Stick Shift: 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land Cruiser has always been many things. It’s capable, competent, rugged and jam-packed with utility. Coveted by many and highly collectable. In many ways, you could say it’s timeless. One thing the Land Cruiser is not, is wishy washy about its intended use. Or conflicted about its place and purpose. 

For 2020, we see a few changes. The most obvious being a new Heritage Trim package. Which is a two-row version with added exterior trim pieces and upgraded wheels. The Heritage package adds to an already high price tag. However, it solves the problem of a third-row that’s not only cramped, but severely cuts into the cargo space. No major visual redesign for 2020. In fact, there hasn’t really been one since the introduction of the sixth generation way back in 2008. While most SUV’s and SUV crossovers could never get away with something like this, the Land Cruiser somehow can, and does. 

Tough and rugged have always been the theme of every aesthetic inch of the Land Cruiser. A theme that ages extremely well, or maybe doesn’t age at all. There’s clearly an enthusiastic consumer base that’s into a thing like that. Look no further than the for-sale section of any car website to see the obvious desirability. You won’t find one for under $50,000 with low miles. I’ve seen models that are over 15 years old with almost 300,000 miles for nearly $10,000 still. What makes the Land Cruiser so unique than? So wildly popular no matter the age or amount of use? 

In short, it’s because the Toyota Land Cruiser is extremely serious about being an SUV. A truck-based SUV at that. It’s solid as a rock. Offers a commanding view of the trail ahead. Can tackle more than most when the going gets tough and has a towing capacity beyond what’s offered by the brunt of its competition. Where countless luxury three-row SUV crossovers do their best, their car-based platforms are built for a smooth ride and on-road comfort. This limits their towing capacity and off-road capabilities. The Land Cruiser has never been willing to make these compromises, which is why people in the know, and with the need, love it so much.

Photo via: Toyota

It is now, and has always been purpose built and excellent at its intended use. Which is tackling the off-road world with complete confidence. Helpful in accomplishing this is a strong 5.7L V8 with over 400 lb ft of torque. For loose terrain, a full-time 4WD system with TRAC and a Torsen locking limited-slip differential ensures power is always being delivered to the wheel with most traction. The suspension is dynamic and ever-adjusting to a multitude of challenging driving conditions. A multi-terrain selector sits at your fingertips and will make big adjustments quickly. There’s even a multi-terrain monitor. Crawl control, hill-start assist, and a slew of collision mitigation and pedestrian detection monitors can be found as well. 

There’s a reason you don’t see a million Toyota Land Cruisers on the road. It’s low numbers only further adding to its appeal. Like being a part of an exclusive club. It’s not a Lexus RX, Mazda CX-9 or Audi Q7. The price-tag may chase off many. But for those in search of a no-compromise, off-roading machine, with a long history and rich pedigree of achievement in this arena, the Land Cruiser stands almost all alone. 

Price as tested: $89,129.00

By: Brandon Randall 

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