspensions which improve its on-road comfort and off-road traction.
The standard powerplant was a powerful turbocharged 3.6-liter V8 diesel.
Although the Range Rover is appealing mostly as a status symbol, the 200-Series had more overall appeal due to its reliability, spacious interior, robustness, and price.
2021 – Present (300 Series)
In 2021 Toyota unveiled the Land Cruiser 300 Series. It was built on a new light and strong TNGA-F platform with the spirit of “durability, reliability, and off-road prowess” in mind.
It features plenty of driver-assistance systems and cutting-edge technologies with improved safety and connectivity.
The front and rear bumpers are designed to avoid obstacles. The engine hood incorporates a large depression that enhances collision safety performance and forward visibility.
The cabin is spacious, and the seats are covered in a soft, comfortable, and durable cloth material, with leather upholstery optional.
Available engines are a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 (V35A-FTS) petrol and or a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 (F33A-FTV) diesel which are more powerful and efficient. These engines are mated with a six-speed or ten-speed automatic transmission.
The biggest competitors of the LC300 are the Range Rover L460, Mercedes GLS-Class, and BMW X7.
Of the three, the BMW is a great match for the LC300, except for off-roading capabilities.
The X7 like the LC300 is a seven-seater, but it’s more spacious as it has superior length and width but not height.
For interior and exterior features they are both packed with plenty of comforts, ultra-modern driver assistance, safety, and technological features.
Under the hood, both feature V6 powerplants, but the X7 has less power and torque.
The X7 is more expensive while the LC300 is more robust and reliable.
The Toyota Land Cruiser commands a mighty status in the full-size crossover SUV category. This is all due to its legendary status in durability, reliability, longevity, and off-road prowess.
For over fifty years it has left no stone unturned!
Legendary Reliability: Land Cruisers have become synonymous with longevity and exceptional durability, with proper maintenance, most last decades, clocking 1000000 km and still running as if it’s nothing.
Off-Road Prowess: These vehicles were built for the off-road, and they never shy away from rugged terrains, with their advanced four-wheel-drive systems making off-roading adventures enjoyable.
Written by: Samuel H. Mponezya